Classical CDs Weekly: Gál, Schumann, Shostakovich, Tiomkin

09.01.12
Richard Kaufman
The Arts Desk

By Graham Rickson

A pair of Germanic symphonies, a fascinating operatic fragment and one of Hollywood's finest

Dimitri Tiomkin: The Greatest Film Scores London Symphony Orchestra, London Voices/Richard Kaufman (LSO Live)

Born in the Ukraine, Dimitri Tiomkin pitched up in Hollywood in 1930, enjoying a composing career which lasted until the early 1970s. Incredibly versatile and a fast worker, he was under no illusions about his importance as a composer. “I am no Prokofiev," he said, "I am no Tchaikovsky. But what I
write is good for what I write for.”

Listening to this handsomely produced and glossily performed disc you’re struck by Tiomkin’s chameleon-like ability to invoke images of America – the Western scores recorded here are full of primary colours and open space. Tiomkin’s unlikeliest, most enduring success was the title song to High Noon, which became a smash for singer Frankie Laine. Andrew Playfoot sings here. He’s even better in the theme song to Rawhide, beefily backed by the men of London Voices. The results are uproarious – whooping horns and whipcracks nice and clear.

Two scores for Hitchcock films are combined; Dial M for Murder includes a prominent ringing telephone and Strangers on a Train captures the rapid cutting in the film’s opening sequence, though without the menace that Bernard Herrmann would later bring. Wild is the Wind’s theme song is delivered in by Whitney Claire Kaufman in a manner that almost eclipses Johnny Mathis’s original. Land of the Pharoahs has a wonderful Technicolor moment when the choir enter two minutes in – schlocky, hokey stuff, but highly effective. It all works.

The LSO sound fully engaged and Richard Kaufman steers them confidently through the scores’ trickier corners. Great fun.

Watch the opening sequence to High Noon, sung by Tex Ritter