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 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 11:46 AM   
 By:   Browny   (Member)

Hi Everyone. Just something I am curious about. Personally speaking I would prefer an original recording to a re-recording anyday, although I am not doubting the integrity of the many re-recordings that have flooded the market in recent years. Especially when recording techniques have improved so dramatically in the digital age. But considering that some titles may never be issued in their proper form due to the complexity of embryonic copyright precedents and the legalities of ownership, is a re-recording of a rare or out of print score any substitution? Just think of the many scores you would love to own, that may never see the light of day on CD. Would a re-recording be preferable to what we really want? Thoughts please.

 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 11:49 AM   
 By:   DOGBELLE   (Member)

a good rerecording is better than nothing.
but i think they lose the feel of the original.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 1:10 PM   
 By:   FalkirkBairn   (Member)

On the whole I would look for the original recordings but where originals were not available then I would be happy with the re-recording.

Most interesting is having both the original and the re-recording. A good example is the score to THE EGYPTIAN. I have both the FSM and Marco Polo recordings. In this case, they complement each other well and provide together (I would think) the majority of the score.

Sometimes it is interesting (?) how the original compares to a more recent re-recording. I can't think of a case (due to my ignorance - I am sure there are some) where the re-recording is terrible compared to the original (and vis versa?).

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 2:06 PM   
 By:   estgrey   (Member)

I don't think it's fair to make a universal pronouncement in favor of or opposition to re-recordings. One really must take them on a case by case basis. If the original performance of a score is lost, apparently as is Quo Vadis, or effectively lost (the sound is so bad that large parts can scarcely be heard), then a re-recording is certainly a reasonable alternative – at least in concept. A genuine archival sound, even with brilliant re-mastering, usually takes some getting used to on the part of the listener, and may never be acceptable to some people. (Even if you do get to appreciate the qualities of archival recordings, if you want to make a compilation tape for your car, mixing from older and more modern sources can produce a juxtaposition that is rather jarring.)

The chief problem with most re-recordings, aside from issues of financing, seems to be getting the performance to equal the original. This is particularly true for older scores, which speak to us from another time and have their own style. The first concern is getting a conductor who is willing to subjugate his own instincts to imitate those of someone else. (Unless you are doing concert suites, I am taking the position that a re-recording should attempt to re-create the original as much as possible. In some cases it may be desirable to improve upon the original, but this should be the exception rather than the rule.) Joel McNeely, Bruce Broughton and some others have done reasonably well at this, although as you can tell from other threads here, not everyone is happy with their results. Stromberg has generally done better and with greater consistency, I think. (It would actually be very interesting to hear his and John Morgan's thoughts on this topic, but I suppose that is just wishful thinking.) Several people have commented on how particularly difficult it is to capture the approach of some of the older conductors, especially Alfred Newman. It may also be interesting to note that although Gerhardt really had his own sensibilities, which are present in his recordings, he seemed to have an overall sense that fits our preconceptions well enough to pass as authentic – and who can really argue with what he managed to produce? (There are very few clunkers in that series.)

The second, and perhaps the greater trouble seems to be getting an orchestra of comparable size, composition and skill. Financial reasons tend to mean today that a re-recording will be done by some obscure European orchestra or pick-up ensemble rather than a top-drawer group. This is by no means the slight it may seem at first blush. Naxos has been very successful in classical repertory with exactly this sort of approach. (Some of their CDs rival the standard offerings of the more mainstream recordings. In fact, I seem to recall seeing somewhere that Naxos now has the lion's share of the market in classical recordings, at least by number sold and deservedly so. Unfortunately, even they are raising prices, but that is another topic.) Still, film music has its own demands and I have certainly heard otherwise very fine orchestras struggle, and even fail, at playing it well.

The loss of the studio system pretty much ended the general practice of a group of musicians who were regularly brought together and were more or less dedicated to playing this sort of music, and often for the same composers and conductor(s). (The war not only displaced some great composers but great musicians as well, and Hollywood certainly benefitted from this influx. Ultimately that fact might grant an edge to a European group since some of those classical sensibilities are already present.) The Marco Polo series has a particular advantage in having selected one orchestra and reusing it for multiple CDs. Over time, they have refined their style to capture much of that famous Hollywood sound, which you can really hear developing. You might even say that they have recreated their own version of the studio system.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 2:37 PM   
 By:   estgrey   (Member)

Someone asked about a re-recording which was terrible compared to the original. A curious example, I think, is the Sedares re-recording of The Magnificent Seven, which is so lackluster as to qualify as at least approaching terrible to me. The original tracks on the old RYKO label are perfectly acceptable, and capture a much more lively performance. Bernstein's own re-recording of essentially the same material, however, is truly wonderful and deserves much greater circulation. This music really lives or dies in the interpretation. (There may be something about having to adjust to fit the timing of the scenes in the film that gives the music a dimension that we can sense is missing in a performance that is not constrained by such considerations.)

