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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbound gets the title but Red House is the find, June 29, 2011
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This review is from: Spellbound: The Classic Film Scores of Miklos Rozsa (Audio CD)
Charles Gerhardt, the London-based National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers recorded this pallette of film music from Miklos Rosza (1907-95) way back in 1974; it was released the following year on the RCA label as part of the same collaboration it has been released on CD -- The Classic Film Scores series. Others in the series include Lost Horizon: The Classic Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin and The Sea Hawk: The Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

In this collection of Rozsa's popular scores, the dream sequence from Spellbound gets the title but it is the five-part suite from Edward G. Robinson's 1948 horror film The Red House that will be the find for most Rozsa fans. The composer's original score was released on Film Scores of Miklos Rozsa, originating from either an older LP or possibly a 78 and transferred, fairly well, to CD. This version by Gerhardt, while it may lack the composer's drive and verve, is far better recorded and uses a better orchestra than the pickup band Rosza had at hand for the original score.

If you've never seen the film, the horror angle wasn't played up in the postwar era like movies are today; it was more psychological horror about a farmer with bad intentions. The film still packs a punch in 2011 as the IMDb 7 rating shows. The music definitely packs a punch and the five parts provide a sequence of musical events that help you identify with the events and moments of the film.

While I have given this splendid recording five stars, I was disappointed in the contents after hearing the Red House excerpts. Certainly none are bad and all are done to the hilt by Gerhardt, the orchestra and singers. However, after hearing the score from The Red House, the individual selections from other films seem to me to be odd parts, the sum of which don't quite add up to its total.

If everything in the package had been like the three selections from 1945's The Lost Weekend -- the Ray Milland and Jane Wyman classic about alcoholism -- I'd have liked this collection a lot more. Instead, the other seven selections are take from seven different films. It's rather like having a CD of Haydn with two symphonies and seven overtures.

The performances are all splendid and the single film selections are all worthwhile. One has to go on for 12 tracks until the typical Rozsa drama lets up, when the Scherzo from Knights of the Round Table makes an appearance in zippy action fashion and breaks the dramatic mould. Thereafter, the music makes more of a 360 degree circle emotionally before going to the triumphant overture to Ivanhoe that closes the loop and the 15 tracks on this 54 minute collection.

Many still believe analog recordings were better than digital and the digitzed analog (ADD) really sounds great with stunning timpani beats, warm brass, a deep and wide soundstage and a great orchestra following Gerhardt, who scrupulously follows Rozsa's markings and tempos. Many other conductors underplay the composer's powerhouse music but not Gerhardt; he and Rozsa are universally one in their outlook and execution.

While this 1975 redux constitutes more a sampler than a vintage collection of Rozsa's scores, it makes a good introduction to anyone new to the composer and a nostalgic document for people that have followed the composer for years, with outstanding notes and packaging completing the enterprise.
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Spellbound: The Classic Film Scores of Miklos Rozsa
Spellbound: The Classic Film Scores of Miklos Rozsa by Charles Gerhardt (Audio CD - 2011)
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