The Daniele Amfitheatrof Project is an album of music representing various facets of the late film composer's work, as both a conductor and a composer for the concert hall as well as the screen. Although it tries to emphasize the Russian-born, Italian-established Amfitheatrof's pre-Hollywood credentials as both a conductor and composer, there's no question that this CD would not exist but for the man's movie work. Based on the evidence here, he was, at best, a highly skilled conductor and a moderately talented composer for the concert hall. Opening with a spirited rendition of Prince Igor Overture by Borodin, from a 1939 Parlophone release, the disc moves on to a 1935 concert work by Amfitheatrof called American Panorama -- dating from prior to his first visit to the United States -- that created a serious splash in composing circles in the mid-'30s, and even got into the repertoire of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; it features quotes from several traditional and 19th century popular songs in a dramatic fashion, but it's not the most memorable work in this vein by a long shot. The main body of the CD is given over to his music for the 1947 MGM historical thriller The Beginning or the End, dealing with the development of the atomic bomb -- it features some unusual combinations of instruments, including electric organ, bass, and violin, for the scoring of the scenes at the Columbia University laboratory reactor, in addition to the expected full orchestra. Alas, the transfer off of 1946-vintage 78s limits the fidelity and one's ability to fully appreciate the music, especially in the louder sections of the score, but it does show where the man's greatest musical strengths -- his disdain for Hollywood aside -- resided.
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