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 Posted:   Dec 3, 2008 - 3:56 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Listening to this superlative CD right now. The last two or three Varese Golden Age releases have displayed wonderful sound. I don't know what new techniques they are using to get such smooth, rich and noise-free sound from their vintage scores these days, but they are among the finest-sounding I've heard. Makes me wish all my Golden Age scores could be remastered like this.
As for the music itself... magnificent, with great beauty and a real epic quality. Not to be missed!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2008 - 5:33 PM   
 By:   robby bryant   (Member)

Just got mine, now listening. What a score. In more ways than one!

 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2008 - 6:03 PM   
 By:   Gary S.   (Member)

Must be nice. I had an empty mailbox today. No BSX. No LLL. No Intrada. No SAE. No Varese Club releases. Can't wait to get my copy which should be here soon.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2008 - 7:58 PM   
 By:   mrebks   (Member)

of course, the NEW President's Lady is awfully cool too... ma belle indeed.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2008 - 10:35 PM   
 By:   PeterD   (Member)

I'm hoping that someone who's listened to the complete CD can tell me, does the rousing theme that occupies the first minute or so of the Main Titles get any play/development in the rest of the score, or is it pretty much limited to the opening?

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2008 - 4:53 PM   
 By:   markbagby   (Member)

I'm hoping that someone who's listened to the complete CD can tell me, does the rousing theme that occupies the first minute or so of the Main Titles get any play/development in the rest of the score, or is it pretty much limited to the opening?

Well, I'm halfway through track 4, and so far it's been referenced in all three following track 1. Track 4 currently has a nice restatement of the fanfare, then slipping to strings, now winds...superlative.

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2008 - 4:56 PM   
 By:   Steve Johnson   (Member)

I'm so happy with the material that's rolling in, I don't care when I get these.

Glad to hear they sound good!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2008 - 6:33 PM   
 By:   PeterD   (Member)

Well, I'm halfway through track 4, and so far it's been referenced in all three following track 1. Track 4 currently has a nice restatement of the fanfare, then slipping to strings, now winds...superlative.

Thanks for the info, Mark. I'm sure I'll be getting this one sooner or later. Well, maybe I better make it sooner, before my employer decides to declare bankruptcy.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 5, 2008 - 12:07 PM   
 By:   markbagby   (Member)

Well, I'm halfway through track 4, and so far it's been referenced in all three following track 1. Track 4 currently has a nice restatement of the fanfare, then slipping to strings, now winds...superlative.

Thanks for the info, Mark. I'm sure I'll be getting this one sooner or later. Well, maybe I better make it sooner, before my employer decides to declare bankruptcy.


You're welcome. Having finished listening, it's a superb Newman score during what was probably his best decade, imho. The main theme is re-used continually in a number of guises, but always appropriately. There are also a couple of cues ("German Dance" and "The Race Track") that are startingly consistent with music of the era. All in all, a great CD and one of the Varese Club's best.

And I must echo what others say about the sound: hard to believe this was recorded in mono on optical tracks, though admittedly late in the period as studios changed over to magnetic tape. The album is in more-than-passable ersatz "stereo" because apparently two tracks were recorded at the time, one for presumably high to mid-range and the other for mid to low-range sounds. Combined they make for a surprising richness, recorded 55 years ago. Terrific job by both 20th century Fox engineers and to the work of Nick Redman, Mike Mattesino, Ron Fuglsby, Daniel Hersch and DJ Audio.

Highly recommended. I can't say that about every Varese club CD...some have been a tad disappointing to me, personally, but this one's a keeper.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 6, 2008 - 6:47 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

mark bagby.

The stereo for these tracks is a wonderful fluke.

Two sets of mikes were used - one set over the orchestra. a second set for the back of the hall to give some depth to the sound. These halls were small with almost no reverb of their own.

This is good. The mikes over the orchestra would capture the string sound better cuz in a dry hall the string sound doesn't carry very far.
Woodwinds carry farther and are captured equally on both sets of mikes.
HOrns shoot out farther and sound neareer to the rear mikes, even though they are not.
This makes it sound like a normal stereo strings left, winds middle and horns right, evden though this is not the way it was recorded.

