This is the second set of film themes from Silva Screen Records bearing the name "Cinema Century". You might think that the first set would have chosen the best themes, leaving only the second rate stuff for this sequel. That is a million miles from the truth! Unlike in the movie world, this sequel is excellent and contains some of the most well-known and influential film music there is.
This set follows much the same pattern as the original Cinema Century boxed set, with themes from movies in chronological order from "King Kong" in 1933 through to "The Mask of Zorro" in 1998. Again these are re-recordings mostly by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under various conductors, the versions are either the authentic originals or in some cases a later arrangement, and the themes are either the title track or another memorable track from the movie.
The CDs have some notable music by classical composers. Making a foray into the world of cinema we have the track "Entry into Pskov" with full chorus from the concert version of Alexander Nevsky by Sergei Prokofiev, and two wonderful tracks from movies scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. In addition there are examples where classical music has been used in films rather than specially composed themes, including the opening from Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" as used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and also "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana put to effective use in Excalibur.
An interesting comparison can be made between the original 1940 version of The Mark of Zorro by Alfred Newman and Hugo Friedhofer and the 1998 version called The Mask of Zorro by James Horner. And watch out for Jean de Florette by Jean-Claude Petit. If you're not prepared for it you might do a double-take and recognise it first as the theme from the Stella Artois adverts in the UK. And Nascimbene's theme to The Vikings might also bring a smile. Even though you've probably never witnessed a Viking funeral, this music seems to invoke Norse mythology perfectly.
All in all, there is much to savour in this collection and it comes highly recommended. If you wish to check out the price in some online CD stores, then try Amazon.co.uk in the UK, or Amazon.com in the US.
If you haven't checked it out already, the prequel to this set Cinema Century is equally comprehensive and good value. It might not stretch quite as far as the Police Academy or Nightmare on Elm Street Series, but I can't help thinking that there must be sufficient material in the vaults to fill a couple more sequel boxed sets.