Man of Galilee: The Essential Alfred Newman Film Music Collection

Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

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Man of Galilee: The Essential Alfred Newman Film Music Collection Review

by William Ruhlmann

Although Alfred Newman was best known, and was most comfortable, as a musical director and conductor, he also found time during his 40-year Hollywood career to score in excess of 150 films, and this collection of newly made recordings from some of them demonstrates his versatility. Beginning with the fanfare that is still used to introduce 20th Century Fox films, it leads into a jazzy, melodic excerpt from the 1953 comedy How to Marry a Millionaire that is actually a revised version of the music from Newman's first score, for 1931's Street Scene. This leads into a suite of lush, lyrical cues from The Diary of Anne Frank, followed by the stirring, adventurous music of The Mark of Zorro, and so on. Newman is less interested in imposing his own style on the films than he is in supporting their themes. The first disc ends with an extended suite from How the West Was Won, one of the composer's lengthier scores and one that attempted to take in not only a broad subject matter but also a panoramic new wide-screen film process, and did so with a thrilling theme. Equally diverse, the second disc is dominated by a title not found in the Newman filmography, "Man of Galilee." This turns out to be a cantata running more than half an hour adapted by sometime Newman collaborator Ken Darby from music for the religious films The Robe and The Greatest Story Ever Told. Darby, best known as a vocal arranger, adds lyrics and a chorus to tell the story of Christ in miniature. One might object that this world-premiere recording of an adaptation done after Newman's death does not represent his work or his intentions precisely, but enough of his style survives to make it a worthwhile piece of music.

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