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David Raksin at M-G-M (1950-1957)
Music by David Raksin
David Raksin at M-G-M David Raksin at M-G-M David Raksin at M-G-M
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $44.96
Limited #: 1500
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: February 2009
Catalog #: Vol. 12, No. 2
# of Discs: 5

Released by Special Arrangement With Turner Classic Movies Music.

Go here for the free online notes for this title.

David Raksin (1912–2004) was one of the greatest composers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and at long last there is a comprehensive collection of his work.

This lavish 5CD set is devoted to Raksin’s time at M-G-M from 1950–1952 and again in 1957. Eight complete scores are presented along with excerpts from five more—13 total. The discs are arranged loosely by genre:

Disc 1—Western: Across the Wide Missouri (1951)

Disc 2—Thriller: Kind Lady (1951) and The Man With a Cloak (1951)

Disc 3—Biopic: The Girl in White (1952) and The Magnificent Yankee (1950); also features cues from The Next Voice You Hear... (1950), Right Cross (1950) and Grounds for Marriage (1950). 

Disc 4—Drama: The Vintage (1957) and A Lady Without Passport (1950).

Disc 5—Romance: Until They Sail (1957), Pat and Mike (1952) and The Reformer and the Redhead (1950).

Golden Age collectors may be familiar with Raksin’s style from his classic scores such as Laura, The Bad and the Beautiful and Forever Amber. However, given the paucity of his CD releases, it is understandable if many fans are not. Raksin was a highly advanced and modern composer with a gift for making complicated and dense orchestrations sound direct and accessible to the ear. Although highly intellectual, he was devoted to melody and the baker’s dozen of scores on this collection shine with beautiful tunes, from the romantic strains of The Vintage to the moody and captivating Man With a Cloak

The documentation for this project is so extensive that it could not be contained in the CD booklet or online notes alone. The CD booklet contains an essay by Raksin’s friend and scholar Marilee Bradford (with information from his personal papers) and producer’s note by Lukas Kendall; while the FSM website houses—for free—complete liner notes for each film with track-by-track commentary.

This collection is almost entirely in monaural sound; extensive restoration work has been done to the magnetic film, optical film and acetate sources for a smooth listening experience. The 5CD set is packaged in what would normally be a 3CD “butterfly” or “clamshell” jewel box with the additional discs stored on hinged trays. The 36-page booklet is illustrated not only with copious movie posters and stills but rare Raksin photographs for a “scrapbook” type of presentation. 

For a composer who gave the best and demanded the best, we have hopefully given the best. This 5CD, six-hour presentation is limited to 1,500 copies. 

David Raksin Scores on FSM
About the Composer

David Raksin (1912-2004) came to Hollywood to orchestrate and arrange for Charlie Chaplin on Modern Times; his lengthy career encompassed such classics as Laura and The Bad and the Beautiful. His dense, intellectual but beautifully intricate music pushed the boundaries of musical and cinematic expression and won him legions of admirers; he was also involved behind the scenes in composers' organizations, film music preservation and academia. Very little of his copious and high-quality film work is available on CD, but FSM has attempted to rectify that with releases such as the 5CD set, David Raksin at M-G-M. IMDB

Comments (60):Log in or register to post your own comments
This is just plain HISTORIC, no question.

The great thing about Raksin's music is there's always more to hear in future listenings. Always.

I've long looked forward to hearing THE MAN WITH A CLOAK since one source called it "the first film to employ the 12-tone scale in its scoring" and went on to say "David Raksin's music is fittingly sinister."

I am ordering this title N-O-W.

Hey, this has got the Toy Concertino! I've only seen that as printed concert music. I'm looking forward to hearing that!

I got mine last night and found that the sound was surprisingly crisp and clear.

I started out by searching for source music, since I thought he did really great arrangement for small dance ensembles. Skipping around I didn't find much, but did learn that this release has a LOT of his prettiest music. It was very nice to hear.

I was only able to get through GROUNDS FOR MARRIAGE and THE GIRL IN WHITE. The concertino was a very fun little piece (too little! I look forward to hearing the long version one day).

GIRL was written in a style very much in keeping with the MGM style of sweet string melodies - a welcome change from the score I'm used to hearing from him.

Only 5 and 1/2 more hours of listening to go!

A small-but-interesting fact that did not make it into the notes on THE REFORMER AND THE REDHEAD (1950) is that the main theme got re-used in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952).

If you listen to "Smoke That Cigarette" from the latter (apparently not used in the final film), you'll hear a very nice dance arrangement of the tune (for only 29 seconds, sadly).

This set is so well produced and the scores are as good as one would expect from the composer. It surprises me that it has not sold out at 1500 copies, but Raksin, like Rosenman is not a mass appeal composer.

It is a tremendous set for us golden age fans. Those that like sonic wallpaper will not enjoy it. It has this rare concept called melody. :) As does the Mandel Trio which I play as often as I play the Raksin.

It surprises me that it has not sold out at 1500 copies

With a $60 pricetag, I'm not particularly surprised. Hell, those marvellous Intrada Amazing Stories sets still haven't sold out after three years, and those cost half what the Raksin set does.


We knew this would be a tough sell especially during these tough economic times but it was important to us to do it.

Lukas

This box set is a treasure, and when it does go out of print, with only 1500 copies around, it will truly be a real and valuable collector's item.

I've seen all the films whose scores are collected here, some nearly 60 years ago. They were/are all quality productions, with major stars, and in the typical MGM high-gloss style. I enjoyed them all then, as well as those I've seen again in recent years, though some hold your continuing interest more than others. This box also reflects an unexpressed tribute to the massive variety of subjects and genres that Hollywood was turning out on a regular basis in those days. It will never happen here again.

