Carmen Dragon was the stage name of, well, Carmen Dragon. Slightly unusual name, especially for a male born in California in 1915. His first claim to public notice was as the composer of a theme song for his local high school. A local newspaper gave the composing credit to “a high school girl, Carmen Dragon”. Even in our more gender-fluid times, you can understand the mistake. But this Dragon was made of tough stuff, and he thrived in California, bringing his musical talents to the emerging film industry, and establishing himself as a leading composer and arranger of film scores.
He also served as conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, which performed for decades on a radio music program introducing classical music to primary school audiences, and the HBSO also recorded several LPs. This is one of them, and I will admit that I had low expectations. The cover is a tad tacky. Scratch that: bigly tacky. With the Spanish theme and the toreador on the sleeve, I was expecting lots of castanets and mariachi brass. There is a bit of that, but it is subtle, used well. This is a fine recording of classical music, the pieces all chosen around a theme which is not overworked.
This is my favourite track, an arrangement of Manuel de Falla’s ballet piece “Ritual Fire Dance”, which was written in the year of Dragon’s birth. It is dramatic and beautiful.
- Artist:, Carmen Dragon, conducting the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
- LP Title: Echoes Of Spain
- Side 1, Track 2: “Ritual Fire Dance”
- Format: 12”, 33⅓ rpm, mono
- Label: Capitol Records
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1955
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