The Best Classical Film Score Albums of 2021
Soundtrack labels continued to thrive in 2021, uncovering old film scores worth preserving and expanding the classics to satisfy the seemingly insatiable thirst for music written for screens large and small.
Limited edition prints continue to be the primary marketing plan for most – with print runs ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 copies – and fan favorites like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone are top of mind. list of top-performing and best-packed classical film scores released in the last 12 months.
In alphabetical order:
Bandits in Rome (Quartet). This very first release of music for the 1968 Italian crime film starring John Cassavetes fills an important gap in the discography of the great Ennio Morricone (and his frequent collaborator Bruno Nicolai, here credited not only as conductor but also co -composer).
Bernard Herrmann: The soundtracks of the film on phase 4 (This side). Possibly the film music release of the year: seven albums the legendary composer recorded in London between 1968 and 1975. Many of his classics are here in definitive suites arranged by the composer: music for classics (“Citizen Kane”), fi and fantastic (“Fahrenheit 451”), Hitchcock (“Psycho”), De Palma (“Obsession”), as well as music by other composers (“Hamlet” by Shostakovich, “Things to Come” of Bliss). They never sounded better and each disc is contained in a sleeve that reproduces the original artwork and notes.
Cabo Blanco (La-La Land). A Charles Bronson film that attempted to be “Casablanca”, this 1980 action movie also boasted Jason Robards and Dominique Sanda – and a rich Latin-flavored Jerry Goldsmith score, probably better than that obscure J. Lee flick. Thompson deserved.
Anne Frank’s diary (La-La Land). The complete edition of one of Alfred Newman’s finest scores, his Oscar-nominated 1959 music for the moving story of the Holocaust by George Stevens, is finally out. Over two hours and 20 minutes of music spread over two discs, this late Newman masterpiece features exquisite violin solos by Louis Kaufman, perhaps the greatest violinist in Hollywood history.
The Eiger Penalty (Intrada). Clint Eastwood’s 1975 rock climbing thriller is all but forgotten today, but it’s special for two reasons: it’s probably the most dangerous role Eastwood (who also directed) has ever undertaken, and it contains one of John Williams’ best scores of the decade. A mix of classical and jazz influences, it only deserved a 36-minute LP at the time, but luckily we now have over two hours of ‘Eiger’ music to savour. (Full disclosure: liner notes by yours truly.)
Face of a Fugitive / The Public Eye (Intrada). The discovery of two rare scores by Jerry Goldsmith at opposite ends of his career was remarkable. The first is a forgotten western by Fred MacMurray from 1959; the second, the music for a 1992 crime thriller starring Joe Pesci that was recorded, then rejected by its director. It’s an unexpected treat to now have both on CD.
fiddler on the roof (La-La Land). John Williams won his first Oscar for adapting the Broadway musical for Norman Jewison’s 1971 film. Commemorating the film’s 50th anniversary, this three-disc expansion includes the soundtrack album plus dozens of instrumental and alternate versions of cues. Hearing Topol again as Tevye, Isaac Stern’s violin solos and timeless songs such as “Sunrise, Sunset”, as well as an essay detailing the entire history of the production and its music, make this a must.
Pictures (Quartet). John Williams’ most avant-garde score, for a 1972 Robert Altman film about a schizophrenic author (Susannah York), gets a sound upgrade and a beautifully illustrated booklet with Williams’ newly discovered liner notes for the movie. proposed soundtrack album in 1972 that failed to materialize when the film failed at the box office.
Legend (Music box discs). Ridley Scott’s 1985 fantasy inspired one of Jerry Goldsmith’s greatest scores, and this two-disc set has more of it than ever before. This orchestral and choral work, complete with song and dance, was replaced by techno-pop Tangerine Dream for the film’s US release; the original became a cause celebre when fans later found out about it.
