CLASSICAL LOST AND FOUND
(CLOFO)
FORGOTTEN MUSIC BY GREAT COMPOSERS AND GREAT MUSIC BY FORGOTTEN COMPOSERS



31 MARCH 2011

CROCKS NEWSLETTER

The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the Web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.



The album cover may not always appear.
Brant: Concord Sym (orch Ives "Concord" Son, w Copland); Jacobs/Thomas/SanFr S [SFS (Hybrid)]
AUDIOPHILE BEST FIND (1 SACD)
Modern American music enthusiasts will find this recent hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.1), release from SFS Media indispensable. The featured attraction, A Concord Symphony, is a stunning orchestration by Canadian-born, American composer Henry Brant (1913-2008) of Charles Ives' (1874-1954, see the newsletter of 21 December 2009) monumental second piano sonata subtitled "Concord, Mass., 1840-1860." And the companion piece, Copland's (1900-1990) Organ Symphony (1924), ain’t chopped liver!

Ives was sketching the sonata as early as 1904, but it wasn't finished until 1919, and 1947 would roll around before it was put in final form. Charlie's tribute to transcendentalism, it takes its name from Concord, Massachusetts, which was home to the first American proponents of this philosophy (c. 1836-60). Some of them are the subjects for the four musical portraits making it up.

Enter Henry Brant, who became so captivated with the sonata he began transcribing it for full orchestra in 1958. A monumental undertaking and true labor of love, he wouldn't finish his expanded version until 1994.

It begins with a symphonic picture of the founding father and guru of American transcendentalism, lecturer-writer-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, see the newsletter of 21 December 2009). The longest and most conflicted of the symphony's sections, it bears repeated listening to be fully appreciated.

The music suggests the difficulties Emerson encountered with intellectuals as well as dogmatic Christian groups in propounding the nature-science-oriented tenets of transcendentalism. Right from the beginning, there are unexpected references to the four-note fate motif (FF) from Beethoven's (1770-1827) fifth symphony (1807). These will recur in the next two sections, and Ives tells us they represent, "the soul of humanity knocking at the door of the divine mysteries, radiant in the faith that it will be opened." A lovely melodic inner episode introduced by an impressionistic descending motif (ID) [track-1, beginning at 06:42] may allude to the years of marital bliss Emerson experienced at his home in Concord.

The scherzoesque picture of author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) that's next finds Ives feeling a bit more waggish. This seems in keeping with Hawthorne's more casual approach to transcendentalism as opposed to that of the Alcotts (see below), who sold him their house in Concord, or his neighbors Emerson and Thoreau (see below).

What starts off as a lighthearted mercurial romp suddenly becomes threatening, otherworldly and mysterious. There are tone clusters à la Henry Cowell (1897-1965), which are played with a fourteen-inch board in the piano version. Hints of those folk tunes and hymns Ives so loved to quote abound along with more references to FF [track-2, beginning at 04:27].

A lovely rapturous passage [track-2, beginning at 05:37] follows, only to be trampled by the composer's own Country Band March (1903) [track-2, beginning at 06:36]. The uproarious state of pandemonium that ensues contains snatches of an old Ives' favorite, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," and the movement ends with Charlie's version of a "Mannheim Rocket" (see the newsletter of 6 January 2011). The diversity of moods present makes one wonder if Ives also had characters and incidents from Hawthorne's stories in mind.

The inspiration for the romantic slow movement is the Alcott family, which included teacher-writer Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), his wife Abby May (1800-1877) and their four daughters. One of them was Louisa May (1832-1888), whose novel Little Women (1868-69) is set in the Alcott's Concord home. The peaceful opening theme is derived from FF, which makes several forceful appearances before the movement ends in domestic tranquility.

A man of many pursuits which included philosophy, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is the subject of the symphony's concluding portrait. He was born and spent most of his life in Concord, and it was there he met Emerson. The older man immediately took a paternal interest in him, encouraging him to contribute poems and articles to The Dial, which was the transcendentalists' official mouthpiece.

The movement begins with a detached nonchalance reminiscent of the opening from Stravinsky's (1882-1971) Rite of Spring (1913, revised 1947). What follows might best be described as an elegiac musical stream-of-consciousness quite in line with the diversity of Thoreau's interests. There are also occasional echoes of the more tumultuous moments in "Emerson" (see above), and additional references to ID. The movement ends in a state of tonal ambiguity that seems in keeping with the elusive nature of transcendentalist precepts.

