KILAR:  Film Music
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).  König der letzten Tage ("The King of the Last Days") (1993).  Death and the Maiden (1994).  The Beads of One Rosary (1980).  Pearl in the Crown (1972).
Cracow Philharmonic Chorus; Polish National Radio Symphony Orch/Antoni Wit, cond.
MARCO POLO 8.225153 (F) (DDD) TT:  63:39
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DEUTSCH:  Film Music (restorations by John Morgan)
The Maltese Falcon (1941).  George Washington Slept Here (1942).  The Mask of Dimitrios (1944).  High Sierra (1941).  Northern Pursuit (1943).
Moscow Symphony Orch/William Stromberg, cond.
MARCO POLO 8.225169 (F) (DDD) TT:  75:51

Here are two more intriguing entries in Marco Polo's film music series.  Wojciech Kilar (b. 1921) first studied music in his native Poland then went to Paris in 1959 to study with Nadia Boulanger. Kilar's "classical" work was recognized by many major awards. After composing his first film score in 1960, he worked with Poland's best-known directors writing more than 100 scores. Kilar's first American film, Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula, a 23-minute suite featured on this CD, has six sections opening with The Brides, rich in strings, piano and percussion, followed by The Party, which features glistening high percussion. Mina/Elizabeth is a lovely interlude, with traces of Bernard Herrmann, followed by a rather uninspired episode called Vampire Hunters. Mina/Dracula is another lovely interlude and the suite ends with The Storm, a wild movement a la Carl Orff with shouting by the chorus over heavy percussion. King of the Last Days, about the rise and fall of the false prophet John of Leyden, includes an exquisite episode for English horn with harpsichord strings, poignant indeed, along with a reverential Intrada, Agnus Dei and Gloria. Miserere, with its pounding percussion and chorus, also shows the influence of Orff.  Roman Polanski directed the 1994 psychological thriller Death and the Maiden. Of the three excerpts, particularly effective is the second, Pauline's Theme, effectively describing the tragic life of the heroine. From the 1980 film The Beads of One Rosary we have a wistful, touching waltz, and from an earlier film, Pearl in the Crown (1972), there are two brief somber score cues that doubtless served the movie well.  Antoni Wit leads the Polish orchestra in vivid performances with appropriately robust sounds from the Cracow chorus.

Adolph Deutsch worked for Warner Bros. from 1937 to 1945 and had the misfortune of being there at the same time as Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Franz Waxman. Deutsch (1897-1980), after initial piano studies in his native London, arrived in the United States in 1910. He lived in New York and because of his work in a New York publishing house was able to attend rehearsals of the New York Philharmonic under conductors Toscanini, Barbirolli and Sir Thomas Beecham. He became fascinated with American popular music and began orchestrating for dance bands.  Had it not been for the presence of Ray Heindorf at Warners, Deutsch might have been assigned some of the musical films of the time. He scored 53 feature films for Warner, primarily melodrama including ten films with Humphrey Bogart, as well as many with other leading Warner stars - except for Bette Davis who "belonged" to Steiner, Korngold or Waxman. After leaving Warners in 1945, Deutsch was primarily associated with M-G-M where he worked on Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun.

Marco Polo's well-filled CD offers excerpts from five of Deutsch's finest films. Of these I find most intriguing the 12 tracks from the 1944 film The Mask of Dimitrios.  As score restorer John Morgan states, "Although Deutsch could certainly write a tune when called for, he usually was assigned films that required composing short motifs that could be manipulated within his musical landscape.  He was clearly of the twentieth century - musically speaking - and one hears a harmonic language closer to Hindemith than Richard Strauss..."  The strong performances by the Moscow Symphony under William Stromberg's direction have been well-recorded.  Rudy Behlmer's authoritative notes are a plus and Marco Polo has provided detailed information about each film.  Both are classy productions, highly recommended.

R.E.B. (May 2003)