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David Hurwitz

"Franz Waxman was the first to admit his stylistic debt to the great Russiancomposer Dmitri Shostakovich, and to Richard Strauss as well, nd that madehim the perfect choice to be the composer of this deliciously witty,vivacious score. Actually the music depicting the film's (anti-)heroine,Fanny, is a modal tune remarkably like an English folk song, but Waxmandevelops it throughout the score in a convincingly symphonic manner, and thewhole work has real continuity of thought, a quality so often lacking inmovie music. In order to appreciate Waxman's drolleries, it's necessary toknow something of the plot, which concerns a frivolous society heiress whomarries a 'nice Jewish boy.' Unwilling to give up the high life, even afterthe birth of her daughter, she ultimately loses her looks and her family, andfinds herself facing old age alone. But since this story is, essentially, asort of Hollywood fable, her husband (Mr. Skeffington) returns to her, oldand blind, and she welcomes him with open arms. As annotator Bill Whitakernotes, it's a very 'Rosenkavalier-ish' story, with its sub-plot about thefear and loneliness of old age, as well as the sentimental ending. Simply tonote that Waxman manages to find a musical counterpoint to every twist andturn of this very complicated script ought to be recommendation enough. Insum: a brilliant, magnificent piece of work, ideally presented by Strombergand his Moscow players."

"Another impressive instalment in Marco Polo's series of classic film scores from the usual team of arranger-restorer John Morgan and conductor William T. Stromberg, with Bill Whitaker contributing booklet notes of sweeping and generous scholarship. You can tell just from the look of this release, before the disc gets anywhere near your player, that the project has been a labor of love: Whitaker's huge essay and an explanatory note from Morgan, full-color cover, and photographs all the way through, both still and production shots. ... Waxman's score, boiled down by John Morgan from 90+ minutes to 60+ to present the best of it here, is packed with wonderful invention, imaginatively, gloriously orchestrated. ... The playing, too, is surprisingly good: If you didn't known that this was the 13th collaboration between the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and William Stromberg for the Marco Polo film-score series, you might reasonably have been surprised that a Russian ensemble would turn to Hollywood with such a feel for the idiom."

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12:08:41 AM, 1 May 2016
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