I seem to remember, that the percussion section of the Main Title was recorded completely separately from the rest of the orchestra, at another time.

Newman did not like the typical wide open sound of large cymbals. He wanted a big, but tight sound. Small cymbals would give a tight sound but not big enough. He had Special size cymbals made which were somewhat smaller the the big ones. They give a big but tight sound. The first time his new cymbals were used were on Presidents Lady. listen to the Main Title/prelude and you can hear them all the way through.
You also mention this was the time that studios were changing over from recording on optical film to mag sound (at least mag mono).
oddly, Fox did not do this.
The robe was not only the first Fox stereo recording, it was the first time they recorded on mag instead of optical !!
How much of Presidents Lady is in stereo ?

 
 Posted:   Dec 9, 2008 - 12:57 PM   
 By:   Gary S.   (Member)

A tremendous score. I saved it for the last out of the 4 new Varese club releases. Such range from heartbreaking sadness to action and everything that makes film music worth collecting and listening to.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 9, 2008 - 3:27 PM   
 By:   PFK   (Member)

Got my copy yesterday. A magnificent score! Alfred Newman at his best. Great sound quality too. Scores of this quality are sadly gone today. Thank you Nick Redman and everyone else involved!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2008 - 11:36 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)


Newman did not like the typical wide open sound of large cymbals. He wanted a big, but tight sound. Small cymbals would give a tight sound but not big enough. He had Special size cymbals made which were somewhat smaller the the big ones. They give a big but tight sound. The first time his new cymbals were used were on Presidents Lady. listen to the Main Title/prelude and you can hear them all the way through.


Thank you for that information Joe. I always wondered how Newman achieved that particular unique sound. In my estimation Newman is second only to Rozsa and I can only concur with others in expressing admiration for this outstanding score which has been unjustly neglected for so long. Those wonderfully distinctive Newman strings certainly get a major workout here. The score is a major discovery for me – I don’t ever recall seeing the film. I tend to favour notes which offer track by track analysis but in the absence of that approach one could hardly do better than have the originality and wit as evidenced by Julie Kirgo in her perceptive and entertaining liner notes.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2008 - 1:31 PM   
 By:   markbagby   (Member)

mark bagby.

The stereo for these tracks is a wonderful fluke.

Two sets of mikes were used - one set over the orchestra. a second set for the back of the hall to give some depth to the sound. These halls were small with almost no reverb of their own.

This is good. The mikes over the orchestra would capture the string sound better cuz in a dry hall the string sound doesn't carry very far.
Woodwinds carry farther and are captured equally on both sets of mikes.
HOrns shoot out farther and sound neareer to the rear mikes, even though they are not.
This makes it sound like a normal stereo strings left, winds middle and horns right, evden though this is not the way it was recorded.

I seem to remember, that the percussion section of the Main Title was recorded completely separately from the rest of the orchestra, at another time.

Newman did not like the typical wide open sound of large cymbals. He wanted a big, but tight sound. Small cymbals would give a tight sound but not big enough. He had Special size cymbals made which were somewhat smaller the the big ones. They give a big but tight sound. The first time his new cymbals were used were on Presidents Lady. listen to the Main Title/prelude and you can hear them all the way through.
You also mention this was the time that studios were changing over from recording on optical film to mag sound (at least mag mono).
oddly, Fox did not do this.
The robe was not only the first Fox stereo recording, it was the first time they recorded on mag instead of optical !!
How much of Presidents Lady is in stereo ?


Hi, Joe. I was always under the impression that Newman's orchestra used marching band cymbals, which are smaller, but...either way, it's an interesting, signature sound.

