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Sunset Blvd.



Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Franz Waxman 

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World Premiere Release After 52 Years
Thomas Kiefner (December 1, 2002)
Although parts of the score have been performed by symphony orchestras of the world, this is the premiere release of the original motion picture score. It is performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the baton of Joel McNeely in a continuing series. Without a doubt, this is Franz Waxman's greatest film score. It received the Oscar for best film score in 1950.

This is not the typical kind of score that was done during this time frame in Hollywood. While Waxman used the practice of the Wagnerian leitmotiv, he subjected these themes to an incredible array of variations, at times barely recognizable, but still there at all times. Joe's theme, which at first is a jazzy and upbeat theme, undergoes several changes during the film, appearing in simple piano form, soul like saxophone, or strings.
Norma's theme, simple and melodic, also appears several times in different ways. From a full orchestra of strings with clarinet, to a twisted violin solo it is presented in whatever form is necessary. Wilder, the director, along with Waxman were of the opinion that the music needed to be felt more than heard during the film. I agree with this having seen the film and not really noticing the music except on a couple of occasions. However, as a soundtrack, this is an incredible listening experience. The sound quality is excellent, capturing some of the very quiet passages extremely well. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and McNeely did there homework and gave me the impression that they knew this score very well when they recorded it.

I can highly recommend this recording as one that you should have in your collection. This is a classic work that is in the class of King Kong, The Best Years Of Our Lives and Citizen Kane. I am extremely grateful that Robert Townson from Varese Sarabande undertook this project. I have already received many hours of pleasurable listening and I look forward to many more.

Reviews on other sites:
Film Music Magazine (Counterpoint release) 
suggested by:
Robert DiMucci

Film Music: A Neglected Art 
suggested by:
Thomas Kiefner

Filmscore Visions 
suggested by:
Joep de Bruijn (German / Deutsch) (German / Deutsch) 

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