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Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, November 2009

I cannot remember any production as impressive as this…I must admit that I am unable to improve on the printed information accompanying this truly outstanding production…In the superbly written booklet are many pages full of fascinating brief glimpses of many film music composers, their compositions and various bits of not widely known trivia. To some, that alone would be reason enough for this magnificent production. As a relatively casual film and film music buff, I must admit to not even knowing three composers’ names. Although film music can be seen as “ephemeral”, and belonging only with the film for which it was created, composers extend the life of a film score by creating suites from it for performance and recording. While a suite may not reflect exactly what happens in the film, and may have material added or cut or be orchestrated differently, it can often bring about a more satisfactory musical experience. (I agree whole heartedly though a few “film purists” may disagree).

The “original soundtrack” (OST) takes the actual music tracks from the film, while re-recordings present musically satisfying versions, perhaps by using suites or even altering the tempi and other performance details. Both options allow the composer’s work to be heard without interference from the dialogue and sound effects. All the CD tracks for Discover Film Music are recordings or suites. For most of them, the recorded audio quality is very good indeed though there were a few of slightly lesser quality. I am certain that to rerecord those few would simply be cost prohibitive. I easily give the Discover Film Music production my highest possible recommendation and feel comfortable in doing so. I wish I could more clearly describe what it is all about. I would hazard the guess that receiving it as a gift would be a wonderful holiday season gift for any film or film-music lover.

Mark Koldys
American Record Guide, May 2009

While this entry in Naxos’s Discover Series is packaged like a set of CDs, the booklet is the primary attraction. Mr Riley is a knowledgeable writer whose book on Shostakovich film scores is highly regarded. Here in 105 pages he gives an overview of motion picture music from the days of silent film to the present. There is no condescension; the author generally avoids outright qualitative judgments, but where they do sneak in it’s done with subtlety and respect. An appendix includes a film music timeline from 1885 (!) to 2008 and a glossary. Rabid film music buffs will not learn much, but they’re not the target audience.

Jeff Hall
ScreenSounds, 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.

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