The future of reissues began to shift this past year as more 1980s and 1990s scores began to find their way into expanded editions. Though there was a monumental box set of Bernard Herrmann's music, the centenary year was practically quiet for this great composer. Admittedly, many of Herrmann's scores had made it to CD through the last 10-15 years.
The generation that "discovered" orchestral film music in the 1970s is aging and giving way to those who were attracted to the electronic experiments of the 1980s and there were plenty of those scores finding releases. In the meantime, some fascinating much earlier film music found its way to disc and some of these are among my choices this year.
The oldest of these is Gottfried Huppertz fascinating score for Lang’s Metropolis (1927) in a fully-restored and lovingly performed release on Capriccio. (This is a fitting companion for The Artist!) The music is filled with a fascinating blend of modernism, Romanticism, and is a great window on the styles of music popular at the time of the film’s release. The release of a 1926 score for Carmen by Ernesto Halffter on Naxos is also a great example of early original film scoring. It was quite a surprise to get two such treasures in a single year. We jump up into the 1950s for my other three picks (arguably outside of traditional “Golden Age” borders). Hands down, my favorite release from this period was Kritzerland’s The Pride and the Passion coupled with Kings Go Forth. The former score is by George Antheil, woefully underrepresented on disc, the latter by Elmer Bernstein. It is Antheil’s score which impresses the most and is worth tracking down in this limited edition. Many were the times as a child we spent with the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney and it was here where my next pick created a lasting impression. Paul J. Smith is not a name one may ever hear, but he worked at the Disney studios crafting fine music and arrangements. Intrada’s new arrangement with Disney allowed the release of his wonderful score for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For many film music fans, or lover’s of this great film, the release will be quite welcome.
Best Golden Age Releases of 2011
Carmen – Ernesto Halffter (Naxos)
IT! The terror from beyond space – Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter (Monstrous Movie Music)
METROPOLIS – Gottfried Huppertz (Capriccio)
The pride and the passion/kings go forth – George Antheil/Elmer Bernstein (Kritzerland)
20,000 Leagues under the sea – Paul J. Smith (Disney/Intrada)
When it comes to music from 1960s and on, it is obvious that the availability of 1980s film music has caused many of these modern classic scores to find their way to disc. The big surprise of the year was part of the Disney/Intrada partnership and brought John Barry’s oft-requested music for The Black Hole to disc finally. Perseverance also managed to get another science fiction score to disc in Elmer Bernstein’s fascinating music for Slipstream. Film Score Monthly, while announcing that they would be exiting the CD production business, managed many fine releases of which Ennio Morricone’s superb score for an early Malick film Days of Heaven has to be one of their finest releases. Tadlow’s re-recordings (also on the Prometheus label) brought to disc a fabulous performance of Franz Waxman’s Taras Bulba and music from the Conan universe by Basil Poledouris, of which Conan the Destroyer is perhaps the most surprising of the two with its added suite of music for the second disc. A late entry for me just arrived this week in Intrada's fabulous recording of Goldsmith's The Sand Pebbles. One of the master's first big scoring moments in stunning sound.
In 2012’s reminiscence of the year, we may have to come up with a new category as labels begin rolling out expanded versions of scores from the 1990s. La-La Land surely hit its stride with a number of phenomenal releases of which Goldsmith’s complete score for First Knight was one of the best. Varese’s Club releases focused much on later music and their expanded release of Marco Beltrami’s superb score for Mimic will increase appreciation for the one score that perked up the ears of film music fans.
Best Silver/Bronze Age Releases of 2011
The Black Hole – John Barry (Disney/Intrada)
CONAN THE DESTROYER – BASIL POLEDOURIS (Prometheus)
Days of heaven – Ennio Morricone (FSM)
First Knight – Jerry Goldsmith (La-La Land)
Mimic – Marco Beltrami (Varese Sarabande Club)
The Sand Pebbles – Jerry Goldsmith (Intrada)
Slipstream – Elmer Bernstein (Perseverance)
Taras Bulba – Franz Waxman (Tadlow)