Alex North's 2001: The Legendary Original Score

Jerry Goldsmith / National Philharmonic Orchestra

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Alex North's 2001: The Legendary Original Score Review

by Steven McDonald

During the course of editing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick hired composer Alex North to write a score for the film, guided, to a degree, by the temporary tracks Kubrick was using. North dutifully went to work, Kubrick provided him with notes and points of revision, and North, in time, completed and recorded the score. After which, he waited. From Kubrick's end there was silence. When the premiere date came, North was shocked to discover that his score had been discarded -- Kubrick had, instead, used the temporary tracks. North buried the score, and the original recordings vanished. In the early '90s, when the idea to produce a series of re-recordings of classic scores came up at Varese Sarabande, North's score for Spartacus was included, prompting Jerry Goldsmith to suggest that North's discarded score for 2001 be resurrected. North was amenable by this time, and the score was recorded in London in early 1993, with Goldsmith conducting. The score is beautifully performed and recorded, with impressive tonal transparency and excellent bass. Unfortunately, the music itself is somewhat of an artifact, a product of its time. Where Kubrick strove for the impression of the mundane within his visual framework, North interjected repeated ethereal and otherworldly elements that would be distracting; in other instances, where Kubrick chose a minimalist route, North was priming the pump with suspense music. While this score is enjoyable to listen to, it is fairly obvious why Kubrick chose not to use it -- and chose wisely.

blue highlight denotes track pick