The celebrated RCA "Classic Film Scores" serie is still today, after 40 years, the best starting point to enter the world of Hollywood music of the Golden Age. Full symphonic music in the Romantic vein (Composer Max Steiner from Vienna once said the best film music composer would have been Wagner...), lush sound and rich orchestral texture, are the first recognizable characteristics of this music, "invented" by German, Austrian, Hungarian, and Russian emigres. The movies from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties are immediately distinguishable by anyone, after just hearing to the music soundtracks (even if not watching them).
Charles Gerhardt was the first first rate musician (along with composer Elmer Bernstein) to champion the revaluation and rediscovery of this often (and unjustly) forgotten or underestimated music. And, I add, he was possibly the best conductor for it.
In this cd, we hear some notable music by Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and not only.
The "Dodge City" suite (1939, Steiner) is the only portion available on cd: the robust and epic main title music erupts with full orchestra following the Warner Bros. Fanfare (composed by Steiner in 1937); it is a classic heroic Max Steiner theme. Other notable music is the lovely and tender love theme.
After hearing the superlative 10 minutes selection from "The Adventures of Don Juan" (1948, Steiner) you'll immediately want to listen to the complete film score (Tribute Film Classics/Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William Stromberg): the "Parade into London" cue is richly orchestrate and the showpiece of the entire score.
"They Died With Their Boots On" (Steiner, 1948) shows Gerhardt ability in conducting this varied music: bugle-calls, Indian music and the love theme are perfectly combined.
"Captain Blood", "The Sea Hawk" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood", famous swashbucklers, are supported by stirring music scores by Korngold; Gerhardt captures all the excitement and emotion the music demands.
A short track by Franz Waxman (Objective Burma, 1945) and a rare gem by Hugo Friedhofer (The Sun Also Rises) complete this beautiful cd, which I recommend with no reserve.