Franz Waxman's original soundtrack for Peyton Place has held up remarkably well across 50 years, so much so that it still bears listening, despite a good effort at re-recording (with about five minutes' more music) by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in more recent years. The period in which this movie was made arguably constituted the technical peak of the film soundtrack, as a recorded medium -- movies were going into theaters with stereo sound and larger-than-life fidelity; and the successful introduction of the soundtrack album a decade earlier had made the home-listening edition of these scores a worthwhile-seeming enterprise for all concerned. This soundtrack might not have been too different had it been written and recorded a few years earlier, though it's difficult to imagine that Waxman would have been allowed -- or felt compelled -- to include all of the beautiful wind and reed parts (especially the reed and horn cadenzas), or the extended lush string passages, or even the trumpet stings, in so careful and vivid detail. And had the movies not achieved this high a level of technical sophistication in theaters, it's not likely that Waxman would have spent quite the time, or attended to the same level of detail, that he did in the final shape and content of the music. And it's all here, as realized by the composer himself, on the original album, which has translated stunningly to compact disc. By all means, get the Varese re-recording for its fuller picture of the music, but this is the essential version of the Peyton Place soundtrack, resplendent in rich fidelity and stunning in its Copland-esque passages -- in many ways, the latter outstrip Copland himself in their quiet, understated, folky lyricism, with a playfulness that's equally beguiling; and then there's that central tune that keeps turning up in myriad forms across the score, that is impossible to tire of. It's all so beautiful, and so beautifully played and recorded, that this reviewer found himself wishing he could go back in time and hear it again for the first time.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder
|Peyton Place, film score|