Turning from the programmatic to pragmatic, the concert continues with Aaron Copland's Organ Symphony written in 1924 on a commission from the doyenne of twentieth century music teachers, Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979, see the newsletter of 22 November 2010). This was occasioned by Aaron having been one of her most promising students, and Nadia, who was also a distinguished organist, wanting a new American piece she could play during an upcoming visit to the U.S.

He came through with flying colors, producing a work that's European in spirit, but with jazz elements presaging his later Americanized efforts such as Billy the Kid (1938) and Appalachian Spring (1944). Virgil Thomson (1896-1989, see the newsletter of 22 November 2010), who was studying with Boulanger when it premiered, told her it made him weep. When asked why, he retorted in typical cheeky Thomson fashion, "Because I had not written it myself!" This is appropriate commentary on a work that becomes a blockbuster when played by a first-class orchestra in a great sounding hall with a spectacular organ like the one here (7,323 pipes; by Fratelli Ruffatti of Padua, Italy).

The dreamy opening prelude for pianissimo organ with flute, harp and strings is mesmerizing, and one-eighty out from the aggressive, rhythmically percussive scherzo that's next. It begins with the orchestra repeating a two-note, hiccupping motif (TH), under which the organ enters surreptitiously, playing a melody reminiscent of the tune for the French folk song "Alouette" [track-6, beginning at 00:43]. The music builds to a percussive crescendo that dies away into a quiet bluesy passage (see the newsletter of 23 February 2011). But more TH spasms break out in the orchestra, and the "Alouette" idea assumes “big tune” status on the organ. The movement ends with a playful exchange between the two and a final paroxysmic "hic."

The beginning of the finale is a dirge accented with outbursts from the organ, brass and percussion. The tempo and tension gradually increase becoming march-like, and building to a scurrying conclusion punctuated with overpowering declarations from everyone. There's a structural sophistication and air of confidence about the piece that belie the fact Copland was only twenty-three when he wrote it.

As far as Ives' orchestral music is concerned, two conductors immediately come to mind, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) and Michael Tilson Thomas (b. 1944), who does the honors here with the San Francisco Symphony. His ability to sort out all the tonal, rhythmic and dynamic complexities of an Ives score is exceptional, and his reading of A Concord Symphony will probably be definitive for some time to come. He also gives us a stunning rendition of the Copland along with celebrated organist Paul Jacobs.

Both recordings were taken from live performances and seem to benefit from the added sense of spontaneity and excitement that usually accompany them. Done in Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, there's no detectable audience noise except for applause at the end of each piece. And there’s enough of a pause after the Ives to stop the disc before any clapping starts.

The two-channel CD and SACD modes project a stupendous soundstage commensurate with the considerable forces assembled here. One does get the feeling of looking down on the orchestra, probably because the main microphones were directly above it. However, the SACD multi-channel version will put you front-row-center.

The orchestral timbre is decidedly bright -- the SACD track a little less so than the CD -- giving more definition and focus to these complex scores. The added presence of a monster organ and percussion section with a heavy-duty bass drum gives rise to some awesome dynamics. The frequency response is equally impressive with flashing highs and seismic but well defined lows. You won't have to dust your speakers for a week after this one, and audiophiles will be in sonic seventh heaven. CAUTION: Tie down loose objects before playing!

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110331)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Gershwin: Rhap... (1924 cpte, w Johnson, Reser & Suesse); Soloists/Rosenberg/HotSprFest SO [Naxos]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Conductor Richard Rosenberg has a knack for ferreting out undeservedly forgotten symphonic music by nineteenth and early twentieth century American composers. Not too long ago he came up with that terrific Gottschalk (1829-1869) disc we told you about (see the newsletter of 30 June 2007), and now he gives us another equally desirable one. It features five heavily jazz-influenced concertante works (four for piano and one for banjo) dating from 1922 through 1932. Four are world premiere recordings indicated by "WPR" after their titles.

