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Soundtrack Review

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Play it Again
The Classic Sound of Hollywood


Composers: various
Performed by: various
Label: Masterworks
RRP: £13.99
8 884303 86020
Release Date: 31 March 2014

Now, here’s a strange thing I never understood, orchestra’s releasing albums of classics, in this case soundtracks from movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a good rousing tune, but the odd thing is that the music would have been performed by a professional orchestra and is, decades later, being performed by a different professional orchestra. As a fan, what I want to hear is the music as I remembered it. So why don’t I just buy the original soundtrack? It’s not like they are going to reimagine the tracks with spoons and banjo.

Play it Again: The Classic Sound of Hollywood, in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies aims to provide you with not just another rendition of old favourites, but the actual original recordings, beautifully remastered. Now, doesn’t that sound better? No reinterpretation, no peculiarities from a different orchestra. Here you will find the original movies soundtrack music, just better than you remember it.

This, of course means that no single orchestra provides the music for this album, although this is not completely true. The music is presented on a two disc set, the first of which consist of rare recordings made in the 1970’s by conductor, Charles Gerhardt and London's National Philharmonic Orchestra. They cover a range of pieces, including Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Of Human Bondage and The Sea Hawk as well as the music from the original Thing. Persons of a certain age might remember the music from Peyton Place, the first show I ever saw in colour and 'The Dance of the Seven Veils' from Salome. The greater majority of the first disc is made up from Korngold's work and it sound superb.

Disc two and we move away from a single reinterpretation of established work and dive headlong into the original recordings. Here TCM confirms its commitment to preserving classic movies by presenting music from Lawrence of Arabia, the beautifully delicate music from Breakfast at Tiffany’s as well as the more atmospheric music from King Kong, which would not have sounded out of place in Holst’s The Planets suite.

The main determination of the tracks chosen appears to be those with the most artistic merit and as such it takes in the whole history of cinema, from Close Encounters to Ben Hur, by way of Doctor Zhivago.

Overall, it’s a nice collection which covers the first seventy, or so years, of film music, although I suspect that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is a re-recording, I’m pretty sure that had "Ho-Ha’s" all the way through the music.

At times the music is rousing at other times heartfelt, but always it shows the best of what Hollywood orchestras could achieve with a good score. Well worth a look for the serious movie audiophile.


Charles Packer

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