Sunset Boulevard/Franz Waxman

April 5, 2006

In preparing for my monthly film discussion meeting at the SD Library I found myself spending a lot of time listening to the three versions of Sunset Boulevard I have acquired over the years.  One really doesn't count because it is a suite on The Classic Scores of Franz Waxman, a Gerhardt/National Philharmonic recording.  In 2002 Varese Sarabande (302 066 316 2) chose to record it with Joel McNeely conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  While the sound is vastly superior to the bootleg OST, the playing is not.  The Paramount Orchestra was excellent and while the recording is in mono and it has been somewhat noise reduced the sound is still superior.  As I listen to more and more recordings of music that have been redone I am less and less impressed with them.  The violin solo performed in the first track, which has been named the Paramount News Reel Music Theme is vibrant and full of life, literally jumping out of your speakers!  The style reminds me of a part of An American Paris from Gershwin, horns depicting traffic, a somewhat frantic pace of life moving quickly in Los Angeles.  The Gerhardt/National Philharmonic recording is a slower pace (conductor decision I understand), no violin solo (?), no piano (?), and a less than full sound from the percussion.  I also understand this is just a 7 minute suite which incorporates the three main themes, but the orchestrating decision is at best questionable.

Now the question is why has there not been an official release of this Oscar winning score is beyond me.  Is it Paramount who is holding this score back.  I suspect as much because Shane, another fine score has never been released either.  Or am I just getting too old and no one cares about 50+ year old films.

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