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Mark Koldys
American Record Guide, October 2000

"Roy Webb came to RKO when Max Steiner was in charge of their music department. While the latter moved on to greater fame at Warner brothers, Webb stayed with RKO until 1955, composing for every imaginable genre of film. His music for Val Lewton's extraordinary series of horror tales reflects the approach taken on screen: understated, psychological, and without bombast.

"Webb's style has been aptly compared to Hindemith: "post-impressionist color limned with distinctly modern dissonance and bitonal harmony" (Christopher Palmer). Working with a smaller ensemble (RKO could rarely afford more than 40 players), the composer favored long, complex melody lines and unostentatious orchestrations. He makes ingenious use of a French nursery song in Cat People, summons 18th Century England in Bedlam, and conjures up gleaming instrumental hues for I Walked with a Zombie (a voodoo-themed rewrite of Jane Eyre). As these suites unfold, one can only admire the versatility and range of Webb's underrated abilities.

"The Slovak ensemble are right at home with these more restrained works. The voodoo chant from Zombie is sung here with a slight Slavic accent, but some may find that increases the frisson of this sequence. Again, Mr Stromberg's work is first-rate, as is every aspect of Marco Polo's production.

"The skill and inventiveness he brought to the table are undeniable, and we are fortunate to have a near-perfect documentation of some of his most striking efforts."

Rad Bennett

"Nine times out of ten, when I see a 1940s or '50s movie and can't place themusic (is it Steiner? maybe Victor Young?), the answering credit on thescreen will proclaim: Roy Webb. This self-effacing composer produced some 300Hollywood scores yet is the man least remembered when one is talking aboutfilm music. William T. Stromberg and John Morgan, who helm 90 percent ofMarco Polo's film music series, have tried to set that right with thisrelease, which features suites from the moody horror films associated withproducer Val Lewton. The music is barely noticeable when you watch themovies, partly because of the noisy optical tracks, which swallow woodwindsolos like a frog gulps mayflies; but also because these scores don't callattention to themselves owing to their effectiveness at complementing themovie they accompany. In his excellent notes, which really amount to anextended essay, Scott MacQueen points out that Webb was the very bestcomposer at writing music that could accompany dialogue without obscuring it.Taking the scores out of the movie and putting them in the studio and on CDallows us to discover some positively rhapsodic melodies and some genuinelyscary stuff, too, all of it totally effective. This is music of very highquality, and it is played to a turn by the excellent orchestra. Strombergunerringly guides the players in the right direction to produce readings thatseem entirely idiomatic and definitive. The recorded sound is about as goodas one could ask for."

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