JULIUS CAESAR

(Film Score Monthly)

In the comprehensive liner notes that accompany Film Score Monthly's superb release of the entire Miklos Rozsa score for JULIUS CAESAR, they generously mention the fact that "the complete score was re-recorded in 1995 by Intrada Records with Bruce Broughton conducting ----- and we recommend their CD for listeners wishing to hear a modern stereo recording of this classic music."  For me, though, the only value in listening to the Broughton version is that it confirms what I have always believed : that it is impossible to convey the essence, power, and spirit of just two of the great Golden Age composers in a re-recording -- Alfred Newman and Miklos Rozsa. (Even the legendary 70's re-recordings produced by George Korngold and conducted by Charles Gerhardt, as well as the equally celebrated Elmer Bernstein re-recordings that had done exemplary justice to the works of Steiner, Waxman, Tiomkin,  and scores of others totally dropped the ball when faced with the daunting works of Newman and Rozsa. Indeed, only one man successfully re-recorded the Rosza scores ---- Rosza himself!) Trying to compare the misguided Muir Matheson British version of KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE with the Rozsa tracks released last year by FSM further illustrates and amplifies my contention.

It goes without saying that FSM's JULIUS CAESAR release is a cause for celebration, for here, finally, we can listen to  this great score in all its majestically dramatic splendor. So fine is this work that it single-handedly justified the controversial, and to many, wrong choice to film CAESAR in shadowy black and white by creating a soundtrack that combined the elements of pageantry and film noir. (At the time director Joseph L. Mankiewicz said "I've never seen a good, serious dramatic movie in color " ---- that sweepingly absurd  statement would soon be contradicted by Mankiewicz himself, who would go on to direct such films as THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA and SLEUTH, as well as many others, in color!)

An even more pronounced miscalculation occurred when M.G.M jettisoned the excellent Rozsa overture in favor of the Johnny Green conducted Tchaikovsky CAPPRICIO ITALIEN short. The egregiousness of that ridiculous decision is immediately and glaringly apparent when one hears the overture in its entirety as included in the FSM release, for it magnificently sets the stage for the dramatic events about to unfold, as well as preparing us for one of the finest  Rozsa scores ever. Hail CAESAR, indeed!   

--DICK DINMAN

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