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Bride of Frankenstein [LP]
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  • Franz Waxman's score for James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein has held up better than almost any other movie music of the 1930s. In addition to their association with the movie for which they were composed, major parts of Waxman's score later turned up in the Flash Gordon serials (like The Bride of Frankenstein, made at Universal), especially Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, and fragments also showed up in various westerns and B-thrillers. With its strange, sweeping yet disquieting melodies and unusual timbres, it was some of the most ambitious music ever written for the screen -- indeed, if Max Steiner's score to King Kong made that movie into a "symphony accompanied by a motion picture," in the words of composer-pianist Oscar Levant, then Waxman's music for The Bride of Frankenstein gave that movie the impact and sweep of a Wagnerian opera (although the finale recalls the Mahler "Symphony No. 2"). The Silva Screen recording of the score, by Kenneth Alwyn and the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra, is the best representation that Waxman's music has ever had, restoring some sections that were lost to the last-minute pre-release editing of the original film -- the only complaint in the treatment is the use of a synthesizer to enhance certain sections of the score; the instrument's presence is momentary but jarring in those moments. The CD includes a six minute suite of Waxman's music for The Invisible Ray as a bonus , the only other fantasy film that he scored while at Universal; it isn't in the same league as The Bride of Frankenstein's score, but it is entertaining. ~ Bruce Eder
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