In another thread about re-recordings, the Silva series was mentioned. A specific example of their recent Fantasy Album should serve as an example of the strengths and weaknesses of that series. The sound is generally excellent and the performances are always at least competent and professional. The selection of material will, of course, never please everyone and usually includes a few dubious choices. (Here, they have done a better-than-usual job, but does "Gladiator" really belong on a Fantasy Album? Does it really belong on any album? . . . but I digress.)

As I have already noted, this music relies heavily on a host of details in a performance. The emotional aspect of most film music often depends on the timings and a sound which is particularly fitting for that piece or section. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra often plays well enough, hitting the right notes in the right sequence, but without that extra something that makes the music come alive. The selection from Harry Potter is generally pretty good, until towards the end where the horns lose their sharpness and the playing seems very perfunctory. The Lord of the Rings excerpt, on the other hand, is utterly bland, lacking the requisite conviction and feeling. Ultimately there is an undesirably homogenized effect – in some way, in spite of the variety of scores, they all start to sound a little alike. Even Conan the Barbarian becomes downright civilized. A similar problem plagues their versions of Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts, although their take on the "Overture" from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, a very difficult piece, is actually surprisingly good.

In the end, these compilations usually present a mish-mash of material and performances which may or may not deserve a place on the shelf with your other soundtracks. Of course, it has been argued, and no doubt will be again, that these albums are designed for a broad audience that includes mostly non-film music fans. While true enough on its own, this position is ultimately no consolation to those of us who are film music fans and demand something more of what we are offered to get excited about it. It also does not exempt these albums from our criticism, even though it will certainly fall on deaf ears (admittedly an awkward metaphor since this is a print medium, but the idea is sufficiently appropriate).

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 3:23 PM   
 By:   michael f   (Member)

On the other hand...

Remember how small and clipped the score for THE FURY sounded in the film itself? Like a tiny orchestra was performing the music in a closet?

The soundtrack re-recording -- while essentially the same music note for note -- is much fuller, more epic, bolder.

 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 6:26 PM   
 By:   JJH   (Member)

I don't subscribe to the notion that a re-recording needs to match the original.

There's just no way.
You're not recording for a film; it's music you're recording.

In many cases, you're using an inferior orchestra to that which was used for the original soundtrack. Musicianship may abound, but technical performance may be found lacking.

I listen to film scores because I think the MUSIC, first and foremost, stands on it's own. Much of film music is bursting with creativity, even while musically, it is a bit backward looking, brimming with romance.
Otherwise, there is no point to being a collector. If the performance is solid, I'm all for re-recordings.

Did anyone here ever play film music excerpts in band or orchestra? Ever notice that you never sound like Malcolm McNab or Phil Smith, or that your particular ensemble never quite sounded like the LSO doing Star Wars?

same thing here. Different circumstances entirely, and I think it's rather inane to think you're ever going to "match" the power, or lack thereof, of an original soundtrack.

Music has to be taken on it's own terms when you're not watching the movie it's attached to.


NP -- Franz Waxman, Vol. 4

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2002 - 10:52 PM   
 By:   MichaelM   (Member)

A well-performed and well-recorded re-recording (like the ones from Marco Polo or Varese) is perfectly fine with me.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2002 - 5:34 PM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

Some re-recordings are terrible. Try to sit through Leroy Holmes's 70's lp re-recording of Newman's score for PRISONER OF ZENDA. Awful. I'm not too thrilled with the Sedares EL CID, either, which doesn't seem to have the requisite passion, somehow. The Varese series is pretty good: their VERTIGO was good, better than 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. Bruce Broughton did a bang-up job with IVANHOE, and, especially, JULIUS CAESAR, which I sometimes think is actually better than the original; it certainly has more music. And Morgan/Stromberg have done a particularly stellar job in their releases. All told, I'd say theirs are the best efforts.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2002 - 5:50 PM   
 By:   Jostein   (Member)

I don't see why the original recording is by default superior to any re-recording.

Also, a good re-recording doesn't necessarily have to be 100% identical to the original, in fact I think it's very interesting to hear different interpretations of great music. I prefer the Superman and Jaws originals, but it's nice to have Varese's re-recordings, since they do offer other interpretations of the music.