The program begins with a selection by James P. Johnson (1894-1955), who was the father of stride piano and wrote the ever popular Charleston (1925). His Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody (1927) for piano with an orchestral accompaniment by American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978, see the newsletter of 21 December 2009) is presented in its complete final form (WPR). Incidentally it was Johnson's protégé pianist Fats Waller (1904-1943) who gave the premiere.

Incorporating spirituals and blues melodies, it's a musical picture of the Yamekraw Negro community outside Savannah, Georgia. You'll find yourself totally captivated by this brilliantly orchestrated, thoroughly engaging piece, It's full of toe-tapping tunes, and anticipates the boogie-woogie fad of the 1940s and 50s [track-1, beginning at 06:48]. Make sure to read Maestro Rosenberg's excellent album notes for more details about Johnson and his music.

The next selection is a real rarity originally penned between 1922 and 1930 by one of the greatest banjoists of all time, Harry F. Reser (1896-1965). Later orchestrated and performed here by one of his equally talented younger colleague Don Vappie, it's a suite for banjo and orchestra. In three movements, the plucky first, folk-sounding second, and virtuosic helter-skelter third explore every facet of the banjo, proving it's a compelling solo instrument.

And now for the centerpiece of this release, a recording of George Gershwin's (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue (WPR) quite unlike any you've ever heard. But to understand why, a few words are in order about the history of this piece.

It all started in 1923 when legendary bandleader Paul Whiteman (1890-1967, see the newsletter of 10 March 2007) commissioned Gershwin to write a concerto-like work for an all-jazz concert he was scheduled to give early the following year. George accepted, starting on it only five weeks before the scheduled event. Fearing he wouldn't finish in time, he asked Whiteman to loan him his arranger, Ferde Grofé (1892-1972, see the newsletter of 20 November 2006), for some help with the orchestration.

Paul agreed and the two produced an arrangement for Whiteman's twenty-four member jazz band plus violins. But time constraints related to the planned concert forced them to shorten it, and it's either this or one of Grofé's later arrangements enlarging it for pit (1926) and then full orchestra (1942, see the newsletter of 22 November 2010) that you hear today.

Fortunately George's older brother Ira (1896-1983) had kept the original unabridged manuscript and parts, giving copies of them to Rosenberg back in 1978. The arrangement on this CD is based on these, and you’ll find a big difference between it and later versions. In addition to a couple of places that will be completely new to you, there's a spontaneity, jauntiness and abandon which make this a more infectiously jazzy piece. With just a handful of instrumentalists, Grofé produced a highly colorful arrangement with an intimacy many may find preferable to what they grew up with.

Ever heard of Nadine Dana Suesse (1909-1987)? Probably not, but she was an accomplished songwriter-composer back in the 1930s whom The New Yorker magazine once dubbed "Girl Gershwin." Two of her creations, Jazz Nocturne of 1931 (WPR) and Concerto in Three Rhythms from 1932 (WPR), conclude this enterprising disc. The former is a winsome instrumental with a familiar episodic melody (FE) [track-6, beginning at 01:20] that lyricist Edward Heyman (1907-1981) would later set to words as the hit song "My Silent Love" (1932).

Like Rhapsody..., the concerto was written in response to a commission by Paul Whiteman, who considered Suesse, George’s female counterpart. Also orchestrated by Grofé, it's in three movements and opens with an allegro that’s a hip fantasia with a foxtrot beat. There are moments when you may experience feelings of déjà vu recalling FE in the preceding piece.

The adagio is a skillfully written, melancholy study in the blues, but the mood shifts with the exuberant concluding presto based on an insistent ragtime riff. With this concerto Ms. Suesse turned to more classically oriented pursuits, eventually spending three years during the 1940s studying with Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979, see the Copland recommendation above) in Paris.

Pianists Gary Hammond, Tatiana Roitman, Peter Mintun and Michael Gurt are the respective soloists in the four piano selections, while banjoist Don Vappie is featured in the Gershwin and Reser pieces. All are in top form, and along with Richard Rosenberg conducting the Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony Orchestra with an assist from the Créole Serenaders in the Gershwin, make a strong case for this music.

Recorded on four different occasions between 2005 and 2009 at the Hot Springs Field House in Arkansas, the sonics are amazingly consistent. The soundstage projected is of just the right proportions and in a lush venue, which enriches these colorful scores without obscuring their detail.

