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The Silver Chalice (1954)
Music by Franz Waxman
The Silver Chalice The Silver Chalice
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $24.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: September 2007
Catalog #: Vol. 10, No. 11
# of Discs: 2

A great biblical epic score of the 1950s comes to CD at last: The Silver Chalice (1954) by Franz Waxman.

The early CinemaScope era was replete with biblical epics designed to appeal to 1950s audiences with religious subject matter and colorful widescreen cinematography. The Silver Chalice was unusual in that director Victor Saville opted for an interior, moody approach utilizing spare, almost abstract Art Deco sets rather than the customary panoramas of the genre. The film stars Paul Newman (in his feature debut) as a silversmith enlisted by the early Christians to design a Silver Chalice to house their Holy Grail, the Cup of Christ. Virginia Mayo, Jack Palance, Joseph Wiseman, Pier Angeli, Lorne Greene and Alexander Scourby co-star as Newman is swept into the political intrigue of ancient Rome as well as a romantic triangle with Mayo and Angeli.

The magnificent score by Franz Waxman is familiar to collectors from Elmer Bernstein's re-recording in the 1970s (available from FSM in Bernstein's Film Music Collection box set). This marks the first-ever release of the original soundtrack recording. Waxman drew upon the work of great liturgical masters like J.S. Bach from the Baroque era in order to depict the power of the Cup and the influence of Christ—a highly learned achievement that was praised by musicologists and resulted in the Library of Congress requesting Waxman's original sketches for archiving (one of the few times they have done this).

In addition to the powerful religious music, Waxman wrote a beautiful, yearning love theme for Pier Angeli (the "good" character in the love triangle); solemn, reverent material for the Christian leaders; mysterious and evocative music for the story's pagan villain (Palance); and memorable and picturesque music for the film's depiction of ancient Rome. In keeping with Saville's take on the story, there are relatively few sweeping moments of outdoor grandeur; rather, Waxman's score is a thoughtful, "interior" achievement tied to character and emotion. However, there is at least one lengthy action sequence where Waxman uses the complex form of the fugue, elevating the film music requirements with this highly challenging musical approach.

Over 50 years after its recording, Waxman's great score to The Silver Chalice comes to CD in the best-possible monaural sound (the stereo masters are long lost), complete except for one unused cue and a few otherwise unavailable selections taken from a music-and-effects reel (the only possible source). The 2CD program includes a good deal of never-before-heard music, both for deleted scenes (described in the program commentary) and "pre-recordings" (temporary cues recorded prior to production). It is the definitive presentation of this classic score. Liner notes are by Lukas Kendall.

Franz Waxman Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Franz Waxman (1906-1967) was one of the greatest composers of Hollywood's Golden Age, having fled his native Germany to escape the Nazis. Jerry Goldsmith—no slouch himself—admired Waxman for the great versatility of his accomplishments; for example, Waxman created lasting efforts for horror (The Bride of Frankenstein), biblical epics (Demetrius and the Gladiators), Americana (Peyton Place), biopics (The Nun's Story) and westerns (Cimarron)—to say nothing of his back-to-back Oscar wins for Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun. He was a master dramatist and a distinguished, modern composer who pushed the envelope of the symphonic score. IMDB

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Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Franz Waxman

Victor Arno, Israel Baker, David Berman, Dixie Blackstone, Dave Crocov, Milton Feher, Baldassare Ferlazzo, Noumi / Naomi Fischer, Elliot Fisher, Howard W. Griffin, Heimo Haitto, Rene C. Hemery, Henry Hill, William Hymanson, Sascha Jacobsen, Anatol Kaminsky, Joseph Livoti, Dan Lube, Hillard Lubie, Lilly Mahler, Marshall Moss, Alexander Murray, Alex Pierce, Jerome Joseph Reisler, Sam Ross, Norman Serkin, Eudice Shapiro-Kast, Robert "Bob" Sushel, Hans Wippler, Harry Zagon

Donald A. Cole, Rubin Decker, Abe Hochstein, William Hymanson, Maurice Keltz, Michel Perriere

Maurice Amsterdam, Naoum Benditzky, Nikolai Graudau, Kolia Levienne, Fernand Lhoest, Irving Lipschultz, Alexander Reisman, Katherine F. Shreves, Eleanor Slatkin

John Bambridge, Jr., Paul Gregory, Peter A. Mercurio, Joseph Mondragon, Kenneth Winstead

Viola d'Amore:
Milton Thomas

Robert Bladet, James Briggs, George Drexler, Leonard V. Posella

Liliane Lhoest Covington

English Horn:
Lloyd R. Rathbun

Richard H. Anderson, Joe Casillas, Teddy Krise, Milton Marcus, Percy Nichols, Les Robinson

Glen Johnston, Ray Nowlin, Ernest R. Warren

French Horn:
Alfred Brain, William A. Hinshaw, George Hofman, George W. Hyde

Robert Fowler, A. A. Harris, Pincus "Pinky" Savitt, Larry Sullivan

Hoyt Bohannon, Charles Cowpland, Frank Sullivan

John Bambridge, Jr.

Edwin L. Cole, Norma Drury, David Klatzkin

Ingolf Dahl

Max Rabinowitsh

Hilmer "Tiny" Timbrell

Stanley Chaloupka, Irma Louise Clow, Denzil (Gail) Laughton, Charlotte Tinsley

George Beebe, Charles Calkins, W. Frank Horscroft

Orchestra Manager:
Victor Aller

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