Another thing that re-recordings have going for them, is of course sound quality. Personally, I can't stand mono sound, and would probably purchase a stereo re-recording over a mono original (given that the performance of the re-recording is good)

And let me just say: I have never bothered to pick up the original Vertigo recording, simply because McNeely's interpretation is all I could ever need.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2002 - 7:44 PM   
 By:   Melvin Stephens   (Member)

John Archibald, glad to see your view on this. Just sent you an email about an hour ago. I brought this topic up on the James Bond subject, wanting the original vs. re-recording and in chronological order and of course, was called a fanboy. Very glad to see people here are discussing this without calling names.

Once again, most happy to see my feelings being expressed here. Last of the Mohicans, is (for me) a good example. The re-recorded cues, for the cd, are nothing like what is heard in the movie.

 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2002 - 10:05 PM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Both are great.

However, if you're doing a re-recording, don't dress it up like it's true to the original score if you're going to present it as something else -- like a concertized or "reinterpreted" version of the score.

If you're going to do the score and use artwork from the film and present all the cues, try to do justice to the composer and the way the music was performed in the film.

 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2002 - 12:16 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

I don't see why the original recording is by default superior to any re-recording.

Also, a good re-recording doesn't necessarily have to be 100% identical to the original, in fact I think it's very interesting to hear different interpretations of great music. I prefer the Superman and Jaws originals, but it's nice to have Varese's re-recordings, since they do offer other interpretations of the music.

Another thing that re-recordings have going for them, is of course sound quality. Personally, I can't stand mono sound, and would probably purchase a stereo re-recording over a mono original (given that the performance of the re-recording is good)

And let me just say: I have never bothered to pick up the original Vertigo recording, simply because McNeely's interpretation is all I could ever need.


Are you the Jostein I think you might be? If so, long time no hear! And if not, welcome aboard anyhow.

Thank you for your comments. Certainly no offense intended, I can't help but observe that there is among the younger soundtrack-collecting crowd an affliction which for lack of a better term I could call "Star Wars Syndrome" -- an aversion to less-than-perfect recordings (mono, low-fi or whatever) which, though understandable (I prefer good sound to poor sound myself, make no mistake), excludes the possibility of appreciating original soundtracks to the great majority of classic film scores ever recorded! As a survivor of the vinyl soundtrack era, my tolerance for what remains from less technically sophisticated days of old is pretty wide.

Unlike yourself, I have a real "thing" for the composer's interpretation and typically high energy of the original score recording, and didn't much care (for example) what Joel McNeely's interpretations of Williams' JAWS or SUPERMAN scores might be, when the original tracks were being released simultaneously. That's just me, of course, and all viewpoints are welcome.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2002 - 8:37 AM   
 By:   Jostein   (Member)



Are you the Jostein I think you might be? If so, long time no hear! And if not, welcome aboard anyhow.


Hi there, Dana! Yes, this is Jostein Hakestad smile Long time no hear indeed. Hope you're doing all right!



Thank you for your comments. Certainly no offense intended, I can't help but observe that there is among the younger soundtrack-collecting crowd an affliction which for lack of a better term I could call "Star Wars Syndrome" -- an aversion to less-than-perfect recordings (mono, low-fi or whatever) which, though understandable (I prefer good sound to poor sound myself, make no mistake), excludes the possibility of appreciating original soundtracks to the great majority of classic film scores ever recorded! As a survivor of the vinyl soundtrack era, my tolerance for what remains from less technically sophisticated days of old is pretty wide.


I can understand that. And of course, if the *only* thing available is a fuzzy mono recording, then I'll settle for that.

By the way, I think "Star Wars Syndrome" is a pretty accurate diagnosis for me smile


Unlike yourself, I have a real "thing" for the composer's interpretation and typically high energy of the original score recording, and didn't much care (for example) what Joel McNeely's interpretations of Williams' JAWS or SUPERMAN scores might be, when the original tracks were being released simultaneously. That's just me, of course, and all viewpoints are welcome.


In those two cases, if you're going to buy only *one* version, the originals are far superior. But I just find it interesting to hear different "versions" of the music that I like.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2002 - 11:21 AM   
 By:   Les Jepson   (Member)

The debate about this recording versus that recording is eternal. It's been going on in the "classical" arena for many decades. I remember buying the RCA LP of Eric Leinsdorf's and the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Prokofiev Symphony No. 3 back in the mid-sixties. Alternative versions of this strange and terrifying work were very few and far between then (not so many now, come to think of it). Since then I've bought others which I am assured have superior sound and better performances. But there's something about that old RCA LP that for me outshines all the subsequent versions.

I think it's the same with film scores. The first version you hear always seems to have the edge on any others that follow. The first hearing, whether it's music in a film, a classical recording, a pop record, or a concert performance, becomes nailed into the subconscious as the definitive representation.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2002 - 1:38 AM   
 By:   Melvin Stephens   (Member)

'The first version you hear always seems to have the edge on any others that follow.'

