Another piece of music for the screen, this time from the British war film Dangerous Moonlight (1941). Running to only nine minutes in a single movement, it can barely be called a concerto, rather something of an epic miniature for piano and orchestra. Addinsell manages to fit a huge emotional variety into these nine minutes without the listener feeling at all rocked about by it. Nowhere is this contrast so great as between the tense, brooding entry and the beginning of the central theme.

It is undoubtedly this theme that makes the piece, giving it a popularity that has gone well beyond the life of the original black-and-white film. It first appears in the piano as a meditative, almost introverted solo, which grows gradually to encompass the orchestra. The focus shifts continually back and forth, giving the impression of the piano drifting in and out in a rather improvisatory manner. The show-stopping moment is without a doubt the lush violin melody soaring over the soloist’s flurries of chords in the piece’s final buildup.

It is said that Addinsell  modeled this piece on Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, and it is easy to hear the link. Miniature it may be, but this is a work that at once achieves intimacy and a majestic beauty.

For a glimpse of the film, have a look at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4cu1vtIVxo

The scene isn’t a full performance, rather (I think) the first time the piece is introduced as an American journalist and Polish officer meet for the first time in the ruins of Warsaw. Once again, quality isn’t fantastic.

Advertisements