August 29, 2012
This reviewer like’s compilation CD’s manufactured by the companies! Apparently I’m in the minority according to Tadlow executive James Fitzpatrick who says sales have greatly fallen off on these kinds of CD’s. For whatever the reason I certainly don’t understand as this is a perfect introduction to listen to what Tadlow/Prometheus has to offer on CD. The majority of their releases are represented in this 72 minute (Tadlow 016) CD for $9.99. The target market isn’t the individual who already has the majority of the CD’s that this music came from. It is for the person who hasn’t heard what Tadlow has to offer or for someone (like me) who just wants to spin and listen to a wide variety of material. If you hear something you really like the liner notes give the specific recording so purchasing is really quite simple.
“Guns of Navarone” (Tadlow 001) was the very first release from Tadlow and an excellent choice to introduce the company as well as the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. The older Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra has certainly come a long way. There were times when I would cringe during their performance of works such as “Rebecca.” The Prague is now considered in my mind an ‘A’ grade ensemble that can perform soundtrack material as well as Hollywood orchestras.
“Exodus,” (Tadlow 006) an Oscar winner for Ernest Gold, is a recognizable melody that people who have little interest (they’re missing out) in movie music would know where this material came from. I love the opening brass fanfare followed immediately by a full complement of strings. Both melodies are included in the prelude in a recording that sounds every bit as good as when John Williams conducted the Boston Pops.
“True Grit” (Tadlow 002) will always be remembered by the version made popular by Glen Campbell, something that I didn’t care for. In my mind Glen was certainly no actor or singer but he was a good golfer. The suite features the three main themes including a small reference to his “Magnificent Seven” score. Listen for it carefully in the first two minutes of the track.
“The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (Tadlow 004) is one of my all time favorite themes from Rozsa. Billy Wilder, director of the film, asked Rozsa to incorporate this excellent melody, performed by concertmaster Lucie Svehlova, in this version of the Gabrielle theme. The theme perfectly fits Sherlock Holmes, the reason Wilder wanted it adapted to the silver screen and is a treat to listen to over and over.
“The Alamo”(Prometheus XPCD168) is a well organized suite that includes all the themes including the huge hit The Green Leaves of Summer complete with some nice harmonica work. The suite contains 4 themes and all of them are nicely represented in a Tiomkin score that received two nominations (song and score). I like the quicker tempo of Green Leaves in this suite.
“Lawrence of Arabia,”(Tadlow CD012) the first score that got Hollywood’s attention as well as the first of three Oscars for Maurice Jarre features a powerhouse percussion opening and then that beautiful theme we’ve all grown to love and appreciate.
“El Cid” (Tadlow005), another two Oscar nominated (song and score) this time for Miklos Rozsa, is represented with three tracks featuring the Overture, Love Theme Falcon and the Dove, and March. The thirteen minutes pass by quickly. The opening brass fanfare of the march always brings me back to the time I spent in the University of Minnesota marching band.
“Conan the Barbarian” (Prometheus XPCD 169), a fine example of the work of Basil Poledouris, is a combination of two melodies Riddle of Steel, and The Riders of Doom. The powerful chorus makes it seem like it was for an opera. Yet throughout this never goes over the top by being too loud or brash.
“Conan the Destroyer” (Prometheus XPCD 171) features the chorus again in a track Dagoth Ceremony, that is another choral work that is somewhat subdued compared to The Riders of Doom but complements the previous track.
“The Fall of the Roman Empire” (Prometheus XPCD 170), yet another Oscar nomination for Dimitri Tiomkin, is filled with brass fanfares which harmonize nicely with the melody.
“Villa Rides” (Tadlow 014) offers the main title which opens with cymbals and timpani almost out of place until the theme is introduced in a Morricone style with wind and a whistler, a prelude to an acoustic guitar and the orchestra which offers a Spanish flavor and a hint of orchestration and style from his “Grand Prix” theme, another favorite of mine.
“Taras Bulba” (Tadlow 013), a Franz Waxman Oscar nominated score features the famous Dubno theme as well as the Wishing Star love theme. This one is definitely in the underappreciated category but is given three tracks on this CD and each one deserves to be there. I’ve included an audio clip which has the melodies for both 14 – TARAS BULBA OVERTURE
“Prince and the Pauper” (Tadlow 017) another Jarre composition concludes the CD which is a beautiful lush theme that features excellent counterpoint and harmony.
