Wuthering Heights/Compilation of Newman

September 10, 2010

Tribute is an understatement when we talk about Alfred Newman, a man who amassed 45 Oscar nominations and on nine occasions won the coveted award. As Tony Thomas wrote in the liner notes “he was very much a man of the so called Golden Age of American film. More than that he influenced the whole art and craft of film scoring.” He headed 20th Century Fox for twenty years and composers Alex North, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernard Herrmann, and David Raksin worked for him and produced classic scores the likes of which we’ll never see again. He was music for 20th Century Fox and Zanuck the studio head gave him freedom to do whatever he felt was best for the pictures.

Richard Kaufman, whose list of credits and achievements are just as long as Newman’s conducts the New Zealand Symphony offering suites from six classic scores of Alfred Newman. This is a revisiting of the now defunct Koch label (3-73762HI) recording from 1997. This 500 limited edition release is exactly the same recording and was primarily issued for the purpose of the conductor selling copies at concerts he conducts. In addition, Craig Spaulding of SAE produced the reissue and is making it for sale through his company.

Included are suites from Wuthering Heights, Prince of Foxes, David and Bathsheba, Dragonwyck, The Prisoner of Zenda, and Brigham Young. Tony Thomas, Fred Steiner, and Christopher Palmer all had a hand in  making these works available for symphonic pops orchestras. This is all classic big budget films from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Now a word of caution: This material isn’t close to the original soundtrack material but is a nice compilation of Alfred Newman scored films. This would be a nice way to introduce you to this fine composer as it offers some of his wonderful melodic material. Having said that if you like what you hear you can then explore his material in more depth. I’ve included a discography of more complete recordings all available as new material from SAE, Intrada, and other distributors.

To the seasoned collector you’ll likely find these arrangements a bit on the syrupy side but keep in mind when this was released in 1997 you were not the target market. This is more like what the Boston Pops might do with the material. However, to the best of my knowledge this is the only available recording of material from Brigham Young so in this respect it is unique albeit a scant 5 minutes.

Personally there are many times when I enjoy sitting back and listening to a nice compilation of material. While we can’t put this recording in the category of what Charles Gerhardt did for RCA it is well recorded and performed by Richard Kaufman and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Definitely worth a listen.

CD# RKNEWMAN102

Track listing:

1. Wuthering Heights – Suite (12:40)

Suite arr. by Fred Steiner includes ‘Twin Motives’, Cathy’s Theme, The Moors -theme, Heathcliff Motive, Isabella. With New Zealand Youth Choir

2. Prince of Foxes – Suite (13:19)

Edited by Tony Thomas.

3. David and Bathsheba (03:44)

Love Theme

4. Dragonwyck – Suite (08:43)

Edited by Tony Thomas.

5. Prisoner of Zenda – Suite (07:01)

Arr. by Christopher Palmer as ‘A Ruritanian Rhapsody for Orchestra’

6. Brigham Young: A Symphonic March (05:18)

Arr. by Fred Steiner

Total Duration: 00:50:45

Listing of Alfred Newman Material

1…. Prince of Foxes (FSMCD Vol. 2 No. 5) an original soundtrack release from 1999

2…. Dragonwyck (SAE CRS 0006) an original soundtrack release from 2002

3….Prisoner of Zenda (FSMCD Vol. 7 No. 1) an original soundtrack release from 2004

4….David and Bathsheba (Intrada Special Collection Volume 22) an original soundtrack release from 2005

5….Wuthering Heights (FSM Box 01) An Elmer Bernstein recording from 2006

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