Digital Space/Morton Gould

August 17, 2007

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Morton Gould was quite a familiar name to me growing up, my father having several of his RCA long play albums in his collection. The oh so infectious tune “Limehouse Blues” from Blues In The Night, “Slaughter On 10th Ave”, and The Grand Canyon Suite were just some of the ones that I remember. Many of you reading this are not familiar with Morton at all as his original compositions are not household names. Making the top 40 list was not his cup of tea.In 1985 Varese Sarabande was becoming involved with digital technology (thus the name of the album), and this album was a wonderful showcase example for the company using the new soundstream digital recording techniques. And the selection of material was certainly unique with Windjammer, The Red Pony, and Passionate Friends. The title of the album is actually quite misleading given the fact that other than the two Star Wars selections the album doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Digital Space unless you want to consider “wide open spaces” and then we can count Big Country, Windjammer, and The Red Pony. Given the artwork cover and any lack of what is included on the front you could have very easily passed this up as yet another compilation with Horner, Williams, and Goldsmith and their science fiction hits when it was available as a new release. Luckily for this reviewer the Gould name got my attention while shuffling through the long play albums and it was my introduction to some soundtracks I had never listened to before!

This compilation is filled with music from composers that love to tell stories through their writing. You feel like your at sea when you hear Windjammer. You feel the hustle and bustle of life on the ranch in The Red Pony. Spitfire is the plane taking off, soaring, and diving. Close your eyes and you can just visualize any of 30 different things going on at a huge metropolitan airport in the Newman Airport Theme. While Rozsa is still Rozsa his western theme to Tribute To A Badman comes through loud and clear. Things To Come, 49th Parallel, and Passionate Friends, are very British and again seldom played. That Hamilton Woman is before Spellbound but you can hear strains and ideas already forming. In fact the two Star Wars pieces could be the only ones on this compilation that you are familiar with! They, as well as John Williams, need no introduction to any of you.

In conclusion, this is certainly one of the older releases that I would seek out for your collection. The conducting of Morton Gould and the playing of the London Symphony Orchestra are a bonus. Keep in mind that if you do locate the long play it does not include Passionate Friends and the Princess Leia theme. Those are reserved for the CD release. There is a lot of negative discussion about compilation releases. The tempo isn’t right. The orchestration is different. The miking is different. I don’t feel that this release should be included in those discussions. Just enjoy it!!!

Golden Score Rating is (****1/2)

Engineered by Brian B. Culverhouse

Produced by Jerome E. Ruzicka

Varese Sarabande # VCD 47229

 

Track listing1. Main Title (03:00)

WINDJAMMER (Gould) 1958

2. Main Title (03:10)

THE BIG COUNTRY (Moross) 1958

3. Main Title (03:33)

AIRPORT (Newman) 1970

4. Morning On The Ranch (04:27)

THE RED PONY (Copland) 1948

5. Epilogue (03:00)

THINGS TO COME (Bliss) 1936

6. Love Theme (04:47)

THAT HAMILTON WOMAN (Rozsa) 1941

7. Main Title (05:51)

STAR WARS (Williams) 1977

8. Princess Leia Theme (05:32)

STAR WARS (Williams) 1977

9. Suite (04:51)

TRIBUTE TO A BADMAN (Rozsa) 1956

10. Main Title (04:18)

PASSIONATE FRIENDS (Addinsell) 1949

11. Prelude (02:25)

49th PARALLEL (Vaughan Williams) 1940

12. Prelude and Fugue (08:09)

SPITFIRE (Walton) 1942

Total Duration: 00:53:03

 

 

Since the time I reviewed Digital Space Citadel Records (STC 77140) has introduced the same album with the addition of Street Scene (Newman) and Sea Hawk Suite (Korngold) , a total of 15+ minutes of unreleased material.

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First shown on HBO in May of 2007, the film starring Aidian Quinn and Anna Paquin is based on the Dee Brown novel which recounts the tragic and horrific treatment of the Native American people in the late 1800’s leading to the Sioux massacre in 1890. Not only will the film become available on DVD on September 11th but Clinton has been nominated with an Emmy for music in a miniseries for his contribution to this project. Two hours is certainly not enough time for the powerful novel but HBO and the director Yves Simoneau give it their best effort.“Wounded Knee Main Title” incorporates not only the Lakota flute of John Two-Hawks but a choir and full symphony orchestra in a powerful moving theme beginning and ending with the flute. “The Feather”, at least in the very beginning sounds like what ears expect to hear with flutes, chanting, and the beat of the tom-tom. It seques into a quiet piano passage with a more traditional sounding flute and soft strings. “Spotted Eagle Song” by Darryl McDonald is sung in Lakota by the male choir to the constant beat of the tom-tom and definitely lends a certain amount of authenticity to the score. “Assimilation” has that piano style that Thomas Newman has used so effectively, nice melody with good harmony from the strings. In fact while quite pleasant to listen to it really seems out of place. “Red Cloud” is a funeral dirge, quite solemn featuring the lower register of the strings in a simple melody with the flute providing some harmony and Indian identification to the track.Overall this score is very dark offering little or no hope, exactly what the tragic situation historically was. Upbeat in the major key is not in the composition. Clinton has been able to achieve a correct balance between traditional sounding and newer landscape material, giving it a rather unique sound which this reviewer approves of. It is this blend that sets this soundtrack apart from others. We have all heard both styles of music but rarely together.