I would have appreciated some sort of liner notes including who orchestrated what but then you now have this review to go by which gives you some information. If you’re looking for a nice compilation CD this would be a recommended purchase. It also gives you a nice sampling of what the complete score is all about. It is also a showcase for the City of Prague Orchestra.
1…. Guns of Navarone (5:29)
2….True Grit (5:59)
3….The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (5:18)
5….The Alamo (5:27)
6….Lawrence of Arabia (4:24)
7….El Cid overture (3:41)
8….El Cid love scene (5:06)
9….El Cid march (4:04)
10…Conan the Barbarian (5:31)
11…Conan the Destroyer (4:40)
12…Fall of the Roman Empire (5:00)
13…Villa Rides (2:43)
14…Taras Bulba overture (2:09)
15…Taras Bulba love theme (2:47)
16…Taras Bulba ride to dubno (5:05)
17…The Prince and the Pauper (2:36)
Total Time is 72:43
August 22, 2012
One of the great advantages reviewing for Naxos is you’re introduced to material you’ve never heard before. In fact I was totally unfamiliar with the composer as well as the Hamlet Overture. Over the years I’ve developed something of a fetish when it comes to music about Hamlet. I currently own the Tchaikovsky (both versions), MacDowell, Doyle, Walton, Morricone, Shostakovich, Gade, Lizst, and Joachim. I’ve probably missed a couple but this is off the top of my head.
Woyrsch considered himself a self taught composer. He learned orchestration from Berlioz, composition from Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner, counterpoint with Palestrina and Gabriel among several. He seemed to be caught up with the older masters and never achieved any level of modernism such as Schoenberg. If he’d been born a 100 years earlier his music would have fit right in with Beethoven, Bruckner, and Brahms.
The third version of the Hamlet Overture received its premiere performance in 1812 conducted by Woyrsch. It was well received by the public and reviews were quite favorable. The work begins as described by the conductor as acrid. The timpani begin the work which is followed by a passage of eeriness setting the stage for a well orchestrated section of conflict. There is a section of the horns playing a fanfare responding to the strings as the melody switches back and forth. Mixed in with the agitation we also hear the romantic theme for Ophelia theme, a sharp contrast to the portrayal of Hamlet. The work ends with a somber steady funeral march.
It takes repeated listens to fully appreciate this fine interpretation of this classic take. Put this one up with the Tchaikovsky Hamlet Fantasy, although it is still a top 100 favorite of mine being the first LP I purchased in the late 50’s. We need to applaud CPO and Thomas Dorsch for introducing this material to us. It is nicely recorded with crisp treble and resonant bass. Also included is Woyrsch’s Symphony No. 2 which will be interviewed in a separate review. Expand your horizons a bit and give this composer a try. Well written and quite lengthy liner notes provide much needed information about this composer.
CPO CD# is 7777442
Thomas Dorsch conducts the Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester
August 16, 2012
With 71 different recordings to choose from why would you want this one? Perhaps you didn’t obtain the Tadlow 012 release from 2010 which was a European release but is the same material as this new Silva recording with the addition of an additional compilation CD of Jarre material. This Silva release in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the film is advertised as a world premiere recording of the complete score with the key word being world. It offers nearly 77 minutes of score as opposed to the Colpix release which only offers 32+ minutes. The re-recording by Tony Bremner for Silva in 1992 is still lacking at 51 minutes.
