The Film Music of Miklos Rozsaby Miklós Rózsa
This is a true collectors' item, assembling the Selznick production company's 13-minute edition of Rozsa's original 1945 music tracks for Hitchcock's Spellbound, and the recording of Rozsa's Jungle Book score, as it was cut for RCA-Victor by the composer in 1943, with Sabu narrating a la Peter and the Wolf. The idea was a good one at the time; unfortunately, the recording itself, by modern standards, leaves something to be desired. The orchestral passages conducted by Rozsa are fine, beautifully played and very well recorded; Sabu's readings are a little stiff and forced at times (he was not a trained actor), but honest. The real problem is that the narrative and orchestral passages don't mesh sonically, at least not in modern terms; the balances are way off between the speaker and the orchestra, and the differences are jarring. The CD producers have done a barely adequate job of compensating for these problems. The selection of music from Spellbound is derived from the recordings done for the film itself, and are state-of-the-art film recordings for 1945; all of the key material is featured, with perhaps a little too much emphasis on the theremin sections and the most melodramatic components. As a bonus, the producers have also included a much larger selection of music from Spellbound conducted by the composer and released on the ARA label in 1945. Those sides suffered from an incredible array of mastering and pressing problems, which makes their appearance on CD in any listenable form a minor engineering miracle -- these were among Rozsa's early efforts at re-recording one of his scores for commercial release, and they're of intrinsic historical interest on that basis. The noise is still a problem on these sides, although it has been cleaned up to an astonishing degree. Unfixable is the occasional creakiness and wrong notes hit by the orchestra, or the demands made of the 78 rpm format to break this material into three-minute segments. There are better recordings of this score available of more recent vintage, but this is the best incarnation ever heard of the first commercial release.
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