Charles Gerhardt / National Philharmonic Orchestra

Captain from Castile: The Classic Film Scores of Alfred Newman

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If there is any Hollywood composer particularly suited to the approach taken by conductor Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra in their Classic Film Scores series of albums of re-recordings of excerpts from movie background music, it may be Alfred Newman. The series, which also includes albums devoted to Newman contemporaries Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Max Steiner, and Dimitri Tiomkin, favors bold, memorable themes, and that's what Newman was known for in a lengthy career (also including conducting and running the 20th Century Fox music department) that lasted nearly 40 years. Newman could be ingenious in adapting his main theme for the various moods of an overall picture after showcasing it up front in a film like Anastasia or Airport (both of which are represented here by their "Main Title" music). The album starts with his celebrated 20th Century Fox fanfare, heard at the start of all the studio's films, and goes right into one of his earliest efforts, 1931's "Street Scene." Airport, on the other hand, came right at the end, in fact, just after the end, of his life in 1970. In between are heard such Oscar-worthy works as Captain from Castile and The Robe, as well as the Oscar winner The Song of Bernadette. The only thing wrong with the album is that there isn't enough of it. Newman wrote so much more, and leaving out, just to cite two examples, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (another Oscar recipient) and How the West Was Won, makes the album seem only the briefest of samplings of a large body of work.

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