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  • love_proper_strangerComposed by Elmer Bernstein
  • Kritzerland KR 20014-2 / 2009 / 77:09

I haven’t done the counting, but I doubt if many composers have been so well-represented in the remarkable run of releases of older film scores which has occurred over the past few years as Elmer Bernstein.  His scores from the 1950s and 60s were – with a handful of obvious exceptions – barely represented on disc at all a few years ago, but there has been a steady progression of releases.  Kritzerland has put together a pair of scores from the early 60s which have never been released in any format before – Love with the Proper Stranger and A Girl Named TamikoBoth films were made by big-name directors (Robert Mulligan and John Sturges respectively – you may be familiar with some of Bernstein’s music for their other films, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Magnificent Seven) but neither is particularly well-known today.  As the album producer Bruce Kimmel notes in the booklet, he fell in love with both scores when he first saw the films – and now that the Paramount vaults have been opened for soundtrack labels, he has finally been able to release them on CD.

Love with the Proper Stranger is a real gem of a score.  It’s ravenous, ravishing, romantic – absolutely gorgeous.  While the main title piece which opens the disc is anything but subtle (it’s a rapturous version of the main theme, which was also a song Bernstein wrote with Johnny Mercer for the film, though that isn’t on this album) the unused main title piece which follows is more typical of the score as a whole – slightly more restrained, gentle, subtle.  In any case, the music is truly beautiful – there are occasional moments of action but in general this is excellent scoring of an adult relationship.  Perhaps A Girl Named Tamiko isn’t quite such a delight, but it’s still a very strong score.  Again the main theme is based on a song for the film and again the song isn’t on the album (presumably for licensing reasons) – and again it’s splendid.  It’s a livelier, louder score than its companion on this disc, with some Pacific colour; but certainly not without its more reflective moments.  I’d never heard anything of either of these scores before – but both is excellent.  This is an essential album for Bernstein fans.  **** 1/2

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  1. ANDRÉ, Cape Town. (Reply) on Sunday 18 December, 2016 at 15:02

    To celebrate the 60th Anniversary release of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 Epic, ‘The Ten Commandments’, INTRADA have produced a 6 CD Boxed-Set of the score. ELMER was a mere 32 years old when Paramount Pictures invited him to compose source music for a court dance in Pharaoh’s glittering palace…an ethnic ‘tent’ dance for Jethro’s daughters and various chants for the Egyptians and Hebrews. VICTOR YOUNG, DeMille’s regular composer, would be creating the the underscore. But YOUNG was already involved with ‘Around the World in 80 days’ [for which he was, posthmously, awarded the OSCAR] and wasn’t keen on resuming a ‘strained’ relationship with DeMille. And so it was suggested by Paramount’s Music Director that ELMER take over composing duties. BERNSTEIN had just finished writing his hard-hitting Jazz score for ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ and heard that DeMille had attended a private screening of that movie. He was terrified that DeMille, after hearing his jazz themes for a heroin addict, would opt for a MIKLOS ROZSA or ALFRED NEWMAN, but DeMille admired the music for the Otto Preminger movie… “Don’t do anything like that in ‘The Ten Commandments” lectured DeMille. 1956 was the year that ELMER was to be regarded as an A-Lister! And ‘The Ten Commandments’ thematic based score is SUPERB. 3 CDs are devoted to the music tracks used in the film and includes unused cues AND piano theme demos performed by BERNSTEIN ….CD 4 is the 1957 Monaural Album release…CD 5 is the 1960 Stereophonic re-recording while CD 6 contains 1966’s new arrangements of selected themes by LEO SHUKEN & JACK HAYES conducted by BERNSTEIN. There are few composers working in the Industry today whose music will ever be honoured the way INTRADA have constellated this amazing score by the Great Elmer Bernstein. I pray that they spend a few hours listening to this music, and be inspired to emulate BERNSTEIN’S passion and love for FILM MUSIC.