I have been listening to this set systematically, savoring each disc.

I can remember seeing ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI in 1951 when I was 11. Its gorgeous location Technicolor photography and score impressed me then, but it seemed short on running time for the kind of story that was developing. It was a few years later that I found out how drastically the film had been altered in the final cut before its release. This score CD at least gives us a small glimpse of what that film MIGHT have been like. I am tremendously impressed by Raksin's work on it---and beyond the action cues, there are just gorgeous melodic sections relating primarily to Gable's love affair with the character played by actress Maria Elena Marques. This score is highly recommended to fans of the western genre. Much of it has that "open spaces" feel which was so cliche in western scores, BUT WHICH IS SO RIGHT---you actually DO feel that way when you're out in the wilds of the American West. (I'd like to make a special note here that though I've forgotten precisely all those who did the orchestrations for this title, they are absolutely spectacular.)

For years I've been calling on Lukas to combine Raksin's scores for KIND LADY and MAN WITH A CLOAK onto one disc---and he finally did. KIND LADY is a fascinating drama---ripe for a contemporary remake---with a wonderful period score which is, on the whole quite melodic, fitting the upbeat character, however put-upon, played by Ethel Barrymore. I love it! In a very different vein is MAN WITH A CLOAK, a score bringing out the more intellectual and experimental musical side of Raksin. This is a more difficult listen than LADY, but what a fascinating combination these two scores, by one composer, make on one disc. They give just a small indication of how versatile the composer of yesterday had to be in his assignments---sometimes one coming right after the next.

I was very surprised by THE GIRL IN WHITE. I've seen the movie in recent years and I hadn't remembered it as being quite so lighthearted and requiring such a melodic score. It is lovely, but seems very different from Raksin's other work on this set, and yet it's another indicator of his wide-ranging abilities.

The "Toy Concertino" from GROUNDS FOR MARRIAGE is charming---somehow it reminds me of something Bronislau Kaper might turn out---and, in fact, Kaper was the composer of record on GROUNDS FOR MARRIAGE, so maybe that was the point. It was wonderful to hear it again in this fidelity, though I HAVE been listening to "Toy Concertino" regularly for the 58 years since I bought the soundtrack album for the film in 1951.

I'm slow at absorbing all of these new releases so I've only sampled some of the other material on this box and won't comment yet (but I am already enthralled with Eydie Gorme's singing of the title song from UNTIL THEY SAIL---beautiful.!)

I hope those who are sitting on the fence about this release will go ahead and make that purchase. You will be rewarded musically, with great variety, AND it really IS a great deal. Not only is it fabulous, classic filmmusic, but it's on 5 discs, making them only $12 apiece!!! Whatta deal!!!

I second Manderley's opinion of this set. Raksin's versatility is mindboggling. My personal favorite in the set is UNTIL THEY SAIL. I've played it over and over.

Speaking of Raksin, I watched SEPARATE TABLES the other night on MGM HD. Another fine Raksin score I would like to own. Does anyone know if the original recordings still exist?

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Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits
For more specific musician lists for the scores on this album, go here:
Grounds for Marriage
Pat And Mike
The Girl In White
The Next Voice You Hear
The Reformer and the Redhead
The Vintage
Until They Sail

Leader (Conductor):
Johnny Green, David Raksin

Violin:
Samuel Albert, Rocco Barbieri, Dave Crocov, Sam Fiedler, Sam Freed, Jr., Werner L. Gebauer, Ernest Gill, Saul Grant, Sidney Greene, Mort Herbert, Arnold T. Jurasky, Sol Kindler, Bernard Kundell, Mark Levant, Louis Limonick, Joy Lyle (Sharp), Arthur Maebe, Sr., Lisa Minghetti, Emanuel Moss, Jaime Overton, Irving Prager, Lou Raderman, Albert Saparoff, Herman Seidel, Al Vertchamp, Dorothy M. Wade (Sushel), Eunice Wennermark, Byron Williams

Viola:
Cecil Figelski, Allan Harshman, Virginia Majewski, Reuben Marcus, Germain Prevost

Cello:
James A. Arkatov, Alexander Borisoff, Alex Bunchuk, Julian Kahn, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Fernand Lhoest, Edgar Lustgarten, Michel Penha

Bass:
George F. Boujie, Louis Previati, Arthur Shapiro, Charles Smith

Flute:
Aaron Gershunoff, Arthur Gleghorn

Oboe:
Arnold Koblentz, Philip Memoli

Clarinet:
George Auld, Gus Bivona, Mort B. Friedman, Alex Gershunoff, Don Lodice (Logiudice), D. H. McKenney, Hugo Raimondi, Andrew Young

Bassoon:
Charles A. Gould

French Horn:
John W. "Jack" Cave, Vincent DeRubertis, Herman Lebow

Trumpet:
Uan Rasey, Irvin Shulkin, Joe Triscari, James C. Zito

Trombone:
Walter Benson, Nick DiMaio, Herb Taylor, Bud Youngman, Simon Zentner

Piano:
Harry Frohman, Jacob Gimpel, Max Rabinowitsh, Milton Raskin

Guitar:
Lud Bonkowski, Jack Marshall, Vincent Terri

Harp:
Mary Jane Barton, Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk), Paula Schertzinger Chaloupka

Accordion:
Carl Fortina, Fred Travers

Drums:
Frank L. Carlson, Mel Pedesky, D. V. Seber

Orchestra Manager:
James C. Whelan

© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.