The controversy in this academy award winning release, the first of three Oscars (Passage to India and Dr. Zhivago the other two) for Maurice Jarre (1924-2009) along with 6 other nominations including Ghost, Ryan’s Daughter, Witness, Gorillas in the Mist, The Message, Sundays and Cybele, and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Beanis who wrote what according to Gerard Schurmann orchestrator for the score. While Frank DeWald in his liner notes says that Jarre wasn’t a novice composer Schurmann claims that other than the percussion parts the work that Jarre turned over to Gerard was at best inadequate. I’ve included a link to an article that Schurmann wrote about his experience in the Lawrence of Arabia score. http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2009/01/lawrence.htm
While some people will find some of the above interesting reading as to who did what the fact remains that the score introduced Jarre to Hollywood and the music is an Oscar winner. I’ve always thought that theme from Born Free (John Barry) had a similar sound and style. The timpani begins the “Overture” with several bars quite loud and distinct introducing the brass who offer dissonant chords with sounds of the middle east another prelude to the main theme offered by the strings with the timpani providing the same bars. The theme shifts to one of the Middle East. The “Main Title” is a combination of another theme in a style that you’ll recognize in other soundtracks written by Jarre. I could hear a strong reference to Grand Prix as an example. I’ve included an audio clip of the “Main Title”02 – main titles to introduce the listener to two of the themes along with the general flavor of the material. Please keep in mind that this is a very low quality clip compared to finely engineered recording from the veteran Gareth Williams. “Lawrence Rides Alone/Exodus” is the first track where the main theme isn’t used and we hear the use of the Odnes Martenot (pre synthesizer but a similar sound). I’ve included part of the “Exodus” track so that you might hear the effective use of this instrument.05 – exodus Effective use of the Kenneth Alford march theme “The Voices of the Guns” is used in track 14,”Military March,” and “The End.” Also listen for the use of the Cithare in the last track as it enhances the track.
If you missed the Tadlow recording now is your opportunity to take advantage of this fine recording. You won’t be disappointed!
1. Overture (04:23)
2. Main Titles (01:56)
3. First Entrance to the Desert (04:25)
4. Night and Stars / Lawrence and Tafas (05:43)
5. Lawrence Rides Alone / Exodus (03:13)
6. We Need a Miracle (02:40)
7. In Whose Name Do You Ride?/ That is the Desert (The Camels Will Die) (05:10)
8. Mirage / The Sun’s Anvil (05:19)
9. Gasim Lost in the Desert (03:29)
10. Lawrence Rescues Gasim / Lawrence Returns with Gasim / The Riding (06:37)
11. Arrival at Auda’s Camp (02:00)
12. Bedouin Feast /On to Akaba / Attack on Akaba / Lawrence at the Sea Shore (06:37)
13. Sinai Desert / After Quicksands / Hutments / Suez Canal (06:16)
14. A Brilliant Bit of Soldiering – The Voice of the Guns (02:05) Kenneth J. Alford
15. Bugle Call / Lawrence on the Terrace / Intermission (01:34)
16. Adulation / The Horse Stampede / Faraj Killed (03:43)
17. Ali Rescues Lawrence / Allenby’s Flattery (03:11)
18. Assembled Army / Lawrence and His Bodyguard / Arab Theme (03:06)
19. Military March (01:18)
20. The End / Play-off Music (04:01)
Total Duration: 01:16:46
August 10, 2012
If one were to put the soundtrack on to “The Fly” and not know what kind of movie it was, this reviewer would have guessed something along the line of a detective/action type film with a strong love interest plot. There are some very tense moments but that dissonant style with the brass is not evident through the majority of the score. It just didn’t project a 50’s Science Fiction to me. When you start listening to “The Return of the Fly” the opening chords immediately identify it as 50’s science fiction film with the hard edge removed and replaced with swirling notes from the string section. This new Kritzerland release is truly a study in contrasts and the films budgets showed that on the screen as well as the film quality. The ‘B’ programmer “The Fly,” with a $700,000 budget quickly got the attention of audiences and became the surprise film of the year for 20th Century Fox who was not known for their science fiction and horror films. It quickly became an ‘A’ picture and made and grossed $3 million dollars. The plot involves breaking down the atomic structure and transporting it elsewhere. The fly in the ointment was the problem and our star turned into a fly that was eventually killed by his wife. Starring David ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’ Hedison, as research scientist Andre Delambre, Patricia Owens as his wife Helene, and Vincent Price as his brother Francois it is nicely directed by Kurt Neumann. Filmed in Cinemascope enhanced the experience along with 4 track stereo sound. If you’ve not seen the film it is well worth a watch.
