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Various Artists

Kubrick's Music: Selections From The Films Of Stanley Kubrick

Review by Gary Hill

This box set of four CDs compiles soundtrack music from a number of Stanley Kubrick's movies. A booklet goes into a lot of the thought process and other factors involved with the music. Rather than just go with the final music, though, some of these pieces are actually the ones Kubrick originally chose for the film, but for one reason or another they wound up going with something else - or a different version. While a lot of this is classical music, there is jazz and more also on display. It's quite an interesting set that should be of interest to both Kubrick fans and those who just general enjoy cinematic music. I should mention that I don't have the training to review classical music in the form classical music fans are accustomed to. I wholly accept that, and simply review it in terms of how it sounds, much like I do any other form of music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
    
Paths of Glory (1957)
                
La Marseillaise (Detroit So / Paul Paray)

This cut has a very bombastic and regal sound. At just a bit over a minute and ten seconds, this is a short one.

Johann Strauss II - K├╝nstlerleben (Artist's Life) Walzer, Op. 316 - (Vienna Philharmonic / Clemens Krauss)
Starting quite sedate, this gradually makes its way toward more powerful sounds. It's a dynamic piece with a number of changes and moods. This really is almost a whole film soundtrack in one composition given the scope of moods and movements, and the variety of themes presented here.
Lolita (1962) Nelson Riddle & Bob Harris
       
Main Title (Love Theme from Lolita)

While this starts with a flourish of strings, and they return to augment the arrangement, the central focus here revolves around a piano solo.

Quilty's Theme
There is a real tweaked and twisted texture to this piece. It feels like something that would have been at home in the soundtrack to "Psycho." It plays through on various instruments along this road.
Arrival in Town
A short piece, this has a real energy and sense of movement in its symphonic arrangement.
Lolita Ya Ya

More of a folk pop song, this is playful. It has a child-like voice singing the "ya ya" part.

Love Theme from Lolita
This cut is gentle, and intricate and quite pretty. It has a real innocence and charm to it.
Humbert Comtemplates Killing Wife
Powerful, dramatic and a bit sinister, there is a real sense of menace to this composition. It's another fully symphonic treatment.
Discovery of Diary
There is a lot of drama and a bit of dark menace to this cut, too. It really does feel secretive.
Two Beat Society
An old-time jazz sound is on the menu here. This is bouncy and fun. It has a lot of swing to it.
Thoughts of Lolita
We get a reprise of the "ya ya" song on this number. It gets more symphonic elements laced into it, though.
School Dance
Jazz meets a rock and roll groove on this upbeat tune. This is a lot of fun and really swings.
Mother and Humbert at Dinner (Music to Eat By)
There is a bit of a playful element to this cut. It has a symphonic basis, but still some hints of a jazzy pop music texture.
End Title (Love Theme from Lolita)
This symphonic treatment is quite pretty. It's also dramatic and powerful with sweeping melodic elements dancing across it.
Frederic Chopin - Polonaise i No. 3 in A Major, Op. 40. No. 1 'Military' (Piano - Arthur Rubenstein)
As you could probably gather from the title, this is a classical piece performed on piano. It's a powerful number that has some great melodies.
Oscar Peterson Trio - Learnin' the Blues
When it comes to this form of old school jazz, you can't really beat the Oscar Peterson Trio. This number is a classic example of why. I love the bass work on the piece, but the piano is purely magical, too.
Sue Lyon
             
Lolita Ya-Ya

There is a lot more of a 1950s rock and roll vibe to this version of the earlier cut.

Turn Off the Moon

Jazz and rock and roll merge with a real pop music sensibility on this number. It's a fun one that's one of the only real pop rock songs here.

Dr. Strangelove or
       
How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    
Toots Thielemans - Try a Little Tenderness

A slow moving and somber vibe is at the heart of this jazz tune.

John Coltrane Quartet - Greensleeves
I'm a big fan of Coltrane, so I love this piece. It has some killer jamming and great melodies. The tones and textures are classic jazz. This piece is more than ten minutes, allowing lots of space for some killer exploration.
Vera Lynn - We'll Meet Again

With a crowd singalong later in the track, this is an old-time pop song, like people did in the 20s and 30s.

