Rodgers' score for Victory at Sea is glorious, moving.....
Alex Diaz-Granados | Miami, FL United States | 04/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although Richard Rodgers will always be remembered for his brilliant musical theater collaborations with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, particularly with the latter (South Pacific, The Sound of Music), he also had a successful career as a composer of incidental music, and Victory at Sea is perhaps his best-known orchestral score. Rodgers composed 13 hours' worth of music for "Victory at Sea," NBC-TV's 26-episode documentary which premiered in 1952 and was a staple of the pre-cable late night hours on independent televisions such as WCIX-TV in Miami. Each episode ran for 30 minutes and focused primarily on the U.S. Navy's participation in the then-still recent Second World War, from the fight against German U-boats in the North Atlantic to the fierce struggle for domination of the Pacific between American and Japanese fleets. Renowned conductor and arranger Robert Russell Bennett's name has forever been linked with Rodgers' Victory at Sea score, for it was Bennett who conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra during the original soundtrack's recording, and early LP and cassette editions of the score were credited to this now defunct ensemble. Later recordings, including this 1992 BMG re-issue, were later performed by the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, but still under the energetic and expert baton of conductor Bennett.This first of two Victory at Sea BMG CDs contains all of the tracks contained in the 1950s-era RCA LP album, starting with the iconic "sweep of wind and wave" motif that started each episode. Even without the visual input, if you listen to "The Song of the High Seas," you can conjure up mental images of windswept white-capped waves as warships large and small sail across the oceans. Track one also features the menacing "U-boat" motif, which is played in the minor keys and conveys a sense of "danger down below" as a German submarine tracks its prey -- more than likely an Allied cargo ship -- and sinks it with a salvo of torpedoes.Rodgers portrays various battles and aspects of naval warfare magnificently, capturing the emotional impact of Japan's early victories in "The Pacific Boils Over" (track 2), the resolute comeback of the Americans after Midway and the long struggle for a South Pacific island in the rousing "Guadalcanal March" (track 3), the "Hard Work and Horseplay" that were part of the sailors' and Marines' daily lives (track 5), and the awesome power of American naval aviation in "Theme of the Fast Carriers" (track 6), a stirring motif that conveys not only the big carriers and the air groups that fought so many crucial battles, but the awful price paid in blood as planes and ships were lost in action in such engagements as the Battle of the Coral Sea, "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," and the bloody campaigns for Iwo Jima and Okinawa.Perhaps the most popular piece from Victory at Sea is "Beneath the Southern Cross," (track 7), a strangely sensuous and romantic tango-like composition. It was such a lovely and evocative melody that Rodgers later "borrowed" it and transformed it into a hit song ("No Other Love"), which would be covered by Perry Como.There are also several tracks ("Fire on the Waters," "Danger Down Deep," "Mediterranean Mosaic," and "Magnetic North") that were not in any previous recording that I'd owned, and even though they feel tacked on (the producers should have placed them before track 9, in my opinion), they are still very powerful compositions. I would recommend this album to any fan of either film/television scores or American music of the 20th Century."
Brialliantly moving scores.
Jason Poplaski | 12/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Rodgers has successfully captured the tragedy of defeat and elation of victory in this album.His passages not only tell a story, they convey powerful emotions, best felt by those who were there. The recurring themes vividly identify the elements in the passages.I loved the Victory At Sea score as a kid, and I still do today. It is truly a contemporary classical masterpiece."
Not The Original Music
Curtis A. Culwell | Athens, GA | 08/09/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album is fine for individuals who may want to savor their actual days at sea, which is why I went ahead and gave it three stars. But what I really wanted it for was to be THE actual recorded music of the TV series, not a re-recording. While this is a very nice set of recordings, it is probably done with a larger orchestra, and for some reason it is all played a lot slower than the score of the original TV series. I was really hoping for the EXACT recording and this is not it."
Always an inspiration...even more so on CD
Bill Wisch | Hackettstown,, NJ USA | 10/28/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been listening to and enjoying the powerful music of Victory at Sea ever since it was on TV back in the 50's. Anyone who loves colorful, rousing music, wrapped in genius will love this album. Due to the Dolby process, this CD version is so clear and life-like that it's almost like listening to the score for the first time. I saw the show...purchased the LPs...enjoyed the cassettes and now have the CD. It doesn't get any better than this!"