Tiomkin's Music is Marvelously Evocative of the Old West
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As far as I know, unlike other issues in the current spate of Naxos film score releases, this one of Dimitri Tiomkin's score for 'Red River' had not previously been issued on the Marco Polo label, or if it was I missed it. This recording was made in 2002 by what has become the staple team for these releases: score restoration by John Morgan, with William Stromberg conducting those honorary Hollywood musicians, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, this time joined by a full choir (not to speak of a banjo and accordion, and an enlarged string section).
Dimitri Tiomkin, for American moviegoers of my generation, was a Big Name. Just look at a few of the movies for which he composed the score: Dial M for Murder, Rio Bravo (some of whose music was recycled for 'Red River'), Lost Horizon, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It's a Wonderful Life, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Giant, Duel in the Sun, The Big Sky, Friendly Persuasion, Hatari, The Alamo--and the list goes on. Notice how many Westerns there are in the list? Tiomkin may be considered to have more or less invented what we think of as the prototypical Hollywood Western filmscore 'sound.' And nowhere better than in this release. But did you know that Tiomkin, born in Ukraine, soloed as a pianist with the Berlin Philharmonic or that he played the European première of Gershwin's 'Concerto in F'? The concert world lost a pianist, but filmdom gained a great composer of apt and memorable scores.
This CD contains 37 cues from the movie, from the 'Main Title' to 'The New Brand.' Most of the cues are less than three minutes long, but there is a sound throughout that carries forward the movie's atmosphere with use of leitmotiv and similar orchestration. Recurrences of western tunes, some sung by the choir, tie the whole together as well. There is no question that music helps to romanticize the Old West, just as the movie did, and much of it may strike modern listeners as a bit old-fashioned. But one cannot argue but that the score completely underlines Howard Hawks's vision for this John Wayne movie about the first cattle drive north along the Chisholm Trail (and right past my boyhood home; another reason I loved the film).
The music has not been widely available before. It took a good deal of restoration by film score expert John Morgan. I, for one, am grateful to relive the music and recall the film; I saw it when I was eleven years old and happily can go back to that wondrous time via this recording.
Recommended for anyone remotely interested in American film scores.
The Complete Classic Score for a Classic Film--Dynamite!
William F. Flanigan Jr. | North Potomac, MD USA | 12/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another musical masterpiece from the premiere team for classic film score restoration and presentation, Messrs. John Morgan and William Stromberg! Like all their meticulous and most-welcomed endeavors, the CD is the first complete modern recording of the score for a film classic. This time out it's the 1948 film RED RIVER (RR). The CD is a re-release at "popular prices" of the original which is on the Marco Polo label (Naxos and Marco Polo are sister labels). To be up front about things, RR is not a film favorite nor is the film music of the composer, Dimitri Tiomkin, my cup of tea. However, if you are a film music enthusiast, anything and everything created by Morgan and Stromberg commands (if not demands) your serious attention. This CD is no exception. Every cue that Tiomkin composed for RR is reproduced in the recording. There are 37 tracks! None is over five minute long, but inter-track transitions are seamless creating a de facto RR concert. And quite a concert it is. The balance between individual instruments and orchestra sections is very good--no instrument is trampled in the musical dust. However, the choir becomes overbearing now and then. Other than that, the conducting is first rate. Dynamic and exciting. Orchestra performance strongly suggests that a fair amount of pre-recording rehearsal effort transpired. The CD booklet is interesting, but not particularly. Jack Smith wrote the film-focused text which he periodically punctuated with quotations from a few of the film's principals and some of the film's critics. Clever, but no cigar. No track-by-track analysis and no photographs either. More fitting for, say, a DVD than a CD. Fortunately, the booklet also contains John Morgan's "Red River Music Notes," a much more worthwhile read. The composer's score was tightly coupled to (and often buried by) what was happening on screen. Mr. Morgan's description of how the score was rendered capable of becoming a stand-alone musical entry is fascinating.
William Flanigan, Ph.D."
A note about RED RIVER's notes
J. Smith | Chula Vista, CA United States | 01/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writing the notes to this epic rerecording of the score to RED RIVER by Dimitri Tiomkin was one of the great experiences of my life. Bill Stromberg and John Morgan made this great music live again.
Sadly, this American release features only the biographical and background notes for the score. The detailed cue by cue breakdowns and commentary was available only in a limited European release, now out of print.
Jack Smith former filmusic critic, Films in Review"
AN EXCELLENT RECONSTRUCTION OF A CLASSIC SCORE at a VERY LOW
Edward Oleksak | New Jersey USA | 08/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the 37 tracks deter you - It plays like an uninterrupted "Western Symphony". The direction of William Stromberg & the Moscow Symphony Choir & Orchestra is "as American as apple pie"(although it would have been nice to have had the song's lyrics in the notes - which are very informative in any case). The recorded sound is exemplary - At the low price that this landmark film score is going for, GRAB IT - IT'S A TREASURE!"