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Film Music Classics - Steiner: Son Of Kong, Etc

Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570183   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Max Steiner
Performer:  Leonid Makarevich
Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

STEINER (recons. Morgan) The Son of Kong. The Most Dangerous Game William Stromberg, cond; Moscow SO NAXOS 8.570183 (77:19)

The informative program notes for this album present a vigorous case for these scores being as good as King Kong , and therefore ranking with Steiner’s best music. There is no doubt about the resemblance to King Kong. The Most Dangerous Game and Read more The Son of Kong immediately preceded and followed that landmark picture and score. The music is typical of Steiner’s RKO years, but it certainly does not rank with his best scores. To be truthful, there are numerous Steiner scores worthier of being recorded, even to the extent that it is almost a shame that so much effort was devoted to the recording of this music. That said, The Son of Kong and The Most Dangerous Game will still be a feast for Steiner zealots.

This is another Naxos reissue from the “Marco Polo Golden Age Film Classics” series with identical sound but less snazzy program notes. For The Son of Kong , Steiner utilized much of the thematic material from King Kong in a fairly subtle way, but most of the score consists of new music in the same style. If you like King Kong , there is no reason why you won’t enjoy The Son of Kong. The Most Dangerous Game is stylistically similar with just as much rambunctious brass, but it doesn’t have the hook of being the offspring of a bona fide film classic. In both scores, there are plenty of stock Steiner suspense cues and braying brass that don’t quite reach the sense-numbing level of King Kong. The Son of Kong contains some luscious bluesy music that anticipates some of the thematic material for the 1950s Gone with the Wind wannabe that also starred Clark Gable, Band of Angels (which contains a remarkably good Steiner score for a really bad film).

For budgetary reasons, The Son of Kong employed a 28-piece orchestra including the grand total of six violins! In comparison, King Kong used 46 musicians on the original soundtrack, many of them playing multiple instruments. As in many other releases in this extremely valuable series, the importance of the work of John Morgan cannot be overstated. He fully reconstructed and orchestrated the music from Steiner’s original sketches. The result is a perfect reproduction of the well-known, full orchestral Steiner sound that is treasured by so many film music fans. Conducting the music is clearly a labor of love for William Stromberg, and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra is magnificent. It never fails to amaze me how this team manages to come so close to reproducing the authentic music of the Golden Age emanating from the legendary studio orchestras of Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and to a lesser extent, MGM and RKO. The sound is big, fat, juicy, and refulgent. It perfectly suits Steiner’s style with an up-front aural perspective. There is plenty of inner detail, including the many instrumental doublings. Despite the volume of the brass instruments, they always remain focused in the back of the orchestra with a soundstage that doesn’t collapse at the massive climaxes. There is no chance that these scores will ever be better recorded or played. If you are a Steiner fan, nothing more needs to be said. If not, the relentless onslaught of decibels may wear you out despite the high quality of every aspect of the production.

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

Son of Kong by Max Steiner
Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2000 
Venue:  Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia 
Length: 45 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: John Morgan. 
The Most Dangerous Game by Max Steiner
Performer:  Leonid Makarevich (Piano)
Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/2000 
Venue:  Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia 
Length: 31 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: John Morgan. 

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