Franz Waxman

Peyton Place [Original Score]

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Review

Franz Waxman's score for Peyton Place was a key element in what was an unexpectedly classy and well-made movie, made from what was generally regarded as a trashy bestseller. How it holds up as freestanding music is another matter, however, as this CD of the complete score illustrates. The sweetly sentimental main title theme, officially known as "Wonderful Season of Love," is familiar to television viewers who came along a decade after the 1957 movie. From the 1960s ABC prime-time drama of the same name, it reappears in several musical guises throughout this CD, most stirringly in the denouement, "Love Me, Michael: End Title." But there is somewhat more to recommend this recording. Waxman's writing for the string and reed instruments takes on a Copland-like beauty and simplicity on tracks such as "Hilltop Scene," and that eloquent, lyrical seven-minute piece by itself is worth the price of the disc. Other parts of the score, although very pretty to listen to, can seem a bit languid and dullish as pure music. Waxman's writing comes alive most strikingly on "The Rape," with its musical underscoring of the on-screen violence, which erupts suddenly; "Swimming Scene," a gentle tone poem to love and nature; "Allison's Decision," which features a beautiful passage for solo violin; and the somber, quasi-martial "Peyton Place Draftees." And some of the score, such as "Honor Roll," comes dangerously close to stealing from Copland. The recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Frederic Talgorn is superb, in clean, rich state-of-the-art sound. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi