Last summer, Faber Music brought out Film Themes: The Piano Collection, which I reviewed enthusiastically here.
This summer, they follow up with The Classical Film Collection, which offers a varied compendium of 40 popular classical pieces – all of which have been prominently used in movies – arranged for intermediate to early-advanced pianists.
Let’s take a closer look and see what’s included …
Like Faber Music’s other recent music compilations, The Classical Film Collection is attractively presented, with a glossy eye-catching cover, and well presented within. Music engraving is clear and well-spaced, at times generously so, as in the case of Chopin’s E minor Prelude, here bestride two pages.
Speaking of pages, there are 120 in all, and the 40 included pieces range in length from one to nine pages – a point which perhaps already hints at the scope and diversity on offer here. Worth noting too that, like the previous Film Themes piano collection, this book easily stays open on the music stand, and seems to me a quality production made to last.
The majority of the pieces are simplified and shortened arrangements of vocal, choral and orchestral works, although a few are original piano solos, these being presented in their full unabridged form.
In general the edition includes no fingering suggestions, although there are a few unexpected exceptions.
Personally I would have preferred fingering throughout, and not only for the sake of consistency. Firstly, some of the arrangements don’t exactly fit very well under the fingers. Secondly, such an enticing collection invites independent exploration; intermediate to early advanced players working through the book without a teacher would surely benefit from helpful fingering suggestions.
As with any collection of this sort, the most decisive information for many readers will be the list of contents, so here it is:
- Adagietto (Mahler) – Death in Venice
- Adagio from Cello Concerto in E minor (Elgar) – Hilary & Jackie
- Adagio from Clarinet Concerto in A (Mozart) – Out of Africa
- Adagio in G minor (Albinoni) – Manchester By The Sea
- Air on the G string (J.S. Bach) – Se7en
- Aria from the Goldberg Variations (J.S. Bach) – The Silence of the Lambs
- Clair de Lune (Debussy) – Atonement
- Dance of the Reed Flutes (Tchaikovsky) – Fantasia
- Ethel and Ernest (Carl Davis) – Ethel and Ernest
- House of Woodcock (Jonny Greenwood) – Phantom Thread
- Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (Vaughan Williams) – Master and Commander
- Fast zu Ernst (Schumann) – Shine
- Für Elise (Beethoven) – Immortal Beloved
- German Dance in D major (Schubert) – Persuasion
- Gnossienne No.1 (Satie) – Chocolat
- Impromptu in G flat Op.90 (Schubert) – The Lady in the Van
- Intermezzo (Mascagni) – Raging Bull
- In Paradisum (Fauré) – The Thin Red Line
- Le jardin féerique from Ma Mère l’Oye (Ravel) – Call Me By Your Name
- Laureate Dominum (Mozart) – Moonlight
- Lacrimosa (Mozart) – Amadeus
- The Last Rose of Summer (trad. Irish) – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Liebstod (Wagner) – Melancholia
- Libiamo, e’lieti calici (Verdi) – Quartet
- Morning Passages (Glass) – The Hours
- Miserere (Allegri) – Chariots of Fire
- Nimrod (Elgar) – Elizabeth
- Ode to Joy (Beethoven) – A Clockwork Orange
- Overture from La Forza del Destino (Verdi) – Jean de Florette
- Piano Concerto Op.73, Emperor Theme (Beethoven) – The King’s Speech
- Prelude III (Gershwin) – An American in Paris
- Prelude in E minor (Chopin) – The Pianist
- The Ride of the Valkyries (Wagner) – Apocalypse Now
- Rondo all Turca (Mozart) – A Beautiful Mind
- Sarabande (Handel) – Barry Lyndon
- Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky) – Black Swan
- Un bel di vedremo (Puccini) – Fatal Attraction
- Variation No.3 from Goldberg Variations (J.S. Bach) – Captain Fantastic
- Vissi d’arte (Puccini) – Yves Saint Laurent
- Stabat Mater (Vivaldi) – The Talented Mr. Ripley
There are obviously a number of challenges involved in putting together such a diverse and enticing collection, and one which so clearly aims to please a wide audience.
For one thing, the selection of pieces should perhaps either make a virtue of featuring unique content not available elsewhere, or else assume that the purchaser has no prior library, allowing a free hand in choosing those standard pieces which are so ubiquitous elsewhere.
Here, Faber seem to have sought a compromise. I can’t help wondering who needs another copy of Für Elise or Gnossienne 3 – but there are nevertheless enough distinctive pieces to make this collection genuinely worthwhile, even for those of us who already have an extensive music library.
Then there is the question of difficulty level. Here again, Faber have opted for inclusion and broad appeal.
Although the marketing states the collection is ideal for intermediate players, it includes Schubert’s glorious Impromptu in G flat major Op.90/3 (currently on the DipABRSM Diploma syllabus) alongside very easy arrangements of a handful of the included pieces, such as the Ode to Joy (which is certainly not harder than Grade 2).
The easier pieces might helpfully spare the blushes of the less advanced player who is given the book as a gift, offering something an elementary pianist could cope with before growing into the more difficult pieces. On the other hand, the arrangement of The Ride of the Valkyries seems to me somewhat misjudged here, appearing as an easy lilting piece that oddly fails to channel the essence of the mighty original.
While I am not without minor reservations about this publication, I must stress that despite the small concerns mentioned I still feel that the strengths of The Classical Film Collection considerably outweigh it’s weaknesses.
Many will, I am sure, find the selection of pieces a delight, and the quality of arrangements is on the whole very good indeed. The Classical Film Collection is a well designed collection bound to give student and amateur pianists many hours of pleasure.
In conclusion then, if you like the listed selection of pieces you’ll undoubtedly find this an enjoyable, useful and worthwhile purchase.
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