Disc Two
          
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
   
Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra Op. 30 - Prelude (Sonneaufgang) (Vienna Philharmonic / Herbert Von Karajan)
This is the piece everyone recognizes from this movie soundtrack. It is a powerful cut that works well within the context of the film and outside of it.
Johann Strauss II - An Der Sch├Ânen Blauen Donau, (The Blue Danube Waltz) Op. 314 (Vienna Philharmonic / Clemens Krauss)
Another particularly well known classical piece, this waltz is a pretty one with some great melodies. There is a lot of variety built into the various movements, including some almost menacing moments.
Aram Khachaturian - Adagio from the Gayane Ballet Suite - (Leningrad Philharmonic / Gennadi Rozhdestvensky)
This comes in sedate and so beautiful. There is so much emotion packed into this powerful arrangement.
Sidney Torch Off Beat Moods (Part 1)
Energetic and playful, there is a lot of jazz built into this swinging number.
Gerald Adams and the Variety Singers - Daisy Bell
A very old-time music concept is on display here. Feeling like something that would have been heard in an old "Little Rascals" show, this is a slice of a long lost time. It's not my thing, though.
Felix Mendelssohn - Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam / George Szell)
A fast paced classical piece, this is energetic and so powerful. There is great contrast with the quieter section at the end.
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Prelude (Andante Maestoso) from Sinfonia Antartica (London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Adrian Boult)
Roughly the first half minute of this is a poetry reading. Music rises up from there with a spectacular beauty. It feels like watching a sunrise. This piece is nearly 11 minutes, and all that time is put to good use. It builds upwards before eventually dropping back to much mellower and rather trippy territory. There are some chorale vocals that show up and a real exploratory vibe is heard on a lot of the mellower modes. The cut shifts toward dark and dangerous as it starts to power back upward. The voices take over after a while, moving us into weird territory as a wind blows. Then a horn sounds a fanfare around the eight and a half minute, and the cut starts to work out from there. It has a dramatic, but also rather mysterious texture to it. It works to a powerful crescendo to end.
Spartacus (1960) Alex North
             
Spartacus (Main Title)

Dramatic and powerful, this seems to have both classical music and jazz at its core. It has some intriguing melodies and themes and works well.

Spartacus Love Theme
A much gentler and more purely classical piece, this is quite pretty. It has some soaring elements at play in places.
Gladiators Fight to the Death
Bombastic, percussive and powerful, this symphonic piece conveys both movement and emotion.
Blue Shadows and Purple Hills
A mellower and rather restful piece, this creates some great contrast to the previous number.
Homeward Bound a: On to the Sea / B: Beside the Pool
The first half of this has more of a jazz element on display. It feels like the kind of music one might expect from a marching band. That said, there are more purely classical textures here, too. For the second part, it drops way down to mellower sounds. Then it grows up to something that feels a bit like a classical treatment of a jazzy spaghetti western type of sound. A far mellower movement finally takes the piece to its end.
Hopeful Preparations, Vesuvius Camp
Bombastic and powerful, there is a real moving energy to this. It is a powerful piece, and it really does feel hopeful.
Prelude to Battle a: Quiet Interlude / B: The Final Conflict
Starting suitably mellow and pretty, this gradually grows outward. This gets more bombastic as it builds. There is a definite martial element to it along with a lot of power. It is easy to see people marching to battle.
On to Vesuvius a: Forward, Gladiators / B: Forest Meeting
Coming in with a moving, powerful arrangement that seems a continuation of the previous piece, this eventually shifts toward more mellow sounds as it works forward. That movement is quite pretty and has a real sedate beauty to it.
Oysters and Snails - Festival
The opening section here is mellower and trippy. It feels a bit like early Pink Floyd to me, but done symphonically. It grows out to a moving section that does feel like a celebration.
Headed for Freedom
Dramatic, fast paced and powerful, this is really a symphonic representation of what "heading for freedom" should sound like. There is a sense of hope, but also a sense of danger. It's all delivered with a frenetic energy.
Goodbye My Life, My Love - End Title
Pretty sounds with a definite sadness are the driving elements here. This is a mellower symphonic piece that works well. The final section is suitably bombastic.
Disc Three
         
A Clockwork Orange (1972)
        
Henry Purcell - March from Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary (Geraint Jones Orchestra)

A slow processional, this is symphonic, pretty and rather melancholy. There is a bit of percussive bombast at the end of the piece.

