The Golden Age of Hollywood/Compilation of Soundtrack Composers

November 29, 2011

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in its continuing series of Here Come The Classics is offering a 77 minute compilation of golden age film music from the 30’s to the 70’s in very straight forward arrangements that offer an easy listening orchestration to the material. There are no surprises on this disc other than 4 of the 15 tracks are devoted to Psycho. The one hour plus will certainly bring back nostalgia of some of the classic films of all time!

It is only fitting that the greatest of western themes from Hollywood, The Big Country from Jerome Moross opens this disk. I’m still amazed to this day that this classic score lost the Oscar in 1958 to the Tiomkin soundtrack The Old Man And The Sea. I can’t recall seeing its main theme appear on any compilation recordings but it certainly reinforces my lack of interest in what Hollywood thinks. The swirling strings at breakneck speed complimented by crisp brass are a prelude to the main theme, bold and majestic played by the strings with appropriate harmony from the brass. Moross created a template that Hollywood Westerns used for many years and I’m sure that Copland, father of the Americana sound, would have been proud of. A nine minute suite of the film Casablanca which includes the famous song “As Time Goes By,” not original material written for the film, but one of the greatest songs from a Hollywood picture of all time is offered in an uncomplicated piano solo as well as sweet strains from the strings. Intermixed with the theme are the strains of the Marseillaise (French Anthem) along with original underscore from Max Steiner. 1945 was a very good year for Miklos Rozsa who not only won an Oscar for his Spellbound score but was also nominated for The Lost Weekend, the score he preferred. So popular was the melody that Rozsa made a single movement 13 minute piano concerto that is nicely played by Roderick Elms. It captures the sentimentality as well as the tension. Some of the finest underscore ever written for Hollywood was found in Psycho which is famous for the string slashing motif that went along with the shower stabbing scene in the film. Herrmann was a master at enhancing photographic situations and the four tracks included in this compilation certainly emphasize his ability to create terror from his cues. Guns of Navarone is a splendid example of how the Russian composer Dimitri Tiomkin was able to create wonderful thematic material in a classical orchestration like his fellow countrymen Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. The arrangement offers bright brass that exchanges the melody with the strings and is nicely complimented by percussion. Two selections “Love Theme” and “Parade of the Charioteers” are the highlight of another Oscar winner, Ben Hur, for Miklos Rozsa. His classical Hungarian training was never surpassed by this epic work. The versatility of Herrmann was clearly evident in his jazzy alto saxophone approach to Taxi Driver a complete 180 degrees from Psycho. The lush solo is performed by Phil Todd and nicely performed by the Royal Philharmonic in a standard arrangement of the material. Being true to the composers he followed, Strauss and Wagner, Korngold created a symphonic masterpiece in his score Sea Hawk. The fanfare of the brass that opens the cue is unforgettable. Performed with the same frequency as Spellbound the Warsaw Concerto is a showpiece for a concert pianist and is nicely played by Roderick Elms in this sentimental version from the film Dangerous Moonlight. No compilation would be complete without Tara’s theme from Gone With The Wind. Selznick’s greatest film achievement is perfectly enhanced by the writing of Max Steiner. Magnificent Seven is offered in a new fresh arrangement from Paul Batemen that includes a rousing prelude, brightly colored brass, and crisp strings in the best performance on this CD.

The seasoned collector is going to find little appeal to this offering as he likely has Charles Gerhardt, John Williams, and others performing this material in their collection already. The occasional film music listener, fan of the Royal Philharmonic, and pops enthusiast, will find this well recorded and performed offering delightful listening. I’ve included my favorite track on the CD for you to enjoy. Magnificent Seven – 15 – Track 15

CD# RPO017

Track Listing:

1… The Big Country: Main Theme (3:01)

2… Casablanca: Suite (9:10)

3… Spellbound: Concerto (13:20)

4… Psycho: Suite-Prelude (2:11)

5… Psycho: Suite-The Stairs (1:39)

6… Psycho: Suite-The Murder (0:56)

7… Psycho: Suite-Finale (2:10)

8… The Guns of Navarone: Main Theme (2:36)

9… Ben-Hur: Love Theme (4:35)

10.. Ben-Hur: Parade of the Charioteers (3:22)

11.. Taxi Driver: Main Theme (7:41)

12.. The Sea Hawk Main Theme (8.25)

13.. Dangerous Moonlight: Warsaw Concerto (9:25)

14.. Gone With The Wind: Tara (4:36)

15.. The Magnificent Seven: Overture (4:12)

Total time is 77:26

4 Responses to “The Golden Age of Hollywood/Compilation of Soundtrack Composers”


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