Eleanor H. Porter’s adorable, eternally optimistic sprite has been showing up on big and small screens since 1920, most popularly in Haley Mills’ effervescent form via Disney in 1960, and most recently in 2003 on the U.K.’s ITV. With the character’s roots transported from New England to England proper, it’s only right that a classically-minded composer like Christopher Gunning be giving the musical job of making the sun shine as bright as the little girl’s smile (never mind that he impressively got his start on such bloodthirsty scores as GOODBYE GEMINI and HANDS OF THE RIPPER).
Thankfully, Gunning knows how to get across an adolescent’s spoonfuls of sunray smile sugars without inducing musical diabetes. And he’s got a smart, sweet theme that’s sure to warm over even the grinchiest of soundtrack fans. Gunning’s POLLYANA spreads its happiness through beautifully delicate strings and pianos, wistful flutes and bell percussion gradually working over the emotions with a distinctive sense of early 20th century time and place. Like his GREYSTOKE mentor John Scott, Gunning evokes the delicate, bucolic sounds of such English masters as Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton, here in restrained fashion, though unafraid of melancholy. Gunning’s indomitable, winningly tender optimism that finds an innocent, melodic purity within its music. Given that POLLYANA‘s score is relatively brief, Caldera Records has even more extensive time for its welcome inclusion of a composer audio commentary, a thoroughly engaging 25 minutes in which Gunning elaborates with utter charm on the career that led to POIROT and POLLYANA, as well as finding way more satisfaction doing concert music – though his scores are always welcome, especially little charmers like this one.
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