Film Music of Thomas Newman/City of Prague Philharmonic

September 25, 2008

Can one say that they have arrived when there is a greatest hits recording by a third party? The answer is a resounding yes in the case of Thomas Newman. Seven of his Oscar nominated scores as well as his Emmy award-winning theme Six Feet Under are represented on this Silva release performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and London Music Works. James Fitzpatrick and Rick Clark selected (14) tracks Newman did for films between 1994-2006, the two decades that have brought him to the top of the A list in composers. Son of Alfred Newman, a (9) time Oscar winner, brother of David, film composer, and cousin to Randy Newman another Oscar winner, the family just keeps on producing wonderful scores.

Don’t expect to hear a lot of the quirky material that has become his trademark although “Dead Already” from American Beauty and the “Theme” from Six Feet Under are included which spotlights percussion, pizzicato strings, unusual instruments, and just plain weird sounds! The difficulty in duplicating this for a concert hall setting is going to be who is going to play them and where are you going to get the instruments. Couple this with the mixing in of separate tracks to the OST material and you’re never going to be able to do it. The emphasis of this CD is placed on the sweeping melodies, lush arranging, and just plain old fashion playing to bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. Shawshank Redemption, Meet Joe Black, The Green Mile, and Cinderella Man are good examples of his classic concert works. While both Road to Perdition, and Finding Nemo could have had the quirky nature depending on the cue chosen, the road of conservatism prevailed and these tracks are also softer moments, more of the easy listening style. One of his latest works The Good German, a return to the music style of his father is nicely captured in two cues. Having said that the trained ear could still get a whiff of the Thomas trademark in the strings and harmony. Little Women, always a favorite of this reviewer, is not only included but features a Thomas Newman arrangement

Think of this release as a pleasant one-hour concert written by a composer who truly knows how to write a melody, one that you would be humming to yourself or out loud as you leave the theater. But it is extremely important to keep in mind that this is performed concert style, a nice way to listen to your music. An individual could easily pick apart each and every track on this recording. Oh, this four bar motif in the brass wasn’t included or the E flat clarinet is missing in Finding Nemo. As a serious reviewer I took the time to put together (4) of the selections with the OST followed by this Silva recording and found that while different the performance, orchestration and arranging were more than acceptable. To many of the hard core soundtrack listeners your own personal compilation CD is in order and this CD is not recommended. If you want a nice one hour listening experience this CD will fill the bill. If you are somewhat new to the world of Thomas Newman this is an excellent introduction. If you like what you hear there are numerous recordings available to explore. Recommended!!!

CD Mastering: Gareth Williams

Produced by James Fitzpatrick & Rick Clark

Conducted by James Fitzpatrick, Nic Raine, and Ken Alwyn

Arranged by Dan Head, Dominic Nunns, Evan Jolly, Rick Clark, Adam Klemens, Adam Saunders, and Thomas Newman

Main Titles Rating is ***½


Track listing

1. The Good German: Unrecht Oder Recht (02:32)


2. The Good German: Jedem das Seine (03:16)


3. Road to Perdition: Main Theme (03:52)


4. American Beauty: Plastic Bag Theme (02:51)


5. American Beauty: Dead Already (03:18)


6. The Horse Whisperer: End Title (03:37)


7. The Green Mile (04:00)


8. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events: The Letter That Never Came (04:00)


9. Little Women (04:10)


10. Cinderella Man (05:31)


11. Finding Nemo: Finding Nemo / Nemo Egg (02:34)


12. Meet Joe Black: Whisper of a Thrill (06:16)


13. Six Feet Under: Theme (02:11)


14. The Shawshank Redemption: End Titles (03:51)


Total Duration: 00:51:59


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