“ When I first became aware of Bob's latest article covering Heinz Roemheld's signature theme from the film "Ruby," made into a popular song, my immediate thought was to ascertain which setting he was referring to, as I am familiar with a number of these.
The first setting of "Ruby" that I was exposed to, and the version that made the charts, was one by Richard Hayman, featuring Mr. Hayman as a harmonica soloist. It should be mentioned that Hayman was a harmonica virtuoso in his own right and made numerous other recordings featuring his instrument, and additionally produced many other fine arrangements during the years he was active.
I am quite surprised to note that this version is not mentioned at all in Bob's article, causing me to wonder whether it was even available in the UK, as I have become aware of far too many recordings that for whatever reason have not travelled in either direct across the Atlantic, and often David and I in our conversations expressed a certain regret over this state of affairs.
In any event, I find this version to be generally satisfactory, but there are others that I greatly prefer to it. The Victor Young version, the one I most commonly listen to when I have a desire to hear this melody, featuring one George Fields on the harmonica, has an irresistible sweetness and tenderness (quite typical of Mr. Young's manner) that would place it in the forefront for me. It is also the version I use when playing the selection on the piano.
Alongside of this, I would give attention to the Percy Faith version, that Bob has featured in his article, and is the only setting I am familiar with that does not use a harmonica. It comes from an album of four double length settings of various themes from films that Mr. Faith has put together. I would not consider all of these to be necessarily my choice if I had to make a selection amongst them as to my preference, but his setting of "Ruby" I do consider quite viable, worthy of closer attention, though not in the way Bob has described it.
(I will just parenthetically state here that I am familiar as well with the Les Baxter setting that Bob refers to, which does use a harmonica. I personally do not consider it as viable as the others that I mention in this article.)
As with each of these double length settings, we have two full run throughs of the melody. The first is on generally an even tempered course (despite the rather showy introduction which in my opinion has no relationship with the body of this setting), without too much in the way of overt emotional display, until we get to the interlude between the two settings - the first being in C Major and the second on its dominant, G Major.
This interlude is in essence an emotional outburst, and leads to the second statement of the song, which as a result of this display, takes on an emotionally wrought aspect, which is even more virulent with its second phrase, well to be regarded as the climax of the whole. It thus takes an additional bar after this very demonstrative statement to settle down into relative calmness.
The last phrase is presented with the utmost tenderness, almost consolatory in its manner, certainly very telling an effect after what we've been through just a bit earlier. The feeling at the conclusion of the melody, and the conclusion of the setting, suggests a feeling of resignation, and the overall emotion of this setting, quite overt and explicit, should be sufficient to capture the attention of anyone who is genuinely interested in these light music settings, for this is assuredly not background or wallpaper music, but rather music with an emotional statement to make, and thus meant to be listened to attentively.
I have read Bob's outline of the piece, but regretfully, I must say that this concentration on what particular instruments happen to be playing at any given time is not something that I can or choose to follow - for me it is a matter of taking in the whole picture of that presented, without undue dwelling on details; put another way, it would be a matter of seeing the forest rather than the trees.
It should be pointed out that this album, which was released in 1953, consists of four double length settings of signature themes from various films which became more or less popular at the time they appeared. Georges Auric's "Song from Moulin Rouge" was originally released as a single by Mr. Faith featuring vocalist Felicia Sanders, a setting which made the charts, but Mr. Faith subsequently decided to expand this setting (along with his penchant for rerecording on his own many selections that he originally presented with featured artists; a topic I myself referred to in a previous article). I consider this version to be moderately successful, although other versions that I have taken pleasure with are those by Victor Young and especially by members of the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler in an arrangement stated on the label as by George Siravo.
With the remaining two double length settings in Mr. Faith's album, of David Raksin's "The Bad and the Beautiful" and Dmitri Tiomkin's "Return to Paradise" I find that I am less enthusiastic, in view of the fact that we have two superlative settings of these signature themes by David Rose; in the one case because Mr. Rose's version is far more emotionally involving for me, and in the other because the version is neatly compact and matter-of-fact; achieving all that it sets out to accomplish, in contrast with the feeling I get of empty spectacle from Mr. Faith's versions. For both of these, there is no other competition to speak of, and I'm delighted that Bob has chosen Mr. Rose's version in his description of the former, even if I don't necessarily agree with his method of approach.
Another signature theme from a film which made the charts at that time was "Terry's Theme from Limelight." The version that so made it was Frank Chacksfield's very first recording he ever made. I always found myself preferring the versions by both Victor Young and by Richard Hayman, although I must say, the flip side of the Chacksfield single offered a selection entitled "Incidental Music from Limelight" which I have found to be most attractive.
Yet another signature theme which became moderately popular was that from "Invitation" by Bronislaw Kaper. While the Victor Young version for me has always stood foremost, and is frankly the one I use at the piano, I find the version by Percy Faith to be equally viable, and so in this case I would feel it is a matter of purely personal taste.
I hope that these comparisons of the various settings of signature themes from films might prove useful to my readers, and as usual I welcome all comments. ”