Original TV Soundtrack

Twilight Zone: 40th Anniversary Collection

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The definitive account of the music from the original television series, Twilight Zone: The 40th Anniversary Collection offers four CDs of total immersion into most of the best and most memorable scores written for the five season run of the anthology series. Bernard Herrmann's music dominates the first disc, beginning with both the broadcast (i.e., with Serling's narration) and unedited versions of his dark, brooding main title music, and the 11 minute score for the first episode, "Where Is Everybody". As this was an intriguing but not fully realized program, the music is more inventive and memorable than the program itself -- as with other Herrmann scores, this one shows signs of his having "stolen" from himself, with several passages, between four minutes and 30 seconds and six minutes and 30 seconds, that could have come from his 1941 score for The Devil And Daniel Webster. The balance of the 75-minute first disc is filled up with Herrmann's "Outer Space Suite", an extended body of work written and recorded as "stock" music for CBS by the composer in 1957, which was quoted extensively in the run of this series. The opening prelude offers horn parts and a rhythmic underscore reminiscent of the composer's music for The Day The Earth Stood Still. Also included on this disc is Herrmann's proposed new title theme for the series -- which sound even more in debt to his music for The Day The Earth Stood Still -- which were rejected in favor of a piece by Marius Constant that became the most familiar musical cue associated with the program. Also featured is his music for the episodes "Walking Distance", "The Hitchhiker" and "The Lonely", of which the first is one of the masterpieces of television scoring, a gently nostalgic string-laden piece that was (and is) worthy of a separate life in the concert hall. Disc Two opens with Constant's theme and then gives itself over to Jerry Goldsmith's superb contributions to the show, in a series of suites, written for the episodes "Back There," "The Big Tall Wish," "The Invaders," and "Dust," that are far more energetic than Herrmann's work, if not as subtle -- still, Goldsmith could do more with a musical "sting" than almost any other composer working, which is why so many key parts of these scores were still being used on soundtracks in the 1980's; the most memorable is easily "The Invaders" which, with its rippling piano figure and violently bowed violins, plays like a not-to-distant cousin to Herrmann's music for Psycho. Disc Three showcases the music of Nathan Van Cleave, in suites for "Perchance To Dream," "Elegy," "Two," "I Sing The Body Electric," and "A World Of Difference" -- these are less formalistic than either Herrmann's or Goldsmith's work, and sound much more like conventional film music, eerie and at times moody to the point of being almost frightening. Disc Four's highlights, in addition to another alternate theme (by Constant), include Fred Steiner's sweetly sad scoring for "100 Yards Over The Rim," which could be one of the best realized western-flavored television scores of the period, until it switches gears into a darkly ominous mode that one truly would not want to listen to -- fully exposed as music -- with the lights out; and Steiner's equally impressive (yet more somber) music for "The Passersby"; and Leonard Rosenman's score for "And When The Sky Was Opened," which, with its dissonant horn calls, anticipated elements of his music for Beneath The Planet Of The Apes seven years later. Franz Waxman completists will also want to check out the legendary Hollywood composer's score for "Sixteen Millimeter Shrine," which doesn't sound like anything else ever written for the show -- capturing Waxman at his most sentimental and romantic with its thick orchestral textures and mix of rich melodies and 1920's period scoring, it's closer to a classic film score than anything ever written for the series, or much else from television. The annotation is reasonably thorough as well, and the mastering is excellent, with no signs of serious distortion anywhere and a good, healthy volume level throughout, but it's the music that makes this release a must-own set, and a bargain at $44 list.

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