The Film Music of Gerard Schurmann (Chandos Records) includes music from a number of films which have resurfaced on Talking Pictures TV including Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum and Attack On The Iron Coast. More pertinently, it includes a 20 minute suite from Dr Syn, Alias The Scarecrow, in which Patrick Wymark plays the smuggler Joseph Ransley. As Disney continue to make the DVD unavailable* this is the closest you will come to experiencing the original.

Recorded in beautiful downtown Salford, by the BBC Philharmonic under Rumon Gamba, the CD represents Schurmann’s personal selection of his film work.Carolyn Nott’s informative 36 page booklet tells us that Schurmann’s score ranges from fast-moving action music for the chases, to a ‘warm, romantic melody’ for the Dr Syn theme.

Patrick Wymark’s character of Joseph Ransley gets a section of his own – Ransley’s Betrayal. Coerced by prosecutor Alan Dobie into betraying his fellow-smugglers, Ransley is found out and put on trial by the Scarecrow. As Carolyn Nott puts it, “Schurmann’s music reflects Wymark’s heartrending portrayal of Ransley, evoking feelings of anguish, and ending with a cry of despair.”

Cover art for the disc reflects another Talking Pictures TV favourite – Jack Hawkins in ‘The Long Arm’ (1956), which was Schurmann’s first full score. The disc also includes music from Claretta (1984) and The Gambler (1997) for which Schurmann was apparently chosen because he was “not a typical movie composer.” I’m not sure what that means – although I recall hearing Schurmann’s title music for Horrors Of The Black Museum before I’d seen the movie and thinking that it certainly didn’t sound like a horror movie. Perhaps that unpredictability is part of what Schurmann brings to his movies. The CD represents the full range of Schurmann’s colourful symphonic scores.