My comments on the recording itself were what I interpreted from a comment Michael Mattesino makes in the liner notes about separate elements. Your commentary leaves me with the impression that the two sets of mikes are all recorded on one track. Mattesino's quote indicates there are separate tracks, used to make a mono mixdown in those days. I didn't mean to imply Fox ever recorded in stereo on optical...but that the difference in the two separate tracks -- is due to the placement of the microphones. And then these two tracks are mixed together to make a fuller, richer sound. I don't know if Warners ever did these either, but Fox and Warners were miles ahead of everybody else's sound recording, to my ears at least.

The best part is all the elements survived and now we have it to continue to enjoy. My only disappointment from the whole Fox era is the 1940 "Mark of Zorro" doesn't exist. I do have to wonder if the 1974 TV version with Frank Langella, which Dominic Frontiere adapted and scored using the Newman/Friedhofer material, exists and in what condition. I haven't seen the remake in years (and it's pretty bad despite a decent performance by Frank Langella as Don Diego, and Ricardo Montalban makes for a pretty good Rathbone-villain), but I seem to remember the re-scoring as a fairly well done effort.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 1:15 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)


Mark, these are recorded on separate pieces of film ( and sometimes more).

Warners used this same process. So did Paramount, and smetimes Universal.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

..... I don't know if Warners ever did these either, but Fox and Warners were miles ahead of everybody else's sound recording, to my ears at least.....

The judgment of each studio's sound recording prowess is purely subjective. There are no rules. If you like it, the sound is good, if you don't like it, the sound is bad.

MGM was recording multi-tracks as early as 1933-1934 (and some of these tracks can be heard on CD compilations today). It may well be that the MGM Sound Department, under the much-maligned Douglas Shearer, invented the concept, since we've never heard evidence of any other studios doing this during this very early '30s period. Alfred Newman recorded at MGM in 1935. It's my contention that he adapted these ideas when he moved to Fox, and then Universal also used the process when they recorded Stokowski and Durbin for ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL in 1937.

In the case of judging each studio's "old" sound today, you are either hearing the "mix", subject to the studio's concepts of mixing--- which is a long way from the original recordings laid down---or, in the case of music session masters, you are hearing generational mix-downs or 50-70 year-old-deteriorated optical nitrate negatives or positives, warping and/or flaking early mag full-coat, or quarter-inch mag protection copies, some of which are on re-used stock, and, even glass or metal-based acetates. These are what "Golden Age" cds are made from today.

You can't really judge today what the recorded sound coming from the sound stage into the recording room was in, say, 1947, based on these ancient elements. We are lucky, however, that modern technology and talented technicians can preserve them and clean them up and make them presentable to most of us who enjoy these old scores.

 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 10:45 AM   
 By:   mxmx   (Member)

Obviously several microphones were used even back in the optical era, but there is no consistent documentation of exactly how many on each film or what submixes were made, if any. What's important here is that two mono stems were ultimately made, one close up and one long shot, for the purpose of having some flexibility in making the final composite mix that was heard in the film. The key here is not how the music was recorded, but what was RETAINED. In the case of this title and many of the Fox scores from the optical era, the two separate stems were archived, which facilitates the presentation of these scores in stereo when it sounds okay to do so.

Mike

 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 10:49 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

In the case of this title and many of the Fox scores from the optical era, the two separate stems were archived, which facilitates the presentation of these scores in stereo when it sounds okay to do so.

Mike



How fortunate we are to have some "golden ears" making those calls!!!

 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 11:58 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

When doing several of the Fox scores that had been preserved on 1/4" tape (from the optical cores), I had discovered that two angles of the same take had "drifted" differently and had to be first brought into exact equal time before matching for stereo. The near and far mike placements occasionally caused misleading markers due to ambient echo. At least with the original 35mm angles you could simply match up the sprockets!!

 
 Posted:   Dec 12, 2008 - 7:16 PM   
 By:   mxmx   (Member)

What a great job you did paving the way, Ray. The marvels of modern technology are now such that "elastic time" keeps everybody together! Additionally, original optical elements that sounded so-so years ago now sound pretty good thanks to advances in the transfer process. So while there were a few 1/4" back up elements used, most of the titles over the past couple of years came straight from the original elements.

Mike

 
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