Latest reviews of new albums:
Freud
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL 1209 1102 / 2009 / 47:21

Montgomery Clift played Freud in John Huston’s 1962 biopic, a project the legendary filmmaker had wanted to make for a long time.  It charts the years in which Freud formulated his famous Oedipus Complex theory and was well-received at the time, also featuring performances from Susannah York, Larry Parks and a young David McCallum.  The original screenplay was, incredibly, by Jean-Paul Sartre, but after lots of cuts were made to that, he demanded that his name be withdrawn from the credits.

While ultimately Huston’s film may have been a little watered-down compared with his original vision, there is nothing vaguely watered-down about its music, composed by the then up-and-coming Jerry Goldsmith, fresh from his success with Lonely are the Brave.  It earned the composer his first Oscar nomination.  It’s very hard to imagine any film made in Hollywood today having music as unfailingly modern as this; that one could do almost fifty years ago shows what progress we’ve made.

A youthful Jerry Goldsmith

Huston choose to make his film in black-and-white, and one could certainly say there’s more than a noirish hint to Goldsmith’s music – it’s unsettling, sometimes creepy, a turbulent study of the human mind.  Don’t come here expecting melody – this is one of the most uncompromisingly atonal scores of the composer’s career.  The one exception is the childlike lullaby which appears in a few cues – and that itself is used in a particularly creepy way.

It’s scarcely believable that Goldsmith was so confident, so early in his career, to write a score like this.  It is so fiercely intelligent, the product of such deliberate design; needless to say, those whose Goldsmith tendencies are more towards Rudy or Air Force One are unlikely to enjoy it, but those more drawn towards his more daring earlier works will find one of the most impressive of those.  Psychological music like this is certainly not for everyone – but this challenging album (an expansion of the old LP) is one which reveals so much with every listen.  ****

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