by Christopher Coleman
20th century draws to a close, we see “The Best of the
Century” lists for everything one could possibly think of:
cars, athletes, actors, movies, food, companies, individuals,
teams, the list goes on and on. The
Silva Treasury brings their best-list to CD in their release entitled Cinema
Century 2000. This is
quite a compilation. Here we
have four CDs packed with some of the most memorable tunes of this century
-from The Mark to the Mask of Zorro.
Each CD represents a particular era. The first represents the
Golden Age of Hollywood. The
second represents the decade of the sixties.
Third, we have the seventies and eighties remembered.
The nineties are finally found on CD number four.
The idea for such a CD is admirable and not an easy one to produce,
one would imagine. As great
as it is to have such a large compilation of such varied themes, it is
hard not to be confused by some of the representative scores for
particular eras. There are a
few omissions that will, at least, make one scratch their head or get down
Golden Age of Hollywood produced unrivaled films even to this day.
Likewise many of their scores go unrivaled and from time to time
have a musical hat tipped to them by our modern day masters of silver
screen scores. The initial CD is full of the greats: Steiner (King Kong, The Treasure of the Sierra
Madre, The Cain Mutiny), Korngold (Robin Hood, The
Sea Hawk), Newman (Wuthering Heights, The Mark of Zorro),
Waxman (Prince Valiant), and Rozsa (The Thief of Bagdad)
among others. The
accomplishments of these men have been hailed for years and conductors Nic
Raine, Paul Bateman and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra continue
to honor their achievements with bright, solid performances.
Of note is track 3, Alexander Nevsky, Entry into Pskov, a wonderful
choral piece, track 4, Wuthering Heights, a stellar performance of Cathy’s
Theme, and Miklos Rozsa’s The Thief of Bagdad, The Love of
the Princess, one of my favorite Rozsa’s themes!
This is the best of the quad-CD package.
The Golden Era provided so many great themes to pick from. A tough job for sure, yet Silva did an admirable job in their
number two has a few good selections as well, but overall dips in the
quality of song selection. The
Guns of Navarone, The Legend of Navarone is an interesting
choice. Tiomkin’s theme is
bright and peppy yet still heroic. Of
course, one can never have enough of Rozsa and he is represented in the
sixties by, among others, El Cid.
Here we have a good performance of the Love Theme. The Sixties saw the birth of a screen legend that continues
all the way into the end of the century, James Bond. Monty Norman’s recognizable theme for Dr. No and for
the special agent is played with a real funky little swing to it.
The unforgettable Nino Rota theme for Romeo and Juliet is
given a fair shake midway through the CD through a concise suite.
This might be the most diverse regarding content.
There are a number of themes that became standards from Henry
Mancini, Johnny Mandel, and Michel Legrand, but are not overly thrilling
in the midst of the afford mentioned works.
into the monumental decade, as far as film scores go, the seventies
showcased some of the greatest film scores ever and the eighties built on
the established momentum. Unfortunately,
for the film score fan, many such scores go unrepresented.
The Godfather receives two theme entries and while both are
truly classic, one representative would have sufficed, if only to make
room for at least one theme from John Williams.
Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture gave new
life to Trekdom and is one of his best works.
From Goldsmith’s bag also comes the beautifully sad Main Theme
from Papillon. Stanley Myers
wonderful theme for the Deer Hunter, Cavatina, is simply one
of the most gorgeous themes one can listen to and is welcome addition.
The travesty here is that John Williams is not represented at all
in the seventies. Maybe due
to the various John Williams tributes that have come out or are in the
process of coming out, they elected to not include much from the most
prolific film composer of the latter twentieth century.
Still, this is a true shame.
Williams’ exclusion from the seventies was strange, some of the entries
for the eighties are even stranger. While Body Heat, The Right
Stuff, and even Batman, have their merits, do they musically symbolize
cinema for the eighties? Again
Williams is bypassed. No Raiders
of the Lost Ark, E.T. Empire Strikes Back, Return of
the Jedi? Horner
doesn’t even get a hoot in the eighties, but is; however, is given his
due on the last CD. Is
Michael Kamen’s work for Lethal Weapon more representative of
film music in the eighties than these?
the nineties, a host of Oscar winners fill the CD and it is likely that
most of these selections will go on to help define film music in the
nineties. The mystical
Goldsmith theme from Basic Instinct is as mesmerizing as ever.
This is an interesting, but acceptable piece for this compilation.
The Body Guard is certainly known more for Whitney
Houston’s hit pop song than Silvestri’s score and while I’m glad to
hear just about anything from Silvestri, this piece certainly doesn’t
qualify for to represent the twentieth century.
Both Il Postino and The English Patient are two of
the most overrated scores of the decade, but their inclusion is no
surprise. On this CD, James
Horner certainly gets well represented and no wonder since the nineties
have been his most productive and arguably his best. Braveheart, Apollo 13, Titanic and The
Mask of Zorro are all included. Unfortunately,
the certain elements of the performances in all four tracks cannot but
make one wince. Finally, some Williams- Saving Private Ryan or rather Hymn
to the Fallen will certainly go down as a classic piece forever
marking Williams as a master composerand this is a very good performance
of the hymn, but will that be his legacy for this century?
Silva’s task here
was immense. It is my assumption that they desired to pick the best
representatives of film music for the century for this CD.
Aside from disc one, they have brought together a very puzzling
compilation. Sadly, the
liner notes do not shed any light on why they picked the selections they
did, which might help the listener to buy into their choices a little
more. With there being so many good to great composers that have been
active in the last 50 years, it would be impossible to sample them all;
however, there are no pieces from composers who truly represent their
times such as: Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein and Hans Zimmer.
The concept of Cinema Century 2000 is great, but the selections and
sometimes the performances are just not those one would want posterity to
judge film music by.