This, is one of those things, which is so obvious, and, if not, overlooked on the part of many others, surely is being overlooked by myself. A good example of this, is the eternal debate, concerning what happened with the 2001 Space Odyssey score. A lover of Alex North's music, but ... since being conditioned to what Kubrick did, I hear that. Some have said, they play the North version, with the sound turned down on the film. Must try that sometime.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2002 - 2:27 AM   
 By:   Ford A. Thaxton   (Member)

I'll toss in some random thoughts and comments on re-recordings that might stir the pot.

The idea of putting out the original soundtrack as heard in the film wasn't all that common until the late 70's/early 80's. Before then a number of soundtrack albums were re-recordings to start with.

Among the better known include THE GREAT ESCAPE,THE SWARM,CAPRICORN ONE, WILD ROVERS,etc...

so some of our most beloved CD are not the soundtrack recording.

Also the the idea that the soundtrack recording is the BEST RECORDING is not something that the composers of these works agree with.

Everyone here ASSUMES that the every original soundtrack recording is performed by the greatest musicians under Ideal conditions....

That is not the case.

A few good examples include THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, VERTIGO, THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD,HIGH SPIRTS and many others.

all of them could or have benefited from new recordings.

IMHO of course.


Ford A. Thaxton

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2002 - 5:13 PM   
 By:   WesllDeckers   (Member)

I thought Goldmith was more happy with Damiens rerecording...
John Williams likes toying with his scores for album release.

Still though, I prefer the originals as they were performed as INTENDED for the movie (or at least the closest thing to the intentions).

It's like with Stravinsky's music: the ones that he conducted himself will have that little extra for me that recordings conducted by others don't have: namely the fact that Stravinsky conducted them himself!!

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2002 - 5:54 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

I'll toss in some random thoughts and comments on re-recordings that might stir the pot.

The idea of putting out the original soundtrack as heard in the film wasn't all that common until the late 70's/early 80's. Before then a number of soundtrack albums were re-recordings to start with.

Among the better known include THE GREAT ESCAPE,THE SWARM,CAPRICORN ONE, WILD ROVERS,etc...

so some of our most beloved CD are not the soundtrack recording.

Also the the idea that the soundtrack recording is the BEST RECORDING is not something that the composers of these works agree with.

Everyone here ASSUMES that the every original soundtrack recording is performed by the greatest musicians under Ideal conditions....

That is not the case.

A few good examples include THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, VERTIGO, THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD,HIGH SPIRTS and many others.

all of them could or have benefited from new recordings.

IMHO of course.


Ford A. Thaxton


Good points, all. I remember the long line of United Artists "soundtracks" from the 60's, every one a rerecording by a smaller orcherstra (though most were at least conducted by the composer).

I think it is true in general that we often prefer the version we hear first. The first version of ISLAND IN THE STREAM I heard was the actual soundtrack main title, from a horrible-sounding old boot LP compilation (even the bleating of the goats was included)! I know that Goldsmith himself disliked the orchestral performance on the original score recording, and gave a ringing endorsement to the Intrada rerecording of same issued on CD a few years ago. I vastly prefer the original soundtrack recording over the Intrada version, which sounds sterile and wrongly-paced to me. I consider the original to have worked tremendously well in the film, and when I listen to it I am swept up in the mood and drama of the film. I like it when film music does that!

I disagree with the "given" which seems implicit in many of your responses, that if the composer himself thinks something is better a certain way, then it's better, end of discussion. I'm not sure what "better" really means, but I do find that in most instances when a comparison is possible, for me the original performances are far more satisfying than the composer's rearrangements of the same material. I've read quotes from many composers which state quite forthrightly that the hope in restructuring the music was to reach a wider audience (rather than to render a faithful representation of the score as used in the film). Consequently, the "better" version is often very disappointing to me, regardless of what the composer may think.

After all those years of rerecorded score albums (and I'll admit that some were not so badly done), I have been very excited at the recent releases of so many actual OSTs. How wonderful it would be to have the Rhino BEN-HUR treatment given to EL CID and a bunch of other great scores that have really only ever been heard in their rerecorded versions.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2002 - 7:13 PM   
 By:   Ford A. Thaxton   (Member)

I thought Goldmith was more happy with Damiens rerecording...
John Williams likes toying with his scores for album release.

Still though, I prefer the originals as they were performed as INTENDED for the movie (or at least the closest thing to the intentions).


But whose INTENTIONS?

Remember what you hear in the film can be vastly different from what the composer wanted, thnigs get but about,changed,watered down,etc during the recording process by directors,producers and studio types.

What you hear in the film is their vison of the score, not the compoers many times.

So whose vison do you go for?


Ford A. Thaxton

 
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