Vintage Cinema/Kunzel and Cincinnati Pops

September 30, 2008


With over 10 million CD’s sold and climbing as I type the thought crossed my mind that these compilation albums must be popular or they wouldn’t keep putting them out. The appeal reaches far beyond the somewhat limited soundtrack collector market. While this group will likely look at film selections and yawn the general public, especially the older generation, will recall memories of Brando, Holden, Peck, Flynn, and others. Listening for the first time brought memories back of all of the classic films represented in this compilation. The changes in film music from 1933-1963, the period of time this Vintage Cinema CD covers were dramatic. Just compare Max Steiner’s King Kong with its Wagner influences to the Americana of Copland in The Red Pony to the strong jazz in A Street Car Named Desire from Alex North and a basic orchestration with the simple childlike melody of To Kill A Mockingbird from Elmer Bernstein. These were big changes! Improvisation certainly wasn’t a technique that Korngold used in his wonderful rousing Adventures of Robin Hood but Waxman certainly weaved it into a saxophone part for his A Place In The Sun. This is a melody that has been performed in many styles even further by jazz, dance, and lounge performers all over the world. This reviewer has even heard it in an elevator setting. Bernstein certainly followed and expanded upon the ideas of North and Waxman in his only encounter with Hollywood for the picture On The Waterfront. Shostakovich could only smile when he could hear the scherzo sound of his 11th Symphony from Waxman in “The Ride of the Cossacks” from Taras Bulba. Rozsa is certainly not forgotten with his Spellbound Concerto and classic symphonic El Cid. And no CD is complete without one selection from Bernard Herrmann and the choice of North by Northwest is an excellent one.

The orchestration/arrangements weren’t credited but as best as this reviewer can guess some of them came from the Christopher Palmer arranging that he did on the Gerhardt/National Philharmonic recordings. Others came from the composer themselves who would write a suite containing the themes from the film. These arrangements are ones you might have heard at a summer pops concert by your local symphony orchestra.

It should be noted that this 53+ minute recording was done in only one day not the norm that you usually see in the liner notes if you pay attention to those kind of details. John Waxman, the son of Franz Waxman, spent a lot of time on the project making it a reality. Recorded with 10 mikes using the DSD process (response of 0 to 100,000 and dynamic range of 120db) results in no distortion from the recording. The only flaws are from your amp and speakers! For soundtrack collectors it is recorded in a concert style setting with no tight miking techniques used in film scores.

For anyone that is relatively new to the world of golden score film music it is a wonderful introduction to Waxman, Rozsa, Korngold, and others. If you hear something you like you can purchase a complete score to a particular film. If you’re in a rut with only the newer sound of Zimmer, Powell, and others it will likely not appeal to you albeit you should give it an opportunity. The Telarc Website will have music clips, downloading (MP3 at 320k), and SACD version on its release date of October 28th. It will also be available through many CD outlets. Recommended!

Golden Scores Rating is ***½

Engineered by Robert Friedrich

Produced by Robert Woods

Telarc # is CD 80708

Track Listing:

1… King Kong (3:05)

2… Robin Hood (3:58)

3… Spellbound (7:16)

4… Red Pony (3:39)

5… Sunset Boulevard (4:36)

6… Streetcar Named Desire (6:06)

7… A Place In The Sun (4:56)

8… On The Waterfront (4:57)

9… North by Northwest (2:39)

10. El Cid (3:24)

11. To Kill A Mockingbird (3:01)

12. Taras Bulba (4:59)

Total Time is 53:13




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