https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-golden-age-of-hollywoodcompilation-of-soundtrack-composers

 

https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/golden-age-of-hollywood-2compilation-of-film-composers/

 

Continuing the series of golden age music the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra offers the listener material unique to many of the film compilation CD’s available on the market today. Coupled with the first two volumes (links of the reviews above) the listener is given over three hours of material from many of the icons of film music. The orchestra is well rehearsed, conducted, and recorded. I especially noticed the clarity when a single instrument performed on a track. Producer Andrew Walton chose material well and your ears are certainly in for a treat as you go through volume three.

On the Waterfront (1954), the only time Leonard Bernstein wrote for the movies, is a twenty minute suite he created for performance by a classical orchestra. The opening French horn solo offers the sad main theme one that has a similar melody to the Jerry Goldsmith theme from “Chinatown.” A flute repeats the melody with harmony provided by a muted trombone. The percussion is a signal for a dramatic change as a dissonant sax is a prelude to the full orchestra giving us a distorted jazz melody similar in style to his music from “West Side Story.” The complex orchestration offers swirling strings, staccato motifs, and wild sounding brass with well placed percussion. A solo sax leads the strings to a third melodramatic theme that oozes tragedy. The flute offers a ray of hope with a pretty love melody. As you listen to the suite you’ll be exposed to jazz, classical, romance, and tension. In a word it’s outstanding.

While Leonard did but the single score the opposite is true of Elmer, the other Bernstein who was one of the busiest composers in the last half of the 20th Century. While Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) isn’t in the same league as his “Magnificent Seven” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” all composed around the same time it is still a wonderful theme telling the story of Robert Stroud. It begins with flighty flute and quickly changes to a fugue as the oboe and bassoon talk to one another. The suite changes to one of proud and majestic with proud horns ending the track in a crescendo. Jazz is the order of the day in The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) dominated by a gritty brass section featuring a trumpet solo that screams backed by dominant brass. Elmer Bernstein, the composer made his mark on the jazz scene with this powerful track. While this reviewer will always remember David Rose for his instrumental song Holiday for Strings the public will remember him for the often used Burlesque (Stripper) in films. Featuring the raucous drum beat and the bright and vivid brass could be ranked number one as source music for a variety of situations. While not as well known, George Auric wrote a wonderful score for the Oscar winning film Roman Holiday (1953). The theme is a tribute to Italy its country and music in a scant three minutes. Writing the prelude was one of the tunesmith’s of Hollywood Victor Young whose music is featured in the next two tracks Shane and Around the World in 80 Days. The mini suite for Shane features the opening title Call of the Faraway Hills, a study in how to compose music for an expansive scene and a romantic love theme as beautiful as Hollywood has ever heard. The glitter of the silver screen was never more evident in the extravaganza Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Victor Young wrote the perfect waltz for the famous balloon race filmed in Todd-AO 70mm, a forgotten process that was nothing short of spectacular if you ever had the opportunity to see it in the original format. Murder on the Orient Express (1974); composed by the extremely versatile Richard Rodney Bennett is a classic waltz that certainly would have put a smile on Agatha Christie’s face. The track has a somewhat creepy prelude as the orchestra builds up to playing the waltz. The sound effect of the train, although brief in duration, was annoying. On my first listen I thought there was going to be singing! Moving past that the waltz is superb as strings and brass participate in it. Is Paris Burning (1966), composed by Maurice Jarre is a fine example of his sound. Somewhat period sounding with the tuba and accordion this carousel sound works quite well in the film. If I weren’t familiar with the work of Franz Waxman I would have said Philadelphia Story (1940) was a George Gershwin composition without hesitation. It has that jazzy swaying aura to it and you feel time warped back into another era listening to the wonderful melody. Laura (1944), a classic noir from Otto Preminger composed by underappreciated David Raksin was an example of writing a monothematic score and having it work quite successfully in a film. The suite offers sentimental, sweet band, and waltz as you listen to just some of the different ways the song can be arranged. The final selection is the Billy Wilder noir film Double Indemnity (1944) with classic music by Miklos Rozsa. This suite is filled with yearning violins, dissonant crescendos, and dark brass that will put a shiver up your spine.

 

Richard Bernas and the Royal Philharmonic do a fine job performing this unusual selection of soundtrack material. Yes I could do without the lion roar and train whistle but this certainly doesn’t prevent me from enjoying this new offering from the Royal Philharmonic. I look forward to more!