The balance between the soloists and orchestra is ideal with the banjo and bass drum deftly highlighted in tutti passages, giving the music all the more rhythmic punch. The orchestral timbre is very natural, and the piano well rounded to the point where it may occasionally sound recessed. But better that than those “digital nasties” frequently associated with this instrument.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110330)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com ClassicsOnline.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear.
Nowakowski: Pno Qnt 2 (w vn, va, vc & dblb; w Noskowski & Stolpe); Dybal/Vien Pno Qnt [Camerata]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Four rare chamber works by three little known nineteenth century Polish composers make their disc debuts on this highly recommendable release from Camerata. Although the influence of Chopin (1810-1849) is quite apparent, they still have something new to say, making them welcome additions to the chamber music canon. All include a double bass, which is not that surprising considering it's long been a favorite of Polish folk groups.

The program begins with the second of Józef Nowakowski's (1800-1865) two piano quintets. Published in 1833, it would remain lost along with most of his other chamber music until 2003, when it resurfaced in Berlin. It’s in four movements, and like Schubert's (1797-1828) Trout Quintet, calls for a double bass instead of a second viola or cello. You'll find the work sounds all the richer for it!

The opening allegro is in extended sonata form with some memorable melodies. It's followed by a folkish presto wherein an animated tune do-si-dos with a lovely slower one. There's an attractive angularity about the thematic material in both movements, recalling Robert Schumann (1810-1856), who knew Nowakowski through his concertizing in Europe, and thought very highly of him.

Despite glimmers of the composer's good friend Chopin in the captivating romance and concluding rondo, Nowakowski remains his own man, ending the work in charming Slavic fashion. And speaking of Chopin, the chamber versions of his two piano concertos (1829-30) were contemporary with this quintet, and it’s interesting to compare them. For the most part the Chopin pieces come off as keyboard athletic contests with string cheering sections, while all of the players in the Nowakowski are constantly interacting and always have something interesting to say.

Next a brief interlude, Zygmunt Noskowski's (1846-1907) titillating Polonaise Elegiac (c. 1885) for double bass with piano accompaniment. This man wrote a substantial amount of music, and those lucky enough to have gotten a couple of Olympia CDs (no longer available), featuring some of his chamber and symphonic works, will remember him as an exceptionally talented but greatly underappreciated composer. Lasting only a minute and three-quarters, the selection here will act as a teaser for a Noskowski revival.

The biggest surprise on this disc of discovery is Antoni Stolpe's (1851-1872) piano sextet (1867). Originally a four-movement work, only the first and third have survived. Both are drop-dead gorgeous with a melodic grace that's truly exceptional, and would seem to be a trademark of this neglected composer. They leave the listener with deep regrets about the loss of the other two. And the situation is made all the more lamentable when one learns the composer died at the early age of twenty-one, having completed only a handful of works.

The concluding selection, also by Stolpe, is a polonaise for piano sextet (no date given) in which the rhythms and embellishments peculiar to that popular Polish dance once more bring Chopin to mind. But that sense of melodic grace noted above is again present to the point where one could almost consider this a surrogate finale for the previous piece.

The Vienna Piano Quintet with an assist from double bassist Jurek Dybal deliver remarkably sensitive, letter-perfect performances of this music. The tender care they lavish on every note of these scores is exceptional, particularly the Stolpe selections which come across as romantic mini-masterpieces.

These demonstration quality studio recordings project a convincing soundstage in a warm acoustic. The piano is perfectly captured with gorgeous rounded tone, and the strings are completely natural with no hint of glare. The instrumental balance is ideal, bringing out all the subtle nuances of this underappreciated music.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110329)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com


OLD BUT GOLD


The album cover may not always appear. The album cover may not always appear.
Korngold: Elizabeth & Essex - Private Lives of (w excs fm 6 other films); Gerhardt/Na PO [RCA]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Korngold: Sea Hawk (w excs fm 11 other films); Gerhardt/Na PO [RCA]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Not long ago Sony Music released remastered versions of thirteen CDs in the ground-breaking "Classic Film Scores" series produced for RCA in 1972-75 by conductor Charles Gerhardt (1927-1999) and composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s (1897-1957) younger son George (1928-1987). Done over thirty years ago, the original recordings may be "old," but film buffs and audiophiles have always considered them "gold." Consequently you'll find five of them covered here, and the rest in the upcoming 18 April 2011 newsletter.