Lionheart (Varese Sarabande). Jerry Goldsmith’s seventh and final film collaboration with his “Patton” and “Planet of the Apes” director Franklin J. Schaffner was this 1987 adventure set in the 12th century. Goldsmith’s epic, symphonic score was the best thing about it, and this two-disc set (83 minutes of music) has to be considered definitive.
Masada (Intrada). When Jerry Goldsmith’s Emmy-winning score for this acclaimed miniseries was first released on LP in 1981, it totaled 37 minutes. We thought it was a miracle when, in 2011, a two-CD box set (also featuring Morton Stevens’ music, two and a half hours of music) was released. We now have a four-disc set featuring the entire original score, many previously unreleased cues and alternatives, and the MCA album re-recording.
The matrix (Varese Sarabande). With “The Matrix Resurrections” in theaters now, it’s time to re-evaluate Don Davis’ groundbreaking, complex, and post-modernist score for the original 1999 film. This two-disc set is billed as “The Complete Edition.” , with almost 100 minutes of music, as well as a booklet containing an informative interview with the composer.
Pedro Almodóvar & Alberto Iglesias Film Music Collection (Quartet). This lavish box set features the first 12 collaborations between the Oscar-winning Spanish director and his longtime musical collaborator, three-time Oscar nominee Iglesias (now a possible nominee for their 13th film, “Parallel Mothers”). Includes: ‘All About My Mother’, ‘Talk to Her’, ‘Pain and Glory’, ‘Bad Parenting’ and more.
The Pink Panther: Final Chapters Collection (Quartet). “Rhapsodies in Pink” is the title of the libretto essay, and it couldn’t be more apt: Henry Mancini’s final three scores in the series, for “Trail of the Pink Panther” (1982), “Curse of the Pink Panther” (1983) and “Son of the Pink Panther” (1993). All three contain new arrangements of the classic theme and many melodious, light-hearted moments for the films starring Peter Sellers, Ted Was and Roberto Benigni.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Quartet). Billy Wilder was so enamored with Miklós Rózsa’s 1953 Violin Concerto that he asked the composer to adapt it as a score for his 1970 film Holmes (starring Robert Stephens and Colin Blakeley). This new edition combines the music from the film with the original interpretation of the concerto by Jascha Heifetz and adds Rozsa’s 1977 “fantasy” on these themes with the film’s soloist Erich Gruenberg.
Shamus (Intrada). Burt Reynolds played a private detective in this lighthearted 1973 thriller, and Jerry Goldsmith’s fun and catchy score had long been considered lost and unavailable for commercial release. Somehow, Intrada found it, and although the album was only 25 minutes long, it was worth the wait.
somewhere in time (La-La Land). Jane Seymour-Christopher Reeve’s beloved romantic fantasy contained one of John Barry’s most popular scores, the one that ultimately earned him a platinum album. This restoration and expansion of the original LP contains all of the recorded liner notes for the 1980 film, and the booklet includes Seymour’s recollections of Barry and his involvement with the project.
tamarind seed (Silva screen). John Barry’s evocative music for this 1974 film – his only score for director Blake Edwards – has long been sought after by collectors. Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif star in this combination of romantic drama and Cold War thriller, which echoes some of Barry’s darker James Bond scores of the era.
The Tunnel of Time, Vol. 1 and 2 (La-La Land). Admittedly a guilty pleasure, Irwin Allen’s 1966-1967 time travel TV series could be thrilling or silly, depending on the episode. These two volumes, six hours of music on six discs, include fine work by Leith Stevens, Lyn Murray and George Duning, all veterans of fantasy and science fiction of the 50s and 60s, but the star naturally returns. to “Johnny” Williams, the latest “Star Wars” genius whose suspenseful score for the pilot still ranks among his best work for television.
One and the other (Play Time) French filmmaker Claude Lelouch’s 1981 epic achieved an extraordinary musical feat: a score by two of France’s greatest composers, Michel Legrand and Francis Lai, for a story about four musical families of different nationalities and the impact that World War II would have on everyone. This 40th anniversary edition is a nostalgic reminder of the incredible melodic gifts of the two Oscar-winning composers.