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Man of Galilee, soundtracks by Alfred Newman on double CD

Alfred Newman - Man of Galilee CD soundtrack cover Alfred Newman is known as one of of the most influential men in the world of film music. People often point to his long-standing role as head of the Fox Music Department, where he introduced many great film composers to the world. They also note that, frequently acting as music director, supervisor and/or conductor, he oversaw all the great musicals produced by the studio during that era (including "The King and I", "Carousel" and "South Pacific" to name only a few). People also point out that his talents run in the family because his brothers, sons and other relatives all have similar professions in the film music industry. Amid all these achievements it is often overlooked that Alfred Newman was himself an accomplished film composer, frequently but not exclusively using the late romantic style employed by the early film composers. The purpose of this double CD is to illustrate the breadth of his compositional work.

The title "Man of Galilee" comes from a Cantata arranged by Newman's friend and frequent collaborator Ken Darby, who also supplied original lyrics to music from Newman's scores to "The Robe" and "The Greatest Story ever Told". The Cantata is described as a Symphonic Cantata for Contralto, Baritone, Large Choir and Orchestra. Its 6 movements are included on the second album, and together with his music for "The Song of Bernadette" suggest that Newman held profound religious convictions which seems to belie his image as a shrewd business man who daily took decisions to hire and fire employees. Fittingly a suite of music from "How the West was Won" is also included, since Darby was a co-composer of some of this instantly recognisable music. Among other films represented are "The Diary of Anne Frank", "Wuthering Heights", "The Mark of Zorro" and the first album is introduced by twenty seconds of the iconic "20th Century Fox Fanfare" also composed by Newman.

This album could have included some original recordings, but since sound recording technology improved significantly during the almost three decades of work covered, the resultant mix would have been inconsistent in quality. Silva Screen Records have therefore wisely chosen to have all the works rec-recorded by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Bateman and Nic Raine, and with the Crouch End Festival Chorus where voices are required. All these parties are experienced in the recreation of classic film soundtracks, and this double album is another achievement to their credit. The resulting rich selection of music ably demonstrates the compositional skills of one of the greatest figures in the history of film music. It can be found on in the UK or in the US.

Track listing - CD1:

  • 20th Century Fox Fanfare - needs no introduction!
  • How to Marry a Millionaire - Jazzy in a Gershwin way
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, Suite
    • Overture - introductory titles to suggest "telling a story", initially a romantic one
    • Live in Hope - light and romantic for a hollywood version of a young girl's tale
    • The First Kiss - a delicate waltz
    • Persecution/Finale - this final track of the suite turns darker in tone, before concluding in the suite's original mood
  • The Mark of Zorro - a jaunty theme for this swashbuckling movie, very much in the Korngold mold, with a Spanish/Mexican love theme in the middle, and with the humour of Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel
  • Anastasia - the music suggesting a complex character-based drama
  • Song of Bernadette - the romantic style is not simplistic in orchestration, but the result is a portrait of innocence
  • How the West was Won -
    • Prelude/The Land - the rousing main theme is earthy yet wholesome and includes the familiar melody for "The Eerie Canal"
    • Cleve and His Mule - the animal suggested by the now traditional accented offbeats
    • Intermezzo - a moment of quiet lyricism with a few blues notes
    • Cheyenne Attack and Aftermath/Finale - starting on a solo drum, and building to powerful dramatic action
    • How the West was Won - choral setting of the main theme "I'm bound for the promised land"

Track listing - CD2:

  • Captain from Castile - initial fanfares and then some spirited martial music again similar in style to Korngold
  • The Keys of the Kingdom - the overture starts in romantic fashion becoming quite intense
  • Nevada Smith - western music complete with a section for solo harmonica
  • The Razors Edge -
    • Main Title - dominated by strings
    • Seduction - a heady love theme on flute
    • India - portraying a quiet stoicism
  • Wuthering Heights - romantic strings playing Cathy's heart-melting theme
  • Man of Galilee - think of Handel's Messiah in a modern idiom, consisting of:
    • Prologue - a short bright fanfare for brass and strings
    • The Promise of the Holy Spirit - sustained atmospherics with echoes of the opening fanfare, moving into an oboe melody picked up by other instruments and then the choir
    • Rejoice - almost cringingly classical/religious, and then turning into Christmas
    • The Great Journey - operatic recitative leading to an adagio reminiscent of Samuel Barber's for strings
    • Miriam's Song - a solo voice with light accompaniment
    • Sunrise of the Third Day - orchestral introduction followed by an Halleluia Chorus