When released they set a new standard for analog recorded sound, thanks to the efforts of Maestro Gerhardt and, except for the David Raksin (1912-2004) disc, legendary recording engineer Kenneth Wilkinson (1912-2004) utilizing the heavenly acoustics of London's Kingsway Hall (1912-1998, and originally a place of worship). That said, it should be noted there were isolated instances of background noise on the master tapes probably due to a timpanic podium, the rumble of outside transportation, and possibly a couple of overloaded spots.

First issued in the early 1970s as stereo LPs, they later appeared around 1990 on matrix-encoded "Dolby Surround" CDs. The latter were billed as fully compatible with conventional two-channel players and systems, but they sounded far inferior to the vinyl discs, projecting a muffled, pinched orchestral image.

Fortunately that's not true of the new lot. Sony has redone them sans "Surround," creating CDs having a wider arier soundstage, greater instrumental detail, and deeper as well as cleaner bass than even the original LPs. However, as is usually the case with “Red Book” CDs, pointy-eared audiophiles may sense a stridency in the upper end that detracts from the silky smooth musicality inherent in Wilkinson's Kingsway recordings. It would be interesting to hear them on SACD or Blu-ray, which more closely approximate analogue.

From the musical standpoint, they represent an ideal cross section of the finest romantic film scores to come out of the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood (c. 1930-60). All have Gerhardt conducting the National Philharmonic (disbanded in the late 1990s), except for the Raksin disc where the composer leads the New Philharmonia, as the Philharmonia was known between 1964 and 1977. Spurred on by their respective conductors, the playing from both of these London-based orchestras is superb, and far superior to the many film score recordings which sound sight-read. All of this at bargain prices make these a must for movie music collectors.

What better way to begin than with the two albums pictured above, featuring Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whom many consider the dean of all Hollywood romantic composers. The Elizabeth and Essex album is named after the 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, and the other CD for the 1940 movie The Sea Hawk (see the newsletter of 9 August 2007). Originally released in 1972-73, much has already been written about both, so rather than going into a detailed discussion, here are some highlights.

The first disc [see track-listing] opens with an overture Korngold concocted for the Hollywood premiere of Private Lives..., based on its cues. Then there's a sampling of buoyant tidbits from The Prince and the Pauper (1937), whose title theme [track-2] would become the basis for the last movement of the violin concerto he'd write in 1945. A gorgeous extract from his first Academy Award® winning score for Anthony Adverse (1936, currently unavailable on disc) follows.

You'll also find a mini-one-movement cello concerto (with soloist Francisco Garbarro) condensed from Deception (1946, see the newsletter of 9 August 2007), and the love theme in Another Dawn (1937, currently unavailable on disc). Erich would later use the latter as the main idea for the first movement of that violin concerto mentioned above.

The other CD [see track-listing], actually the first in the series (1972), starts with swashbuckling remembrances of The Sea Hawk (1940, see the newsletter of 9 August 2007). Other high points include a gorgeous melody for strings from Of Human Bondage (1945), and two roguish cues found in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which won Korngold the second of his two Academy Awards®.

There's also the main title from Kings Row (1941), probably Korngold's best-known melody, as well as the tiny tone-poem-cantata "Tomorrow" for contralto, chorus and orchestra (with soloist Norma Procter and the Ambrosian Singers) milked from The Constant Nymph (1943, currently unavailable on disc). A CD which opened with music from a piratic film starring Errol Flynn (1909-1959), wouldn't be complete without something (in this case the overture) from Captain Blood (1935), where he first hoisted the Jolly Roger.

He would also star in Escape Me Never (1945, currently unavailable on disc), but as a struggling composer. This gave Korngold another chance to unleash more of his lush Viennese melodies, and a suite from it ends this release in rapturous exuberance.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110328, Y110327)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com hbdirect.com
ArkivMusic.com hbdirect.com


The album cover may not always appear. The album cover may not always appear. The album cover may not always appear.
Herrmann, B.: Citizen Kane (w excs fm 4 other films);
Gerhardt/Na PO [RCA]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Newman, Alf.: Captain from... (w 20th C Fox Fanf & exc fm 9 other films);
Gerhardt/Na PO [RCA]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Raksin: Laura (w excs fm 2 other films);
Raksin/NewPa [RCA]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Sony Music's rerelease of "Classic Film Scores" originally on RCA continues with the three albums pictured above. For general remarks about the series, see the preceding Korngold recommendations. A summary of highlights to be found on these new additions follows.

