Bronislaw Kaper

The Swan [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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The Swan the movie is notable in that it was Grace Kelly's penultimate onscreen outing before she wed Prince Rainier of Monaco and therefore, made a real-life transition not unlike that suggested by the title. It is based on a frothy Molnár play that had been filmed once before in the silent era, although it is generally agreed that the Grace Kelly vehicle is the more entertaining and fully realized of the two. One of the things that makes it work is the fine musical score by Bronislau Kaper which was a personal favorite of the composer and long ago issued in part on an M-G-M Records LP. Film Score Monthly Golden Age Classics has revived The Swan as an entry in its ongoing series of limited edition issues featuring classic movie scores, this one in arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music.

One of the highlights of the disc is a rowdy and period-specific brass band rendering of Rákóczy March that, even as this theme winds its way through the whole soundtrack, seems a little out of character with the rest of the music. That's partly because Miklós Rósza led, and presumably arranged, this bit; he was originally considered as composer for The Swan but ended up scoring Lust for Life instead. Although of Polish origin and renowned for writing jazzy standards such as "On Green Dolphin Street," Kaper was thoroughly familiar with the Ruritanian idiom of the story and the music expected of it. Not surprisingly The Swan is a very lush and "beautiful" score -- in most cases Kaper opts for pathos over bathos, but to suggest that there is nothing truly sweet and sentimental about this music is sort of like saying there is nothing genuinely romantic in Gone With the Wind. For listeners with a sweet tooth, and a taste for Kaper, this will be a little slice of heaven.

Film Score Monthly Golden Age Classics has opted to use the original stereo soundtrack material when it was available, but some special transitional passages were developed for exclusive use on the monophonic LP version of The Swan that are also included. There are moments of wow and flutter here and there, and it's hard to say whether these defects come from the stereo or mono segments. At most they are just a brief distraction, but they are there, which is something one might consider before dropping the dime on this heftily priced (and typically short) soundtrack disc. Nonetheless, if one is a true fan of Bronislau Kaper then they will not want to be without this.

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