Gioacchino Rossini - The Thieving Magpie (Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner)
Speaking of bombast, this powerful number is packed full of it. It still has a bit of a processional feeling in some ways. It's also rather martial in this first movement. There is a drop back to silence. Then the orchestra rises up into a crescendo. It works out from there into more of a soaring arrangement with bursts of bombastic power. It feels like a butterfly dancing over head with blasts of power creating punctuation to the movement. By around the half-way point of this nearly nine and a half minute piece, it has turned out into a very playful arrangement that is bouncy and fun. It powers into some powerful symphonic climbing, but then drops back down to mellower sounds only to gradually start rising back upward. Reaching more bombastic territory it drops down to some slower, mellower music to carry onward. It gets into some of the most driving, powerful music of the whole composition after the eight minute mark. That section continues driving it forward until they reach a dramatic conclusion.
Ludwig Van Beethoven - Ninth Symphony, Second Movement (Molto Vivace) (Berlin Philharmonic / Ferenc Fricsay)

The opening section of this is arguably one of the better known classical passages out there.  It dances around with symphonic power and melodic beauty. Of course, this is also an extensive piece, running for ten and a half minutes. There are some great shifts and changes along the road with different movements taking control at different times. Some themes reappear later in the course of this number. This gets incredibly powerful at times.

Gioacchino Rossini - William Tell Overture (Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner)
Another extended piece, this one is around twelve minutes long. While everyone is familiar with the movement of this that was used for the theme song of "The Lone Ranger," there is much more to it than that. It starts quite sedate and pretty. The slow moving arrangement has a bit of a melancholy and reflective vibe to it.  As it works through a number of sections, we eventually make our way to a pretty, and quite restful movement that feels like a glade on a spring day. That movement is another of those passages that is very recognizable. The "Lone Ranger" part emerges just after that (around the nine minute mark). It gets suitably bombastic and powerful as it drives onward. This gets so powerfully bombastic before it's all over and done.
Ludwig Van Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, Fourth Movement (Presto - "O Freunde, nacht diese tone!") (section) (Berlin Philharmonic /
After a powerful introduction it drops for an operatic solo. Eventually other voices augment this, as does some instrumentation as it builds forward. It becomes a fast moving and drastically building symphonic piece with lots of chorale vocals creating the dramatic operatic elements. That peaks near the half way mark, and the cut is rebuilt as a mellow symphonic treatment. Another operatic voices comes over the top with the new themes as this continues. The orchestra takes over beyond that as this continues to drive forward.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - The Sea and Sinbad's Ship from Scheherazade - (Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner)
Dramatic, mysterious and powerful at its opening, this drops back from the bombastic to mellower tones to carry forward. This gradually builds back upward as it continues. This works through various movements getting quite powerful at times. There are some decidedly familiar elements at play at times here. This continues shifting and evolving before it finally works its way to the closing.
Edward Elgar - Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches Op. 39 March No. 1 (Philharmonia Orchestra / John Barbirolli)
A powerful and bombastic musical element drives this in fine fashion. It's a real powerhouse piece that works quite well. The section around the two and a half minute mark is another that most people have heard. The powered up bombastic section is a killer, too.
Edward Elgar - Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches Op. 39 March No. 4 (Philharmonia Orchestra / John Barbirolli)
This is a symphonic powerhouse that has a real emphasis on melody, while still maintaining some bombastic elements. It drops to mellower textures at times, while powering back upward at other times.
Gene Kelly - Singin' in the Rain
This old time pop song is a classic in a lot of ways. It's not really my sort of thing, but it works well. The powered up jazzy section is a nice touch.
Sergei Prokofiev - The Battle on the Ice from Alexander Nevsky Op. 78 (Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner)
Coming in mellow, bt also dramatic, this builds outward from there. As it approaches the two minute mark it begins driving faster and faster like a train as ominous musical elements rise upward. There is a bit of a circus kind of element at play. Chorale voices come in lending a particularly powerful air to the piece. This continues to work ever upward in intensity and seeming importance as it continues. There is an almost demonic power to the later sections of this. It feels really ominous. It shifts to something fast paced and lighter in tone that feels less dark after that movement. At over 13 and a half minutes, there is plenty of room to explore, and this does that. It gets more evil sounding further down the road as it also reaches some powerful heights. Then it drops to something that seems almost doomed. It continues with a mellow movement from there, seeming to try to find a direction. Symphonie beauty gradually starts to rise back upward from there. That movement eventually ends it without really building far.
Disc Four
 
Barry Lyndon (1975)
    
