Paramount Pictures 90th Anniversary: Memorable Scores

Paramount Pictures 90th Anniversary: Memorable Scores actually covers a little less than 60 years of film music, but who's counting -- they were 60 good years. Presented primarily in chronological order (the first and last tracks are the exceptions), this disc presents both original soundtrack recordings and some re-recordings of music -- mostly main and end titles -- representing Paramount's film legacy. In so doing, the disc manages to highlight many of Hollywood's pre-eminent composers as well as present a sort of capsule overview of the changes in film music styles over the years. Starting with straight orchestral masterworks of the '40s and '50s (from composers such as Miklos Rozsa and Elmer Bernstein), the disc then moves to Henry Mancini's early-'60s pop sound with his "Moon River" and "Baby Elephant Walk." The late '60s and early '70s represented a time of great diversity in film and film music, here encapsulated in the syrupy strains of Love Story, immediately followed by the sublime "Waltz" and "Love Theme" from The Godfather. Jerry Goldsmith's triumphant Star Trek: The Motion Picture fanfare and John Williams' unforgettable Raiders of the Lost Ark usher in the post-Star Wars blockbuster sound. Synthesizer-based, pop-influenced music, such as "Axel F." from Beverly Hills Cop, threatened to take over film soundtracks in the mid-'80s, while Maurice Jarre brought an orchestral sensibility to the all-electronic score in his brilliant "Building the Barn" from Witness. By the '90s, symphonic sounds, rock rhythms, and synthesizers began to blend, while composers utilized a full palette to really open up their orchestrations. This disc covers a lot of ground, with the penultimate track from Jerry Goldsmith's score to The Sum of All Fears bringing it all together. His use of vocals with unique instrumentation amidst traditional brass and strings provide a glimpse at the power still inherent in the best film music. From the opening strains of John Williams' powerful "Hymn to the Fallen" to Mark Mothersbaugh's delightful "Baby Shower Happenings," this is an interesting and insightful collection. Some of the tracks aren't as "memorable" as Paramount's marketing department might want you to believe (the inclusion of music from Tomb Raider seems particularly gratuitous) and all of the music here has been previously available elsewhere, but as a sampler and a study of the development of film music as an art form, it's not bad at all.

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