Film music is almost always identified with American composers, thanks to the steady stream of European emigrés who took advantage of the growing Hollywood film industry to flee their troubled home countries in the 1930s. Name artists in the European sphere are rarer, and for that reason alone, The Film Music of Gerard Schurmann, is well worth a listen. Schurmann was a Dutch composer born in what is now Indonesia. Even after the American example was set, European film scores were often written by general composers of orchestral music (Vaughan Williams and Shostakovich are two famous examples). Schurmann was one of the first true film composers in Britain, and his career began when Alan Rawsthorne gave it a boost. Rawsthorne had been commissioned to write a film score, he turned part of it over to Schurmann, asked the producers what they thought of his work, and revealed the true composer when they expressed approval. Most of the films here remain obscure, at least outside Britain, and aside from The Gambler (1997), all are from the 1950s and 1960s. Stars include Patrick McGoohan (of The Prisoner) in Dr. Syn, alias The Scarecrow. Schurmann is no Bernard Herrmann, but the strength of his scores lies in his imaginative orchestration; outside of film music he sometimes worked as an orchestrator. Sample the second movement of the suite from The Ceremony, a slowly moving kaleidoscope of unusual instrumental sounds including those of treble and bass recorders. The pieces are all suites, presumably made by the composer, and any of them would enliven an orchestral concert. They get a spirited performance here from the BBC Philharmonic under Rumon Gamba, and impressive sound from Chandos, who are to be commended for the ongoing originality of their "Chandos Movies" series.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Dr Syn, alias The Scarecrow, Suite for Orchestra|
|Konga, Suite for Orchestra|
|Claretta, Suite for Orchestra|
|The Ceremony, Suite for Orchestra|
|Horrors of the Black Museum, Suite for Orchestra|
|The Gambler, Suite for Orchestra|