The score was quite sparse and features a very nice soap opera style romantic theme that appears bookended around two action/suspense cues for the main title. I’m including the audio track of the main and love theme to give you an idea of what you’re in for. 01 – The Fly It is also prominently featured in “Happy Couple” sounding like it came right out of a Max Steiner songbook complete with the harp line he is so well known for as he wrote it in many times for his wife, a harpist. It appears briefly again with violin and bassoon carrying the melody in “The Claw” after an opening of terror. “The Morning After” is standard underscore. “Fly’s Madam/Phillip’s Disappointment/Another Experiment offering three different styles with the last being the love theme again. “Helene’s Discovery” is tension filled and a good example of how effective music can be for films. It includes a brief return to the love theme twice with some excellent brass work and is the longest of the tracks. “Strange Story/Show Me/Help Me” combines three cues again with contrasting styles. “End Title” begins in patriotic fashion concluding with a typical coda.
If lower budget means more music then the sequel fits the bill with twice the amount of material. In fact the last two tracks are over half of the entire fly score! The “Main Title” with the swirling strings and brass statement give it that science fiction sound without the sharp edge you hear in some titles. I’ve included an audio clip in the main title to give you an idea of the sound. 10 – The Return of the Fly While the theme is somewhat subtle it is there and repeated throughout the score. “To the Foundry” has that Egyptian Mummy sound with a creepy oboe to enhance the track. Unlike “The Fly” this is the traditional mono recording. It is a clean remaster without glitches.
This is a limited edition CD of only 1000 copies so it is better to buy sooner than later. If you bought the Percepto release from 2002 it is pretty much the same except the third film of the series “Curse of the Fly” is included in the set.
August 8, 2012
There is a misconception that Naxos is just a budget classical recording label that is foremost in the recording of obscure material. If you were looking for an obscure tone poem from Glazunov they likely had recorded it. Were you also aware that they distribute material for the smaller relatively unknown labels? This is the case with this new release of big band standards by a group of men who call themselves The United States Air Force Airmen of Note formed in 1950 to carry on the tradition of Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band which was hardly what we think of when a marching and concert band is mentioned. We’re not talking Sousa here but a well rehearsed 17 piece swing band that sounds as well as the big bands of the 40’s. The recording engineer whoever he might be (confusing liner notes) knew exactly where to place the microphones to bring out the best sound. It was crisp and conveyed the feeling that they were playing for you right in your living room. You did not get that feeling of muddiness where you can hear the melody fine but there is no separation between the brass and the woodwinds and the percussion is over miked creating that pounding feeling that headaches are made of. The opening of “Satin Doll” is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. You can easily hear the piano, bass, and drums as three separate entities. The extended trombone solo was recorded in such a way that while Jeff Martin was featured the rest of the orchestra was quite distinct and a part of a well tuned machine. Included in the orchestra is a baritone sax as well as a bass trombone which definitely enhance the sound of the ensemble. I’m including the track “April in Paris” which will only you an idea of the type of sound that they offer. The lower bit rate does no justice to the sound quality. airmen of note april in paris
Starting off the CD is a nice swing version of “Jeep Jockey Jump” (a Miller tune) and a style that will set the tone for the majority of the tracks. If your familiar with the original Mancini recording of “Dreamsville “ from his Peter Gunn album you’ll find that the brass harmony sounds exactly like Hank ! The arrangements will offer a number of alto and tenor sax solos as well as trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and drum. and most of the band members are given the opportunity to have their licks. Don’t look for anything or improvisational or special as the band takes from stock arrangements by Oliver, May, Gray and others you’re familiar with but plays them with a nice bounce that will make you want to get out of your chair and dance.
Altissimo CD# isALT61652
1…. Jeep Jockey Jump (2:07)
2…. Pennies from Heaven (2:43)
3…. Rockin in Rhythm (4:12)
4…. Shiny Stockings (5:12)
5…. One O’Clock Jump (2:57)
6…. Cherokee (2:55)
7…. Leap Frog (2:37)
8…. Let’s Dance (2:04)
9…. Swanee River (3:54)
10.. Don’t Be That Way (3:13)
11.. Sing, Sing, Sing (3:40)
12.. Moten Swing (5:03)
13.. Opus One (2:58)
14.. That Old Black Magic (2:48)
15.. April in Paris (3:49)
16.. All of Me (2:45)
17.. Lonely Street (3:12)
18.. Satin Doll (5:06)
19.. Fly Me To The Moon (2:36)
20.. Dreamsville (3:11)
Total Time is 68:19