Spellbound/Rozsa

July 14, 2006

 

1945 was a marvelous year for Rozsa. Not only did he achieve the Oscar for this wonderful film he was also nominated for The Lost Weekend, and A Song To Remember. One could say he was on a roll which was to continue for many years to come. The United Artists Production was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in quite an intriguing tale of amnesia, love, and suspense. The score features one of the very early effective uses of the theremin, performed on this recording by Dr. Samuel Hoffman. In fact Miklos used the theremin in The Lost Weekend also, creating quite a stir from Hitchcock and Selznick. Apparently, as the story goes, David O felt he had some sort of exclusive on the instrument. In the beginning he had no idea what a theremin was thinking it could have been a headache medication! Rozsa, upon receiving a call from the secretary of Selznick, curtly explained that he not only used the theremin in The Lost Weekend, but also the flute, strings and percussion. Strangely, he never worked again for either Selznick or Hitchcock. While the film garnered several nominations that year, The Lost Weekend won the best picture, director, screenplay, and best actor. The best actress went to Joan Crawford for her performance in Mildred Pierce.

This is yet another example of a score that is not available as an OST recording. Of the many recordings available and http://www.soundtrackcollector lists 14 labels, 2 bootlegs, and 17 compilations this Stanyan rerecording of the original soundtrack seems to be the best choice. The Stanyan release comes from the 1958 recording performed by Ray Heindorf and the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. It was released by Rod McKuen in 1988 and also includes tracks from Joanna, The Borrowers, and Around The World In Eighty Days. Nevertheless, 45 minutes are included and most of it is a faithful reproduction from the film. The theme, if you have never heard it, is absolutely breathtaking. One of the top themes ever created for a film! One might hear the theme and not know what film it came from, but most people have likely heard it before. In fact this was one of the very early soundtracks that had a release onto 78’s. The track “The Dressing Gown”, while using the main theme as part of the sequence, also has some very similiar orchestrated sound and style to The Lost Weekend. Take out the theme and you could have substituted them between films. “The Scherzo” is truly a lovely symphonic version of a nice lively well developed theme with the main melody finally coming in with the brass. The initial theme is repeated again with the flute, woodwinds, with a cool countermelody from the violins. While too short for a true symphonic scherzo it is one nonetheless and performed quite well. “The Burned Hand” features some really good underscore, the solo violin giving us that despair sound from Rozsa that he could write so well. The “Spellbound” track is one that breaks the mold and has a completely different sound from the other tracks. A trombone solo? A muted trumpet? Lush strings? The delicate harp and piano? It sounds a lot more like Paul Weston to me than Rozsa. As you listen to “The Razor” and especially “Ski Run” there are also some hints of his famous The Killers score. “Ski Run” mysteriously disappeared from the final print and some Waxman music from the film Suspicion was substituted. The “Finale” has some great underscore which leads to the main title once again. While this main theme is used quite a little bit it still can’t be considered a monothematic score as there are enough other themes to take it out of that classification.

As stated earlier the final (5) tracks, while pleasant material, just don’t fit. If you are really interested in Joanna and “I’ll Catch The Sun” buy the soundtrack and get all of the material. The same holds true with “Off On The Great Adventure” and there are OST material available for Around The World In 80 Days far superior to Elmer Redwine and The Cinema Soundstage Orchestra. The nice thing about this CD is you can just listen to the first (11) tracks and stop!

 

Steve Hoffman did a nice remastering job on the WB LP for sure. It has a bit of warmth to it. He somehow managed to eliminate some of that harshness you sometime hear in a analog to digital recording. The strings have some nice warmth to them and it is really quite pleasant to listen to. If you ever come across this CD don’t hesitate to purchase it! My (***) rating is only because of my true fondness to OST recordings. This is what we have to enjoy at least for the present.

 

CD# is STZ116-2 on Stanyan

Digitally Mastered by Steve Hoffmann

Ray Heindorf conducts the Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra

Produced by Rod McKuen

 

Track listing

1. MAIN THEME (04:43)

2. THE DRESSING GOWN (04:17)

3. SCHERZO (03:15)

4. LOVE THEME (03:10)

5. THE BURNED HAND (04:40)

6. SPELLBOUND (03:10)

7. THE RAZOR (04:17)

8. CONSTANCE (02:47)

9. THE DREAM (03:00)

10. SKI RUN (02:49)

11. FINALE (03:27)

12. PETER´S THEME (I´LLCATCH THE SUN) (03:21)

From Joanna; Rod McKuen (Arranged and Conducted by Arthur Greenslade)

13. I´M ONLY ME (TWO GIRLS BATHING) (02:25)

From Joanna; Rod McKuen (Arranged and Conducted by Arthur Greenslade)

14. JOANNA IN PARIS (RUN TO ME, FLY TO ME) (01:59)

From Joanna; Rod McKuen (Arranged and Conducted by Arthur Greenslade)

15. OFF ON THE GREAT ADVENTURE (02:46)

From The Borrowers; Rod McKuen (Arranged and Conducted by Billy Byers)

16. ROADSHOW OVERTURE (04:58)

From The World in Eighty Days; Victor Young

Total Time is 55:45

 

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