Archive Collection: The Wizard of Oz - Deluxe EditionWaterTower Music
Released: October 16, 2015
Format: Digital (135 min)
Ben-HurRhino Movie Music (R2 72197)
Format: CD (148 min)
King of KingsRhino Movie Music (R2 78348)
Format: CD (134 min)
Review: Lion's Roar: Classic MGM Film Scores 1935-1965, The
4 / 5 Stars
For those folks "in the know", youll recognize many of the composers whos works appear on these discs, including Bernard Herrman, Alex North, David Raksin, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, and Elmer Bernstein. Most of the previous composers here are represented by some of their classic works, but a few, like Jerry Goldsmith, Maurice Jarre, Lalo Schifrin and Johnny Mandel have some of their earliest work represented before they became the masters we know them by today.
As it is with composers, the two discs offer a rather mixed bag of musical styles and themes, some more famous than others, some seeing their very first time on any recording medium out side of the original film. As I mentioned earlier, I have a few favorites, most of which are ones Ive seen and would be willing to see again and again. One of my favorite films out of those selections is Bad Day At Black Rock, where Spencer Tracy plays a serious "bad-ass" who comes to a small western town after WWII thats trying to cover up the disappearance of a Japanese-American resident. The film is great, and the score by, at that time, newcomer Andre Previn, fits perfectly with the film, and as a selection here, is a nice piece unto its own. Another one of my favorites is the score to the classic David Lean film, Dr. Zhivago, this time penned and conducted by Maurice Jarre, and its end title which wraps up many of the themes introduced in the film, including its most famous, "Laras Theme." Im always a sucker for David Lean films, in fact Lawrence Of Arabia is my all time favorite, I just wonder when its score will receive the same treatment Dr. Zhivago received a few years back by Rhino.
Some other notable pieces on this recording are Miklos Rozsas Ivanhoe, King Of Kings, and the other religious epic Ben-Hur, as well as both treatments of Mutiny On The Bounty by Herbert Stothart (1935) and Bronislau Kaper (1962). Another personal favorites for one amazing "Main Title" theme goes to Alfred Newmans How The West Was Won, which has the greatest and most complex percussion work I have ever heard.
One of the only complaints I do have about the collection is the inconsistent sound quality, but in the liner notes, most is explained away by mentioning that most source materials were not in the greatest of conditions. The liner notes are quite copious in their amount and detailing of the history of the MGM music department during the period of 1935-1965, back when studios actually had a real music department rather than freelance composers like today. This would be a good introductory purchase to any new film music listener trying to get a feel for the roots of film scoring, as for any established listener who got hooked on "the new stuff" but also needs to get rooted in the past. It would nice to see some of these more standout pieces eventually be accompanied by full score albums in the near future, but most likely thats some wishful thinking, but sometimes your wishes may be granted, and this is a good start!