George Friedrich Handel - Sarabande from Suite for Harpsichord in D Minor (guitar - Andres Segovia)
This acoustic guitar solo is intricate and very pretty.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - March from Idomeneo (Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra / John Pritchard)
This is just a little over half a minute long. It is a classy symphonic processional piece.
Giovanni Paisiello - The Cavatina Saper Bramate from the Barber of Seville (Collegium Musicum Italicum & I Virtuosi Di Roma - Renato Fasano)
Rising up in sedate and slow moving ways, this grows nicely from there. The instrumental concept here remains fairly stripped back, serving as a backdrop for an operatic vocal.
Franz Schubert - Piano Trio in E Flat Op. 100 (Andante Con Moto Section) (Piano-Rudolf Serkin)
While the piano is credited, the violin on this really delivers so much of the beauty and magic in the first part of this piece. This is a slow moving and particularly evocative composition. The piano starts exploring the musical framework after a bit, creating more melodic interest as it does so.
Franz Schubert - Impromptus Opus 90 No. 1 (Section) (Piano - Artur Schnabel)
This piano solo is intricate and yet also driving. It is dramatic and melodic.
Antonio Vivaldi Cello Concerto in E Minor (Lento Ed Espressivo) (Cello - Pierre Fournier)

This is so pretty and evocative. It (as you might imagine) remains sedate, but really delivers style, melody and emotion.

Johann Sebastian Bach - Adagio from Concerto for Two Harpsichords and Orchestra in C-Minor (Karl Richter & Hedwig Bilgram)
I am a huge fan of harpsichord, so as you might guess, this really works well for me. It is intricate and has a moving feeling to it. It's also very pretty.
The Shining (1980)
 
Bela Bartok - Adagio from Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan)

This piece really does feel dark and mysterious. It is so well suited to the movie "The Shining." The early portions are mellow, but it grows out to louder, more ominous territory as it works forward. It gets decidedly bombastic at points. Even when it returns to mellower stuff, there is a feeling of darkness and menace built into it.

Jack Hylton & His Orchestra - Masquerade
Old time music is on the menu here, with this dance inducing number. The vocals don't come in until almost halfway through. They bring more of that early 20th century (or perhaps even late 19th) sound.
Ray Noble & His Orchestra - Midnight, the Stars, and You
Set in the same kind of musical zone, I like this song better than the previous one. It feels creepy to me, but that's because of my association of it with the movie. It's actually just a classy old-time jazz number. I like the vocals on this one much better than those on the last tune.
Ray Noble & His Orchestra - It's All Forgotten Now
Another song in much the same vein, this is a bit slower. I'm not as crazy about the vocals on this one. This feels like it's based in an older time period than the other one from this act does.
Henry Hall and the Gleneagles Hotel Band - Home
Bouncy old fashioned music is on diplay here. If anything this might seem even older than the previous three tracks.
Hector Berlioz - Nightmare of a Witches Sabbath from Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 (Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Paul Paray)
With that title, it would seem that this piece would be evil in tone. I suppose there is a bit of that. It definitely has dark moments. Yet there are some decidedly light-hearted sections, particularly the fast paced movement around the minute and a half mark. This has strong contrasts between mellower and more powered up portions of the piece. The piece gets very powerful and majestic at times. There are a lot of varying movements, and it gets quite powerful at times.
Jean Sibelius - Valse Triste (Sad Waltz), Op. 44 (Berlin Philharmonic / Hans Rosbaud)
Sibelius is my favorite composer, so I've heard a number of different recordings of this piece. It's a moving and powerful piece of music, and this recording has a great sonic texture. This might not be my favorite recording of the piece, but is very good. The dynamic range works well, and for my money, you just can't beat Sibelius' compositions.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
        
Victor Silvester Ballroom Orchestra - When I Fall in Love

I dig the old time arrangement on this classic tune. It has a great shuffling tempo, and works really well. This instrumental feels like one that would have been at home on "The Shining" soundtrack.

Victor Silvester Ballroom Orchestra - I Only Have Eyes for You
Another old school jazz styled tune, this works well, too.
Oscar Peterson Trio - I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
I have always really liked this band a lot. Here we get a killer jazz blues number that's slow and very evocative. The piano really shines.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Rex Tremendae from the Requiem (New York Philharmonic / Bruno Walter)
I love the symphonic tones that lead this piece out of the gate. The chorale vocals don't work as well for me, but they are still reasonably effective. This piece has a lot of power. It drops way down at the end.
Frans Liszt - Nuages Gris (Grey Clouds) (Piano - Vladmir Sofronitsky)
Frans Liszt is another I like a lot. This piano piece is slow moving and quite powerful. There is a lot of drama and some menace built into it.
Richard Wagner - Lieder Im Triebhaus from Wesendonck Lieder (Vienna Philharmonic / Hans Knappertsbusch) (Soprano - Kristen Flagstad)
I'm not a big fan of opera, so this piece isn't really my kind of thing. It does have some dramatic music, though.
 
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