Saturday, 25 February 2012

Richard Addinsell: Miniature Overture

If any piece of light music by Richard Addinsell prefigures or nods toward Malcolm Arnold it is the Miniature Overture: Encore. I was immediately reminded of the marvellously insidious (in the best possible way) theme from the first movement of Arnold’s Symphony No.4.
Addinsell’s Overture was composed in 1951 for a film called Encore based on three Somerset Maugham short stores. At the beginning of each vignette, the author introduced the story form his beautiful garden Villa Mauresque that is on Cap Ferrat in the French Riviera. This introduction featured much of the music from the overture. Snatches of the main melody are used throughout the film
Addinsell’s Overture sparkles from beginning to end. There is a lovely big tune one seems to have known all one’s life. Moreover, the accordion gives typically French mood to the music. It is a perfect balance of humour, romance and even short tone poem describing a romantic scene on the Riviera. The only problem with this piece is that it is way too short.
For the curious, I quote from a review on Amazon UK that outlines the plot of all three stories:-
The first, ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ concerns the trials and tribulations a ne'er-do-well brother, Tom Ramsey, puts his prim-and-proper businessman brother, George Ramsey through. The escapades that drive George to absolute distraction eventually wins the hand of the world's third richest girl, Margaret Vyne, for shiftless Tom; ‘Winter Cruise’ finds the crew of a cargo boat becoming unglued by the endless chatter of a spinster passenger named Miss Reid. In a desperate attempt to silence the prattling busybody, the ship's officers browbeat a French steward, Pierre into making love to her. The results provide some astounding surprises for the officers, Pierre, and, for certain, Miss Reid; In ‘The Gigolo and the Gigolette’ segment, beautiful daredevil Stella Cotman, who entertains the jaded guests of a resort hotel by diving nightly from an eighty-foot platform into a flaming tank, is losing her nerve.
Having watched all three stories, I believe that they hold up surprisingly well. However, I have always had a soft spot for Somerset Maugham’s stories.
Fortunately the introduction in Somerset Maugham’s garden along with the music of the Miniature Overture: Encore cans we seen and heard on YouTube.

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