The release of this album almost coinciding with the release on Naxos of music for The Adventures of Mark Twain (Naxos 8.557470) allows an interesting comparison between the music of Steiner and the Shermans.
This new Varese Sarabande album opens with the Tom Sawyer (Warner-7Arts, 1973) Overture and Main Title music that is not only exuberant, sparkling and full of youthful high spirits but also a sweet nostalgic tribute to the way of life along the Mississippi, evoking wide river vistas and utilising harmonica solos for colour. The songs, not especially memorable, except for 'River Song' (the Tom Sawyer theme) are agreeable, upbeat and often quite amusing. 'How come?' has a cosy sentimental charm, and 'Freebootin' has an engaging upbeat defiance with the harmonica strident.
That lovely character actress, Celeste Holm as Tom's Aunt Polly has the most appealing song - a long-suffering but fond 'Soliloquy'. The music director for the film was John Williams, who was replaced by the relatively inexperienced Fred Werner for the sequel Huckleberry Finn, a year later.
The mood of this film's inferior music treads similar paths but the style is sometimes more modern 'pop' in outlook. For instance the sentiments of 'Someday, Honey Darlin' inhabit an adult world far away from Huck's. 'Cairo, Illinois' and 'Royalty', however, recapture youthful exuberance and the comic, and cosy sentimentality oozes from 'A Rose in a Bible'.
A quaint souvenir of two musicals based on Mark Twain characters.