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Victor YOUNG (1900-1956)
The Greatest Show on Earth - Prelude (March) (1952) [2:16]
The Uninvited - Suite (1944) [24:10]
Gulliver's Travels - Suite (1939) [16:38]
Bright Leaf - Suite (1950) [26:20]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/William Stromberg
rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, Russia, April 1997
NAXOS FILM MUSIC CLASSICS 8.573368 [69:31]

This CD was previously released as "The Classic Film Music of Victor Young" by Marco Polo in 1997 (Marco Polo 8.225063). It was reviewed in 1999 by MusicWeb International's Jeffrey Wheeler and Ian Lace. The disc now reappears as part of the "Naxos Film Music Classics" series.

Victor Young was born in Chicago in 1900, and at the age of ten was sent to live in Poland with his grandfather. During his early years Victor studied the violin and the piano. While playing violin at a concert in Warsaw, his virtuosity gained the attention of Czar Nicholas of Russia, and the young musician soon became a favourite of the Russian emperor. When the Bolsheviks seized power, Young was captured and thrown into prison with a death sentence. He escaped and fled across Europe. In the midst of World War I he found his way to England, and in 1920 back home to Chicago. After his return, Young joined Chicago’s burgeoning music industry and played violin there for the Central Park Casino Orchestra. He soon became a conductor and arranger for radio, theater and silent films. Young moved to Hollywood in the 1930s, where he composed and arranged music for the radio, film and television industries. Along the way he wrote over 300 film scores and received 22 Academy Award nominations before he died in 1956. His only Oscar win was a posthumous award that year for Best Music Score for Around the World in 80 Days.

The opening number on this disc is the Prelude circus march from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 film, The Greatest Show On Earth, with a 28 piece brass-band performing at a vigorous pace, and a six piece percussion ensemble keeping steady time. Two piccolos can clearly be heard floating overhead. The second chorus of the prelude sounds much like the melody of You’ve Got To Be A Football Hero, another catchy march from the 1930s. For the 1944 movie The Uninvited, a ghost story starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, Young composed a suite of music from which the classic tune Stella By Starlight was born. This song is the over-riding theme through-out this suite, appearing several times. John Morgan performed a masterful job reconstructing the arrangements from the original score using the authentic orchestral specifications, including strings and two harps. Morgan provided another fine reconstruction for Victor Young’s score for the 1939 animated film Gulliver’s Travels. A highlight from this suite is the beautiful Faithful & Forever theme, written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, who wrote most of the songs for the film. The Moscow Symphony Chorus performs during the Finale, and although the diction is a bit garbled, their spirit is clearly unmistakable. Young wrote an interesting score for the 1950 Warner Brothers film Bright Leaf, starring Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall and Patricia Neal, about a rivalry between two tobacco barons during the 1890s. Leo Shuken and Sidney Cutner created eight orchestrations for this suite. Two numbers that stand out are Machine Montage, a delightful theme composed with a fast-paced rhythm led by trumpets, horns and clarinets to accompany a cigarette-making machine in action. Then there's Tobacco Montage, an equally fast-paced number, highlighted by the horns, string, and percussion sections, to accompany scenes in the movie of a growing tobacco empire.

This CD will be enjoyed by all Victor Young fans and listeners who enjoy classic film scores. Unfortunately, movie music by itself is not always satisfying, since the visual context is missing. However, the orchestrations are beautiful and the sound quality of this disc is good overall. A 12-page booklet with liner-notes by Bill Whitaker and John Morgan is included.

Bruce McCollum

Previous review: Nick Barnard

Track-Listing

The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)
Orchestrations: George Parrish
1. Prelude (March) [2:16]
The Uninvited (1944) [24:10]
Reconstructions: John Morgan
2. Prelude [1:36]
3. Squirrel Chase [1:24]
4. The Village [0:46]
5. The Sobbing Ghost [4:22]
6. Sunday Morning - Stella’s Emotions [3:07]
7. The Cliff [2:35]
8. Grandfather and the Cliff [4:41]
9. End of Ghost - Finale [5:33]
Gulliver’s Travels (1939) [16:38]
Reconstructions: John Morgan
10. Prelude - The Scroll and the Storm [3:57]
11. Pussyfoot March [0:45]
12. Giant In Tow [1:34]
13. Gabby and the King - The Tower - The Archers [7:19]
14. Finale [3:01]
Bright Leaf (1950) [26:20]
Orchestrations: Leo Shuken and Sidney Cutner
15. Prelude-Welcome to Kingsmont [6:04]
16. Sonia [1:41]
17. Machine Montage [2:26]
18. Margaret [3:29]
19. Tobacco Montage [1:18]
20. Suicide [1:43]
21. Sonia and The Wedding [3:08]
22. Southern Vengeance - The Fire –Finale [6:29]

 

 




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