Track Listing:

1… On the Waterfront (20:24)

2… Birdman of Alcatraz (2:47)

3… The Man with the Golden Arm (3:27)

4… Burlesque (1:43)

5… Roman Holiday (3:01)

6… Shane (2:47)

7… Around the World in 80 Days (3:17)

8… Murder on the Orient Express (3:48)

9… Is Paris Burning (3:38)

10… The Philadelphia Story (3:55)

11… Laura (6:23)

12… Double Indemnity (8:39)

Total Time is 63:49

CD# is RPO 023 CD

 

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in its continuing series of Here Come The Classics is offering a 77 minute compilation of golden age film music from the 30’s to the 70’s in very straight forward arrangements that offer an easy listening orchestration to the material. There are no surprises on this disc other than 4 of the 15 tracks are devoted to Psycho. The one hour plus will certainly bring back nostalgia of some of the classic films of all time!

It is only fitting that the greatest of western themes from Hollywood, The Big Country from Jerome Moross opens this disk. I’m still amazed to this day that this classic score lost the Oscar in 1958 to the Tiomkin soundtrack The Old Man And The Sea. I can’t recall seeing its main theme appear on any compilation recordings but it certainly reinforces my lack of interest in what Hollywood thinks. The swirling strings at breakneck speed complimented by crisp brass are a prelude to the main theme, bold and majestic played by the strings with appropriate harmony from the brass. Moross created a template that Hollywood Westerns used for many years and I’m sure that Copland, father of the Americana sound, would have been proud of. A nine minute suite of the film Casablanca which includes the famous song “As Time Goes By,” not original material written for the film, but one of the greatest songs from a Hollywood picture of all time is offered in an uncomplicated piano solo as well as sweet strains from the strings. Intermixed with the theme are the strains of the Marseillaise (French Anthem) along with original underscore from Max Steiner. 1945 was a very good year for Miklos Rozsa who not only won an Oscar for his Spellbound score but was also nominated for The Lost Weekend, the score he preferred. So popular was the melody that Rozsa made a single movement 13 minute piano concerto that is nicely played by Roderick Elms. It captures the sentimentality as well as the tension. Some of the finest underscore ever written for Hollywood was found in Psycho which is famous for the string slashing motif that went along with the shower stabbing scene in the film. Herrmann was a master at enhancing photographic situations and the four tracks included in this compilation certainly emphasize his ability to create terror from his cues. Guns of Navarone is a splendid example of how the Russian composer Dimitri Tiomkin was able to create wonderful thematic material in a classical orchestration like his fellow countrymen Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. The arrangement offers bright brass that exchanges the melody with the strings and is nicely complimented by percussion. Two selections “Love Theme” and “Parade of the Charioteers” are the highlight of another Oscar winner, Ben Hur, for Miklos Rozsa. His classical Hungarian training was never surpassed by this epic work. The versatility of Herrmann was clearly evident in his jazzy alto saxophone approach to Taxi Driver a complete 180 degrees from Psycho. The lush solo is performed by Phil Todd and nicely performed by the Royal Philharmonic in a standard arrangement of the material. Being true to the composers he followed, Strauss and Wagner, Korngold created a symphonic masterpiece in his score Sea Hawk. The fanfare of the brass that opens the cue is unforgettable. Performed with the same frequency as Spellbound the Warsaw Concerto is a showpiece for a concert pianist and is nicely played by Roderick Elms in this sentimental version from the film Dangerous Moonlight. No compilation would be complete without Tara’s theme from Gone With The Wind. Selznick’s greatest film achievement is perfectly enhanced by the writing of Max Steiner. Magnificent Seven is offered in a new fresh arrangement from Paul Batemen that includes a rousing prelude, brightly colored brass, and crisp strings in the best performance on this CD.

The seasoned collector is going to find little appeal to this offering as he likely has Charles Gerhardt, John Williams, and others performing this material in their collection already. The occasional film music listener, fan of the Royal Philharmonic, and pops enthusiast, will find this well recorded and performed offering delightful listening. I’ve included my favorite track on the CD for you to enjoy. Magnificent Seven – 15 – Track 15

CD# RPO017

Track Listing:

1… The Big Country: Main Theme (3:01)

2… Casablanca: Suite (9:10)

3… Spellbound: Concerto (13:20)

4… Psycho: Suite-Prelude (2:11)

5… Psycho: Suite-The Stairs (1:39)

6… Psycho: Suite-The Murder (0:56)

7… Psycho: Suite-Finale (2:10)

8… The Guns of Navarone: Main Theme (2:36)

9… Ben-Hur: Love Theme (4:35)

10.. Ben-Hur: Parade of the Charioteers (3:22)

11.. Taxi Driver: Main Theme (7:41)

12.. The Sea Hawk Main Theme (8.25)

13.. Dangerous Moonlight: Warsaw Concerto (9:25)

14.. Gone With The Wind: Tara (4:36)

15.. The Magnificent Seven: Overture (4:12)

Total time is 77:26