The Second Disc

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There’s “A Place in the Sun”: Classic Hollywood Score Receives World Premiere Release

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A Place in the Sun1951’s six-time Oscar winner A Place in the Sun wasn’t Hollywood’s first adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel An American Tragedy.  The very first film version of the haunting novel came from Paramount Pictures and director Josef von Sternberg in 1931.  But the 1951 motion picture – starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters, directed by George Stevens – is the one most remembered by generations transfixed by Dreiser’s sad tale of desperation and ill-fated romance.  One of those six Oscar statuettes went to Franz Waxman (Sunset Blvd., Rear Window) for his score, yet Waxman’s memorable music – augmented by contributions from Victor Young and Daniele Amfitheatrof – never received a soundtrack album.  Kritzerland has rectified that, some sixty-plus years after the film’s release, having just announced the world premiere CD of Waxman’s A Place in the Sun.

Stevens’ film, based on Dreiser’s novel but with different names for the characters, concerns itself with the tale of lower-class youth George Eastman (Clift), caught between the affections of Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a poor fellow factory worker, and high-society gal Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor).  When Alice becomes pregnant, George takes matters into his own hands, with tragic results.  Waxman was the perfect choice to score this dramatic story.  Kritzerland describes the score as “brilliant,” and “distinguished by what is surely one of film music’s most beautiful and exquisite main themes. The heart and soul of Waxman’s score is ‘Vickers’ Theme,’ and it recurs throughout the score in many guises. It’s a stunning theme and one that captures the essence of the film with sublime perfection. But all of Waxman’s music for the film is sublime – there’s really not much more to say than that because the proof is in the hearing. This is film music as film music is meant to be – not padding, not filler, not sound design – film music designed to underscore the images on screen, the characters, the drama.”

What can you expect on this first-time soundtrack release?  Hit the jump to find more details, the full track listing, and pre-order link!

Additional music for the film was written by Young and Amfitheatrof as a result of Paramount’s delaying the film’s release so as not to compete with Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. (also scored by Waxman).  The busy composer scored seven (!) films in 1951, and was unavailable to handle the re-scoring requested by Stevens as he edited the final film.  The music from all three composers blends seamlessly, however, as both Young and Amfitheatrof adhered to Waxman’s key thematic material.

Kritzerland’s A Place in the Sun includes all of the surviving cues taken from Paramount’s masters, along with a couple of music-and-effects tracks for completeness’ sake.  The label reports that “our wizard audio restoration man, Chris Malone, did amazing work on the cues taken from the masters, and – for the others – was somehow magically able to keep the music and eliminate the effects while never compromising the audio quality. Several cues are in the original form in which they were written by Waxman, and some are the re-scored versions.”  In total, you’ll hear over 51 minutes from A Place in the Sun.

The story of A Place in the Sun has continued to stir imaginations in the years since its release; in recent years, famed theatrical composer and lyricist Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (Bye Bye Birdie, Applause) even tried their hand at a stage musical version of An American Tragedy.  The world premiere release of Franz Waxman’s soundtrack to A Place in the Sun is a limited edition of 1,000 units, and is scheduled to ship the final week of August.  Pre-orders placed at Kritzerland’s own website usually arrive an average of four weeks early.  You can order, or hear sound samples, at the link below!

Franz Waxman, A Place in the Sun: Music from the Motion Picture (Kritzerland, 2013)

  1. Prelude and First Scene
  2. The First Mile
  3. Love’s Meeting
  4. Dance and Angela (Original Version)
  5. Evil Plans
  6. Loon Lake – Part 2
  7. To the Lake
  8. Buildup to Murder
  9. The Drowning – Part I
  10. The Drowning – Part 2
  11. Farewell and Frenzy (Original Version)
  12. Angela Collapses
  13. Witness Montage
  14. The Last Mile (Finale) (Original Version)
  15. Prelude and First Scene (Film Version)
  16. Rhumba (Original Version)
  17. Dance and Angela (Film Version)
  18. Out of Nowhere/Rhumba (*)
  19. Not Married
  20. Alice’s Radio
  21. Ophelia
  22. Farewell and Frenzy (Film Version)
  23. Finale (Film Version)

Tracks 15-23 are bonus tracks

(*) composed by Heyman/Green

Written by Joe Marchese

July 16, 2013 at 10:07

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