Erich Kunzel's new Vintage Cinema film music collection will have obvious appeal for film buffs who have actually seen these celluloid classics (if you haven't, you can find many of them on the Turner Classic Movies channel); but the music is also compelling enough on its own. The disc begins in a "big" way with Max Steiner's imposing King Kong main title, which then segues into the primitive frenzy of Skull Island. Following this is Korngold's sparkling "Robin Hood and His Merry Men" from The Adventures Of Robin Hood--an all too brief excerpt from this great composer.
We get substantially more from Miklós Rózsa: the alluring, theremin-graced Spellbound Suite and the epic El Cid. Franz WaxmanRead more does him one better with three items: his darkly unsettling Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, and the rousing "Ride of the Cossacks" from Taras Bulba. Alex North's A Streetcar Named Desire is credited with being the first jazz movie score, using the genre to evoke the sultry heat of both the characters and the locale. Leonard Bernstein's On the Waterfront suite (here compressed into a five-minute sampling) features raw-edged fight music that's soothed by one of his most touching love themes.
The other Bernstein, Elmer, makes an appearance in the main title theme from To Kill a Mockingbird. Aaron Copland's at turns stoic and folksy The Red Pony is an example of the music being far more familiar than the film. It's puzzling why Bernard Herrmann, one of great film composers of this era, was limited to a less than three-minute presence on this album. Still, his overture to North by Northwest is among the program's most distinctive and exciting, especially at Kunzel's breathless tempo (it certainly wasn't this fast in the film!).
Kunzel leads generally convincing performances (although he could have given us more brutality in Skull Island), with characteristically marvelous playing by the Cincinnati Pops. Telarc's recording is quite low level, but cranking the volume fills out the sound handsomely. Here's yet another winner in Telarc's film music series. Strongly recommended!
A Place in the Sun: Suiteby Franz Waxman Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1951; USA
On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suiteby Leonard Bernstein Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1955; USA Notes: This work is presented in excerpted form.
North by Northwest: Overtureby Bernard Herrmann Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1959; USA
El Cid: Overtureby Miklós Rózsa Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1962; USA
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