The best classical film music albums of 2021


Soundtrack labels continued to flourish in 2021, uncovering old film scores worth preserving and developing classics to meet 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 lead the way. bestseller and bestseller list. Packaged classic film music released within the last 12 months.

In alphabetical order:

Bandits in Rome (Quartet). This very first musical release of the 1968 Italian crime film with 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 as co-composer).

Bernard Herrmann: The soundtracks of the film on phase 4 (Decca). Perhaps the film soundtrack 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 and arranged by the composer: music for classics (“Citizen Kane ”), sci-fi and fantastic (“ Fahrenheit 451 ”), Hitchcock (“ Psycho ”), De Palma (“ Obsession ”), as well as music by other composers (“ Hamlet ”by Shostakovich,“ Things to Come “by Bliss). They have never sounded so good and each record is contained in a sleeve that reproduces the original illustrations and notes.

Cabo Blanco (La-La Land). A Charles Bronson movie that tried to be “Casablanca,” this 1980 action flick also boasted of Jason Robards and Dominique Sanda – and a rich, Latin-flavored Jerry Goldsmith score, probably better than this movie. obscure of J. Lee Thompson did not deserve.

Anne Frank’s Diary (La-La Land). The complete edition of one of Alfred Newman’s best sheet music, his 1959 Oscar nominated music for George Stevens’ moving Holocaust story, finally released. 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 sanction (Intrada). Clint Eastwood’s 1975 climbing thriller is all but forgotten today, but it’s special for two reasons: it’s possibly the most dangerous role Eastwood (who also directed) has ever taken on, 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 savor. (Full disclosure: cover notes from yours truly.)

Face of a fugitive / the public eye (Intrada). The discovery of two rare Jerry Goldsmith scores at opposite ends of his career was remarkable. The first is a forgotten 1959 Fred MacMurray western; the second, the music for a 1992 crime thriller starring Joe Pesci which was recorded and then rejected by its director. It’s an unexpected treat to have both on CD now.

violin on the roof (La-La Land). John Williams won his first Oscar for the Broadway musical adaptation for the 1971 film by Norman Jewison. Commemorating the film’s 50th anniversary, this three-disc expansion features the soundtrack album as well as dozens of instrumental and alternative versions of lines. Hearing Topol again as Tevye, Isaac Stern’s violin solos and timeless songs like “Sunrise, Sunset”, as well as an essay detailing the full history of the production and its music, make it a hit. unavoidable.

Pictures (Quartet). John Williams’ most avant-garde score, for a 1972 Robert Altman film about a schizophrenic author (Susannah York), receives a sound upgrade and a beautifully illustrated booklet with the newly discovered sleeve notes by Williams for the ‘proposed 1972 soundtrack album that failed to materialize when the film failed at the box office.

Legend (Music box records). Ridley Scott’s 1985 fantasy inspired one of Jerry Goldsmith’s greatest scores, and this two-disc set contains more of it than ever before. This orchestral and choral work, embellished with song and dance, was replaced by the techno-pop Tangerine Dream for the American release of the film; the original became a famous cause when fans later found out about it.

Lionheart (Varèse 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 and symphonic score was the best thing about it, and this two-disc set (83 minutes of music) must be taken as final.

Massada (Intrada). When Jerry Goldsmith’s Emmy-winning sheet music for this acclaimed mini-series 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 containing music by Morton Stevens, two and a half hours of music) came out. Now we have a four disc set containing all of the original score, lots of unreleased lines and alternatives, and the re-recording of the MCA album.

The matrix (Varèse Sarabande). With “The Matrix Resurrections” in theaters now, the time has come for a reassessment of Don Davis’ groundbreaking, complex, and post-modernist score for the original 1999 film. This two-disc set is billed as “The Edition”. complete ”, 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 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 candidate for their 13th film, “Parallel Mothers”). Includes: “All About My Mother”, “Talk to Her”, “Pain and Glory”, “Bad Education” 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 fitting: Henry Mancini’s last 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 plenty of melodic and light musical moments for the films starring Peter Sellers, Ted Was and Roberto Benigni.

The private life of Sherlock Holmes (Quartet). Billy Wilder was so in love with Miklós Rózsa’s 1953 violin concerto that he asked the composer to adapt it into 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 “fantasy” from 1977 on these themes with the soloist of the film Erich Gruenberg.

Shamus (Intrada). Burt Reynolds played a private investigator in this light-hearted 1973 thriller, and Jerry Goldsmith’s fun, 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 sheet music, one that ultimately landed her a platinum album. This restoration and expansion of the original LP contains all of the recorded notes for the 1980 film, and the libretto includes Seymour’s reminiscences of Barry and his involvement in 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 starred in this combination of romantic drama and Cold War thriller, which echoes some of Barry’s darker James Bond scores of the time.

The Time Tunnel, Vol. 1 and 2 (La-La Land). Granted, guilty pleasure, Irwin Allen’s 1966-1967 time travel TV series could be either thrilling or silly, depending on the episode. These two volumes, six hours of music on six discs, feature quality work by Leith Stevens, Lyn Murray and George Duning, all fantasy and sci-fi veterans of the 1950s and 1960s, but the head of The poster naturally goes to “Johnny” Williams, the future genius of “Star Wars” whose suspenseful score for the pilot still counts among his best works for television.

One and the other (Play Time) The epic of French filmmaker Claude Lelouch in 1981 achieved an extraordinary musical feat: a score by two of the greatest French 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.