Classic Film Scores of Alfred Newman
February 18, 2011
First released in 1973 on the RCA label (ARL 0184) this series opened up a world of film music to the average person on the street. Gerhardt made them aware that film music was a lot more than musical notes in the background of a scene. His arrangements and the performance of the National Philharmonic Orchestra only enhanced his case to the public and these releases became very popular. The performances were a step above the pop arrangements as the participants involved truly had a feel for film music. Included along with Alfred Newman in the film releases were Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman, and Miklos Rozsa the hall of fame names in Golden Age Film Music. The USPS even issued a CD Celebrating the Classics in 1999 when they honored these six individuals with stamps.
The selection process for Newman was a good one as it included a wide range of different films he was involved in. His name is a household one to film like Barrymore is to the stage and screen. Today the tradition is carried on by nephew Randy and son Thomas but his two brothers were also involved in the silver screen at the same time Alfred was. “Street Scene” has become a standard for orchestra’s world over and is a wonderful Gershwin style composition that has found its way into many films, commercials, hold music for phones, and elevators. It has that New York swagger from the 30’s as Newman captured the feeling of the city perfectly. “Captain from Castile” with the lush love theme and the world famous “Conquest” march (University of Southern California theme song) played by every marching band in the world at one time or another has become as popular as any Sousa march. “Cathy’s Theme” from Wuthering Heights is another well known theme and an example of a love theme I’m confident that many composers have studied and learned from. To this day it can still bring a tear to my eye. Down to the Sea in Ships with the “Hornpipe” theme is a rollicking chanty depicting the sea instantly recognizable by film fans. Lovely, religious, and moving can only describe his Oscar winning Song of Bernadette score as he perfectly captured the mood of the box office blockbuster for 20th Century Fox who he spent over 20 years working for. Some of the same adjectives can be used for The Robe in the compilation of different themes selected by Gerhardt and Korngold. “Airport,” written in 1975 has quite a modern sound depicting the busy activity of an airport terminal. The style of music could fit any number of different pictures and upon first listen I can remember thinking about a television theme. In Bravados Newman created a western theme for the adult movie that departed from the Copland template with its staccato brass. The beautiful The Best of Everything and the tragic Anastasia complete this all too brief 45 minute recording. The 40 minute mark was 20 minutes or so per side of a standard vinyl lp as this was recorded in 1973.
This release is nothing short of a top 100 must have CD for your collection. It doesn’t matter that there are a couple of minor glitches in the transfer and it has slightly less dynamic range than your digital recording of today. A word of caution is to avoid the Dolby surround release from the 80’s that RCA released. The sound quality is somewhat less than compared to this new transfer. Newman is to be looked up to as one of the six who started the Hollywood sound and this release is not only a perfect introduction but one that can’t be passed up. Highly recommended.
Total Duration: 00:43:40
A Sony/RCA Red Release #88697 77936 2
Charles Gerhardt conducts the National Philharmonic Orchestra
Produced by George Korngold