MUSIC FROM CBS WESTERNS

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by Leonard Maltin
December 13, 2009 2:28 AM
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Thank goodness for the Film Music Society and its ongoing efforts to chronicle and celebrate composers from the golden age of Hollywood. Perhaps the least-known work of those musical giants is their television scores, a situation that is remedied in part by this interesting compilation of scores written for Gunsmoke, Rawhide and...

Cimarron Strip in the 1960s by Jerome Moross, Franz Waxman, Hugo Friedhofer and Bernard Herrmann. Lance Bowling and Henry Adams produced the CD, while Jon Burlingame provides a knowledgeable essay in the companion booklet. He also connected the often very brief cues into “suites” that play like unbroken compositions.

These scores may not constitute a major discovery but no music written by these men can be called inconsequential, and it’s all worth listening to. Moross’ music is perhaps the most recognizable, coming just a few years after he wrote what may be the definitive western score, The Big Country, while Herrmann’s music for the Cimarron Strip episode “Knife in the Darkness” is especially notable. As Burlingame notes, “Written entirely for the lowest woodwinds, double basses, harps and timpani, it is filled with growling bassoons and thumping percussion, and may be the most thoroughly evil-sounding western score ever written.” Mastered from original open-reel tapes and acetate recordings in the CBS music library (now housed at UCLA) the sound quality is remarkably good. I, for one, am ready for Volume 2. (This CD is not available commercially; it can only be purchased by members of the Film Music Society. For more information click HERE.(Film Music Society)

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