Alfred Newman Conducts His Classic Motion Picture Scores

Alfred Newman

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Alfred Newman Conducts His Classic Motion Picture Scores Review

by James Leonard

"Alfred Newman worked on over 250 films in his 40-year career, received 45 Academy nominations and won nine Oscars," wrote Tony Thomas in the liner notes of this Citadel re-release. "This CD features music from 'only' 10."

This is a great pity, he might have continued, because Newman's music deserves more than a selection of greatest hits. As his resumé shows, Newman was one of the true greats of the golden age of film music, ranking with Steiner, Waxman, and Herrmann. Recorded between 1947 and 1951 with the composer himself conducting an uncredited studio orchestra, these performances brim with life, energy, and emotional immediacy. Choosing favorites is impossible. The brassy irony of All About Eve, the nostalgic sentimentality of How Green Was My Valley, the rampant romanticism of Wurthering Heights, the witty bounce of Street Scene, the simple faith of The Song of Bernadette, and the blazing excitement of Captain from Castile could be the highlights, but then there's the earnest pathos of Pinky, the insouciant satire A Royal Scandal, the warm-hearted affection of A Letter to Three Wives, and the psychological intensity of The Razor's Edge. The sound, though brilliant in its time and restored to something of its former magnificence in this remastering, is still obviously antique, but the vibrancy of the music and performances more than makes up for the lack of sonic splendor. Anyone who reveres the scores of Steiner, Waxman, and Herrmann and does not know Newman should hear this disc.

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