Unlike Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1928-1987), who was born and trained in Central Europe before coming to America, the three composers represented on these CDs all hailed from the U.S. The film scores of Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) are sampled on the first [see track-listing], which gets off to a horrendous start with the galloping "Death Hunt" from On Dangerous Ground (1951). Calling for an enormous brass section with eight horns plus a massive battery of percussion, it’s a sound system colonic!

Then there are selections from Citizen Kane (1941, see the newsletter of 12 April 2010), including Herrmann's "Salammbô" aria for soprano. In the movie it's sung by Kane's Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) of a would-be diva wife. But on this disc it's given a stunning performance by silver-throated Kiri Te Kanawa, who's everything Kane fooled himself into believing his spouse was.

Concertante passages abound in the music for Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), as well as "Concerto Macabre" for piano and orchestra (with soloist Joaquin Achúcarro) from Hangover Square (1945, see the newsletter of 12 April 2010). Believe it or not, the former film score calls for nine harps, which are soon awash with liquid glissandi.

And last but not least there's a sampling of cues from White Witch Doctor (1953, currently unavailable on disc). Set in Africa, its scoring includes a huge percussion section with everything but the kitchen sink! This allows engineer Kenneth Wilkinson (see the Korngold recommendations above) to engage in some channel-to-channel ping-pong ball effects so popular in the early days of stereo. You'll also hear bits of that flatulent brass monster music (played on a serpent) [track-11, beginning at 00:03] Herrmann loved to write. It all makes for a disc that’s a sonic tour de force if there ever was one!

Music for the silver screen by Alfred Newman (1900-1970, see the newsletter of 9 August 2007) is the subject of the next CD [see track-listing]. And what better way to start than with his renowned 20th Century-Fox fanfare (1933) with its 1953 CinemaScope® extension. It's immediately followed by a jazzy mélange from How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), which has a slinky infectious number that remains one of his best-loved melodies.

Other highlights include the stirring macho "Conquest" march from Captain from Castille (1947) done in its original version for orchestra plus full military band. In this case it's the Band of the Grenadier Guards, who along with their symphonic colleagues add up to 128 musicians.

A suite based on The Robe (1953), which was the very first CinemaScope® production, fills out the disc. It begins with some heavenly music made all the more angelic by the addition of a chorus (The Ambrosian Singers), and tinged with hints of the East. Another massive Newman march, requiring further assistance from the Grenadier Guards, follows. More imperious than the one above, it's associated with the deranged Emperor Caligula (A. D. 12-41). Then, like most Hollywood Biblical epics, the chorus and orchestra end this medley in a state of religious ecstasy.

Composer David Raksin (1912-2004) is in the spotlight for the third disc [see track-listing], which opens with the main theme from Laura (1944). It exudes a captivating insouciance that would make it one of the most popular romantic melodies to come out of Hollywood. Lyricist Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) later set it to words, creating a song which reputedly became the favorite of Cole Porter (1891-1964), see the newsletter of 10 March 2011) as well as Frank Sinatra (1915-1998).

Montages from The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Forever Amber (1947, currently unavailable on disc) complete this release. The elegantly written fleet-footed "The Quickies and the Sneak Preview" section in the former [track-4] is on a par with the best classical symphonic scherzos. While "Whitefriars" in the latter [track-8] borrows from the passacaglia just like Brahms (1833-1897) did in the last movement of his fourth symphony (1884-85). They show Raksin could write music with a degree of sophisticated equal to the concert hall works of colleagues Korngold and Herrmann.

Like the previous two releases in this series, the performances and recorded sound on these three CDs is stunning! Please see the Korngold recommendations above for details.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y110326, Y110325, Y110324)

- AVAILABILITY -
ArkivMusic.com hbdirect.com
ArkivMusic.com hbdirect.com
ArkivMusic.com


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