Classical CD Reviews

Discover Film Music – 49 Selections of Film Themes on 2 CDs + 170-page booklet by John Riley – Naxos

An exceptional addition to Naxos' "Discover" series, with an essay which may be of even more value to film buffs than the music.

Published on December 23, 2008

Discover Film Music – 49 Selections of Film Themes on 2 CDs + 170-page booklet by John Riley – Naxos

Discover Film Music – 49 Selections of Film Themes on 2 CDs + 170-page booklet by John Riley – [TrackList below] Naxos 8.558210-11, 2:37:40 ***** [Release date: Dec. 24, 08]:

This is one of Naxos’ recent “Discover” series, which offers two maximum-length sampler CDs – usually with complete movements/selections, together with a sizeable illustrated booklet on the subject  of the album (this one has a 25,000-word essay) – all in a slip-box and at a special price. There are albums on Chamber Music, The Symphony, Opera, Choral Music and Music of the 20th Century.

There are some expected selections among the 49 tracks here, such as The Spellbound Concerto, The Warsaw Concerto, the main theme from Star Wars, and so on, but there are also seldom-heard themes from films you probably have never heard of, by equally unknown composers. Among the great classical composers represented in the collection are Prokofiev, Copland, Shostakovich, Honegger, Takemitsu, Ibert, Walton, Vaughan Williams, Alfven, Arnold, Bliss, Thomson, Bernstein, Rozsa and Korngold.

John Riley’s essay is well-written and absolutely fascinating reading. For example, I didn’t know that Max Steiner – who leads off the collection with two cues from his famous score for King Kong – invented both the click track and “mickey-mousing” (writing the music to closely imitate in sound the on-screen action). There is both a general history of film music as well as specific details on each and every selection of film music and why it is in the collection.  A Glossary of Film Music Terms is also provided in the booklet. A distinction is made between OST (Original Soundtrack) recordings (off the actual film soundtrack) and those re-recorded with a symphony orchestra for LP or CD release.  All the selections in this collection are of the latter type.  Another important term is diegetic music, which refers to music heard or seen by the actors on the screen, such as someone sitting down to play the piano or turning on a radio. It is opposed to a special score recorded separately and heard on the soundtrack. Diegetic music is one of the dogmas of director Lars Von Trier’s Dogme School of filmmaking.

The performing orchestras are mostly of UK and eastern European origin.  Some of these orchestras, such as the Moscow Symphony and the City of Prague Philharmonic, have recorded so many albums of film music by now that they are masters of the genre and usually sound better than the music on the actual soundtracks of the films. Another factor is the execrable sound on most earlier films of the 30s and 40s.  Russian films seem to be the bottom of the barrel in this regard, so it is satisfying to hear the fine music created by such composers as Shostakovich and Prokofiev in excellent stereo sonics, and performed by a much larger orchestra.

TrackLists:
Disc 1

STEINER: King Kong (excerpts) (restored J. Morgan)    
Main Title – 02:10
A Boat in the Fog – 01:36
KORNGOLD: The Adventures of Robin Hood (excerpts)     
Main Title – Muted Fanfare – 01:48
Sir Guy and Robin Hood – 01:49
The Banquet – 02:14
House of Frankenstein: Full Moon (reconstructed and orchestrated J. Morgan and W. T. Stromberg) – 01:16
The Maltese Falcon: The Deal (restored J. Morgan) – 02:47
Rebecca: Selznick International Trademark (by Alfred Newman) – Introduction – Foreword – Opening Scene – 03:16
Jane Eyre: Rochester
ROSZA: Spellbound Concerto (Spellbound) – 03:55
All About Eve Suite – 04:38
Red River (excerpts) (restored J. Morgan)
Main Title – 01:29
Dunson Heads South – 04:47
VIRGIL THOMSON: The Plow that Broke the Plains: War and the Tractor – 03:54
COPLAND: The Red Pony Suite: IV. Walk to the Bunkhouse – 02:57
On the Waterfront (excerpt) – 05:35
ROSZA: Ben-Hur: Prelude – 03:41
Schindler’s List: Main title theme – 04:24
WILLIAMS: Star Wars: Main Main title theme – 05:23
Alien: Main Theme – 04:44
Out of Africa: Main title theme – 03:54    
VANGELIS: Chariots of Fire: Main title theme – 03:31
Spider-Man: Main title theme – 05:13

Disc 2
The Dam Busters: The Dam Busters March – 03:53
633 Squadron: Main title theme – 02:57
BLISS: Things to Come: II. Interlude: The World in Ruins – 02:37
ADDINSELL: Warsaw Concerto (excerpt) – 03:33
David Copperfield: Mr. Micawber (restored J. Morgan) – 02:10
Hamlet: The Ghost – 03:13
Curse of the Werewolf: IV. Revenge and Escape – 02:58
49th Parallel: I. Prelude – 02:13
Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night): Dangerous Wine – 02:38
En bygdesaga (A Country Tale) Suite, Op. 53: I. Introduktion (Introduction) – 02:55
SHOSTAKOVICH: Odna (Alone), Op. 26 (reconstructed M. Fitz-Gerald)
Reel 6, Attempted Murder of Kuzmina: Kuzmina Almost Freezes to Death (beginning) – 01:33
Reel 3, Kuzmina Arrives Alone in the Altai Steppes: Overtone Singer – 00:43
Reel 4, Kuzmina Starts Teaching the Local Children: The School Class – 01:02
Reel 7, Kuzmina’s Rescue by Aeroplane: The Children Come to Comfort Kuzmina – 01:08
Hamlet, Op. 116: The Ghost – 03:40
PROKOFIEV: Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op. 60: I. The Birth of Kije – 04:10
Il buono il brutto il cattivo: Main theme – 02:52
Regain Suite No. 2:III. Nuit dans la grange – Ete – 03:50
Crime et Chatiment: III. Depart pour le crime – 04:57
4 Chansons de Don Quichotte: No. 4. Chanson de la mort – 03:08
Macbeth (Suite): Overture – 03:19
AURIC: La Belle et La Bete (Beauty and the Beast): Les couloirs mysterieux (Mysterious corridors) – 03:37
3 Film Scores: No. 3. Face of Another: Waltz – 02:20
Symphonic Fantasia No. 1 (excerpt) – 04:04
Un Soir, un Train : Danse de l’Auberge (Dance in the Inn) – 02:40
KILAR: Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Mina / Dracula – 04:46

 – John Sunier




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