July 30, 2006

Even though Providence was released in 1977 and is technically not a golden age score, I am stretching the rules on this one and am including it in the Golden Scores reviews. Rozsa did start writing in the 30’s, the style and flavor is golden age, and it is one of his final films he scored. And just to set the record straight it has nothing to do with the somewhat popular television series of a few years ago. Rozsa passed away in 1995 long before the series even got started.

The film itself was Alain Resnais’s first English language film featuring Dirk Bogarde, Sir John Gielgud, Ellen Burstyn, and David Warner. Winner of several French film awards including the score, this has been shown to be a film ahead of its time. Gielgud portrays a novelist who is sick and dying and creates one last novel based on his family in his mind. The switching between real and imagined make this film a bit difficult to follow for some. This is not true of the fine score of Dr. Rozsa who was 70 at the time he composed this. He created a soundtrack every bit as inviting as Spellbound, Lost Weekend, or Time After Time, three films which have similiar styles and themes in them.

The opening track “The Twilight Waltz” orchestrated for strings and piano is yet another example of the exquistive, warm, romantic, wonderful side of Dr. Rozsa. Close your eyes and if you are old enough to remember Astaire and Rogers just picture them dancing on a ballroom floor so eloquently to the main theme. The “Main Title” is the same theme with the elimination of the piano and the addition of woodwinds and brass to the orchestra. The woodwinds introduce the theme followed by the strings with the famous brass Rozsa chords in the background. While it is played darker in nature than the waltz version it is more of a longing style for things that use to be. While the theme is the same it is like listening to two completely cues. “Leaves” starts on the darker noir side of Rozsa but part way through switches to a softer theme with a solo clarinet providing the melody and strings providing the background. Both “Chase” and “Arrival at the House” are excellent underscore cues that could easily have been written for Brute Force or The Killers. They both feature that dark noir style he developed and made famous in the 40’s. If you enjoy the “Spellbound Concerto” piano piece you will love the version of “The Twilight Waltz” for solo piano. A simple style and arrangement is the thing that makes this track so eloquent in nature. Dr. Rozsa’s style wasn’t to try and dazzle you with a concert style sonata performed by a master piano soloist, but something extremely soothing to your ears. One could easily conjure up that first love while listening to it. “Providence” other than the theme, provides the same feelings to me as the end of Lost Weekend. While the situation seems rather hopeless there is a faint ray of hope filtering through. Not having seen the film for quite sometime “Providence” almost sounds more fitting as the end of the film as opposed to the “Finale” which is a little darker in nature.

The mastering of this particular score Cam Studios, is quite ordinary. Done in 1992, the last 14 years have brought improvements in technology that this recording could benefit from. This Dolby Surround technology likely sounds just fine in a home theater system but is sorely lacking in a standard two speaker stereo system or headphones. The good news is that this recording is still quite available in the marketplace and should be sought out and purchased budget permitting. Other than the main theme which I truly enjoy there is nothing terribly unique or groundbreaking about this soundtrack. As earlier stated there are many references made to earlier scores but that is the Rozsa style and that should have no bearing on getting this work. Recommended.

Golden Scores rating is ***1/2

CD# is CSE 085

Total Time is 35:15

Track listing

1. Twilight Waltz (03:43)

2. Main Title (02:04)

3. Leaves (02:23)

4. Chase (02:45)

5. Arrival at the House (01:53)

6. Sonia and the Holy Shroud (00:57)

7. Twilight Waltz (piano) (03:43)

8. Providence (02:03)

9. Disenchantment (02:40)

10. Kevin and Sonia (01:36)

11. The Dead City (02:58)

12. Helen (02:54)

13. The Public Garden (01:54)

14. The Street (00:59)

15. Finale (02:01)


2 Responses to “Providence/Rozsa”

  1. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and
    let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  2. Fred Laner Says:

    Very cool review! Except to me this score is a five star classic, and not just because it sits so differently with the rest of Rozsa’s input. Perhaps the most subtle score he ever wrote…not the level of Ben Hur or Double Life but for anyone interested in hearing concert-level composition in a film score Providence is an excellent example (not to mention it’s perhaps the best score he wrote in his later years).

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