, November 2008
If you are just taking your first tentative steps into the world of screen music appreciation, or if you know of someone who is, this fine package from Naxos would make a very good introduction. Consisting of a 72-page booklet and two very generous CDs of music, author John Riley provides a necessarily sketchy introduction to film music, old and new (a much, much bigger book would have been needed to cover the same ground in detail), and not just with the emphasis on Hollywood films, providing brief profiles of many of the great names in film music composition the world over, together with introductions to some of their work, mainly as a guide to the selections included on the CDs. This for course means that there are some notable absentees, but many of the landmark compositions are covered, and excerpts from them included.
It's a nice, undemanding read that can be enjoyed by all, and includes archival quotes from composers Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jaubert, George Antheil, Henry Mancini, Miklos Rozsa, William Alwyn, and Sir Arthur Bliss; concluding with the bonus feature "A Century of Film Music: A Timeline," which not only charts the notable film music events, but also historical events, and literary, art and architectural achievements.
The two CDs, both featuring more than 78 minutes of music, reveal just how many fine recordings of screen music have graced the Naxos family labels over the years; all of it re-recorded of course, and the majority of it beautifully played. Disc One mainly concentrates on Hollywood, past and present; with Disc Two focusing on British, European and Japanese film music.
Ideal as a stocking filler, this release provides hours of absorbing reading and listening and, as I said at the start of this review, serves as an excellent introduction to anyone with a blossoming interest in the art of screen music writing.