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Editor's Choice

Best of the Month

October 2007

 

 

Legendary Hollywood:
Alfred Newman Conducts His Classic
Motion Picture Scores

 

 

15 Tracks (Playing Time = 47:50)

Track Titles:

1. HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY [4:10]
2. ALL ABOUT EVE (Main Title) [3:35]
3. A LETTER TO THREE WIVES [3:25]
4. WUTHERING HEIGHTS [3:20]
5. A ROYAL SCANDAL (Overture) [[1:08]
6. THE SONG OF BERNADETTE [3:26]
7. PINKY [3:14]
8. STREET SCENE (Sentimental Rhapsody) [2:55]
9. THE RAZOR'S EDGE [3:37]

CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE (Suite)
10. Prelude/ Pedro De Vargas, Captain from Castile) [2:55]
11. Catana, The Young Peasant Girl [3:02]
12. Lady Luisa/ Juan the Adventurer/ Wonders of the New World [3:07]
13. Magic Ring/ Fears of Persecution/ Compassionate Priest [ 3:02]
14. Fulfillment in the New World (Catana's Love) [3:08]
15. Conquest [3:02]

Produced for Citadel by Tom Null. Producers: Carol Schofield and Diana Singleton. Mastering Engineer: Charlie Watts. Graphic Design: Mark Banning. Previously issued as Citadel LP CT-7015 (1980) and Varese Sarabande CD Club limited release VCL 9201.11 (1992).

Citadel Records CD STC 77139

Rating: ****

 

Alfred Newman was truly one of the finest film composers of Hollywood's Golden Age. He also currently holds the record for the number of music Oscars with nine of them.

This sampler CD provides some of the highlights of his illustrious career with an unidentified orchestra (perhaps his studio musicians at 20th Century-Fox ) under Newman's direction.

Though many of the themes and suites are available in nearly complete versions on various CDs, this remains a very good variety of Newman's best film scores -- from the gorgeous melodies in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1940) and the heartbreaking "Cathy's Theme" from WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939) -- to the theme from one of his towering achievements, the Oscar-winning score for THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943). There are also snappier themes such as the Main Title from ALL ABOUT EVE (1950), the Overture to A ROYAL SCANDAL (1945), and especially the famous Gershwin-like "Sentimental Rhapsody" from 1931's STREET SCENE.

The last six tracks are devoted to a suite from CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE (1947). There has been a superb 2 CD release of this great score by Screen Archives Entertainment which has most of the score (about 90 minutes) and is in Stereo as well. That release is recommended for completists or diehard film music collectors. But if you don't want to spend a lot of money for it and are satisfied with the highlights as chosen by Newman himself, then this Citadel CD should suffice quite nicely. Certainly the best known theme from this Tyrone Power classic is the last track on the CD, the majestically robust cue known as "Conquest," and it is given an exciting and exuberant treatment by Newman.

These recordings do show their age, yet the sound quality is amazing in its clarity. It states in the notes that this CD is "released in cooperation with the Alfred Newman Estate" and "these historic archival recordings were made between 1947 and 1951." The sources have been remastered to minimize the noises and other imperfections and the end result is a highly satisfying listening experience. Kudos to the Mastering Engineer, Charlie Watts. The recording was first issued on a Citadel LP, then later on a Varese Sarabande Club CD, which had only a limited release.

Mark Banning's CD booklet design is most appealing, with colorful film poster illustrations and a photo of Alfred Newman conducting the orchestra printed right on the CD itself. The notes are by the much respected late film historian Tony Thomas and, though brief, provide just enough information for each film theme or suite. He begins his notes with this glowing endorsement:

"Even allowing for Hollywood hyperbole, there is no risk in acclaiming Alfred Newman as the most remarkable, multi-talented man in the history of film music.; his like will probably not be seen again."

While I would mostly agree with this statement, I think that "his like" has been seen in the person of John Williams, who has nearly equaled Alfred Newman in his accomplishments, except for the number of Oscars and Williams not being head of a studio music department (which does not really exist anymore).

If you have never heard the film music of Alfred Newman this is an ideal introduction to his best work. Even if you know his music, the CD should give much pleasure, as long as you're agreeable to listening to it in the clean vintage mono sound.

This is an outstanding historic film music release and everyone involved deserves high praise for their efforts.

Highest recommendation.

--Roger L. Hall, 23 October 2007

Comments regarding this review can be sent to: Film Music Review

 


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