April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Music for the Films of Marlon Brando  
Music composed by Various Artists
Conducted by Nic Raines and Paul Bateman
Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
  Available on Silva Screen (SILCD 1166)
Running Times:
[Disc 1]: 56:12
[Disc 2]: 50:28
Amazon UK   Amazon US

Contains music from:
The Godfather (1972)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Sayonara (1957)
The Wild One (1953)
The Missouri Breaks (1976)
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
The Chase (1966)
The Young Lions (1958)
Superman (1978)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
Juilius Caesar (1953)
Viva Zappata (1952)
One Eyed Jacks (1961)
The Men (1950)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
On the Waterfront (1954)

Silva has used an actor or director as a common thread for a compilation CDs on several occasions. Names such as Stanley Kubrick, Clint Eastwood, and now Marlon Brando have been featured. The Marlon Brando two CD set has the distinct advantage of being able to offer a vast range of different genre films. The films chosen for this set include not only the blockbusters such as The Godfather, and On The Waterfront, but lesser known Missouri Breaks and One-Eyed Jacks, films that can offer the listener an opportunity to hear an unfamiliar John Williams or Hugo Friedhofer theme. This is the strength of a compilation CD: a blend of highlights from released and unreleased material. Among the latter: The Men, One-Eyed Jacks, and The Wild One have yet to be given official releases and other than a short suite such as this compilation there is nothing available. (Please note - these are ‘official’ releases.) The Young Lions to my knowledge is an out-of-print Varese Sarabande release that could also prove a challenge to find.

The playing order of the CD makes no sense to me other than beginning with The Godfather. Why separate the other two Godfather selections by 11 tracks? Offering the selections in a chronological order starting with the earliest year (1950) would have made more sense. However, this release is designed more for a Barnes and Noble shopper than a soundtrack collector, so sequencing to spur on an impulse purchase is likely to have played a role in the current track listing. Silva offers very reasonable values in the marketplace and the person attracted to this will see the Marlon Brando name, pick it up see Sayonara as an example, quickly relive a pleasant memory and decide to put it on top of the book they are going to purchase.

This web site being more devoted to the soundtrack collector poses a more interesting set of issues. For one, there is no mention of location and when the recording was made. This if nothing else is often a useful way to determine if any of the selections here were included on other compilations performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic, Silva having offered so many in the past. However, the identity of the orchestrators is valuable information included by Silva. Did North actually create a Streetcar Named Desire Suite, as is sometimes the case with classically-inclined composers? (In this case, no. It was done by Mark McGurty.) The notes also include conductor information, and this is useful to the collector. (One perhaps could prefer Raines or Bateman as an example.) The liner notes carry the essentials. They give a nice balance of film (though less adjectives and more meat and potatoes would have been nice), Brando, and a little about the music itself.

The music itself is somewhat difficult to record, between a rock-and-a-hard-place on some of the selections. Last Tango In Paris, A Streetcar Named Desire, and On The Waterfront would have certainly benefited from a "jazz oriented" saxophonist. However, with costs being what they are today, that was likely considered, and dismissed. However, as an example if you have ever listened to the original soundtrack by Gato Barbieri, one should keep in mind that Gato was quite an accomplished saxophone player and thus the OST is far superior. The same can be said about On the Waterfront. This is a combination of jazz and classical and it’s difficult in re-recordings for an orchestra to serve both masters. (Jazz musicians are not comfortable in a classical situation either!) While the City of Prague Philharmonic gives it the good old college try, the Street Car Named Desire Suite lacks the correct tempo, brilliance, and harshness that the original has to offer. Had Rozsa's Julius Caesar not been known to me, one could hardly tell he wrote it! Having said that, One-Eyed Jacks, The Men, The Missouri Breaks and The Chase are all performed well. I can’t help but have mixed feelings about the disc as a whole.

In conclusion, what does one do? If you want an introduction to unknown material, purchase this bargain without hesitation. (And it is a bargain, with two CDs for the price of one – the consumer is getting a good deal here.) The more seasoned collector should pass.

Tom Kiefner

Rating: 2.5

Track Listing:

  1. The Godfather – Waltz
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire – Suite
  3. Sayonara – Prelude
  4. Sayonara – Katsumi’s Love
  5. Sayonara – Street Fight
  6. Sayonara – Elegy & Finale
  7. The Wild One – Main & End Titles
  8. The Missouri Breaks – Love Theme
  9. Last Tango In Paris
  10. The Chase
  11. The Young Lions – Main Title
  12. Superman – Main Theme
  13. The Godfather – Sicilian Pastorale
  14. The Godfather – Love Theme
  15. Mutiny On The Bounty – Overture
  16. Julius Caesar – Caesar Now Be Still
  17. Viva Zapata – A Gathering Of Forces
  18. One-Eyed Jacks – Main Title
  19. The Men – Suite
  20. Apocalypse Now – The Ride Of The Valkyries
  21. On The Waterfront – Suite from the film

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