At this particular time the release is only available as a 30+ minute promo released by HBO. Perhaps there will be an official release to coincide with the DVD release in September. One would think that the Emmy nomination would push one of the record companies to introduce all of the soundtrack material to this fine score.

Track Listing:

1.    Wounded Knee Main Title (4:41)

2.    The Feather (2:03)

3.    The Train-Civilized (3:12)

4.    Cedar Creek (1:56)

5.    Spotted Eagle Song by Darryl McDonald (1:41)

6.    Assimilation (2:22)

7.    Red Cloud (2:28)

8.    Charles (1:43)

9.    What To Believe (2:11)

10.  White Horse (3:16)

11.  Ears For It-Cross and Feather

Total Time is 30:24

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To this reviewer 1956 was the year of Around the World in 80 Days, Lust For Life, and Moby Dick certainly not Hilda Crane & The Revolt of Mamie Stover. Never seen either film and likely never will. In fact the movie guide that I use as a reference by Martin & Porter, which has listings for over 19,000 films, doesn’t show either of them. But the music thanks to Intrada has been remastered and made available to us in their special collection series albiet limited to only 1200 copies. To my knowledge there are still copies available from Intrada directly, at least at the time of this writing in August 2007.Raksin and Friedhofer were not held in the same esteem as Newman, Rozsa, or Waxman perhaps due to the types of films they were assigned to, yet they were looked up to with the highest respect from their colleagues. While I can’t consider either score their best, I can certainly put both of them near the top of the list. Laura from Raksin and The Best Years Of Our Lives from Friedhofer are one of a kind gems that couldn’t be duplicated and must be considered two of the greatest of all time. Both Crane (Alfred) and Stover (Lionel) were 20th Century Fox films and had the honor of being conducted by members of the Newman family.The “Main Title” of Hilda Crane is performed in a Gershwin like style with the sounds of the train, traffic, and the fast city life: This is definitely the most upbeat of the cues. “The Truth” pulls out all of the stops for romance and lushness in a superb arrangement of the main title. David makes excellent use of the violin and flute to achieve the mood he is attempting to convey. “The Second Mrs.” gives us a wonderful muted trombone solo of the theme as it is presented in yet another form. While the overall flavor of the score is quite somber and soap opera like the genius of Raksin comes through loud and clear! This was one that I found myself listening to over and over and over and over again.If you are familiar at all with Jane Russell you’ll quickly realize how well composer Hugo Friedhofer nailed her perfectly with the theme “Walkin Home with the Blues”. Jane was quite a buxom woman and one can just picture her hips swaying to the bluesy, slightly raucous main title. Orchestrated so that the reeds and brass are equally featured it is similiar in style to the Julie London “Cry Me A River” song which probably doesn’t help younger listeners much either help to identify but the older generation understands loud and clear. I can see the stare eyes with the comment who? “The Voyage” begins with a tremolo from the clarinet, a simple sax solo followed by a well done slow easy going blues composition. “Deck Games” is a pleasant variation on the main title starting with a mournful oboe solo and seques into a waltz upbeat arrangement of the theme before returning to the blues featuring the romance of a muted trumpet with lush strings. “Pin-Up” is a nicely played swing song with several band members all getting their hand at being able to play a few bars. The songs with lyrics are included at the end for good reason. “Keep Your Eyes on the Hands” and “If You Wanna See Mame Tonight” are nothing spectacular but need to be included to keep completeness to the release. Jane Russell isn’t much in the singing department but then again we’re interested in this CD for Hugo Friedhofer and David Raksin anyway.Overall this is a very nice find from Intrada, one that you will be quite happy to have in your collection. There are few Friedhofer choices and even fewer Raksin so don’t let this one slip between the cracks. Highly recommendedGolden Score Rating ****

Produced by Nick Redman and Douglass Fake

Intrada Special Collection #31

Track listing1. Main Title (01:56)2. Let’s Get Acquainted (01:18)3. I Should Have Known (01:33)4. Hilda and Mother (03:03)5. Dreams (03:21)

6. The Truth (02:44)

7. Hilda Enters the Church (01:01)

8. The House (04:52)

9. Bleak Day (01:09)

10. The Second Mrs. (01:59)

11. What Are You? (04:31)

12. The Long Wait (01:53)

13. End Titles (02:02)

HILDA CRANE (1956) by David Raksin (tracks 1-13, total time 31:32)

14. Main Title (“Walkin’ Home with the Blues”) (01:59)

15. The Voyage (04:05)

16. Deck Games (05:16)

17. “Sing Me a Song of the Islands” (03:32)

18. “Walkin’ Home with the Blues” (02:39)

19. On the Beach (03:38)

20. Plain Scared (01:07)

21. Escrow and Boot Montage (01:05)

22. Dreaming and Scheming (02:28)

23. Declaration (01:25)

24. Goodbye (01:14)

25. “If You Wanna See Mamie Tonight” (02:30)

26. “Keep Your Eyes on the Hands” (02:03)

27. Pin-Up (01:29)

28. “If You Wanna See Mamie Tonight” (chorus version) (01:22)

29. End Titles (01:35)

30. “If You Wanna See Mamie Tonight” (02:52)

vocal: Rush Adams (bonus track)

THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER (1956) by Hugo Friedhofer (tracks 14-30, total time 40:43)

Total Duration: 01:11:41