June 2010
Remember the (complete) Alamo

The Alamo - CD CoverFor years soundtrack collectors have waited for a complete recording of Tiomkin’s score for The Alamo. The wait is finally over. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the epic Western, a complete recording of music from the film will be available on May 11 from Screen Archives Entertainment and Tadlow Music. The Tadlow Music production for Prometheus Records ranks as one of the most ambitious film music recording efforts ever.

Billed as the “World Premiere Recording of the Complete Film Score,” the project was spearheaded by executive producer Luc Van de Ven and album producer James Fitzpatrick. This herculean effort took place during a weeklong session in Prague in late November 2009. Nic Raine conducted, and Olivia Tiomkin Douglas attended the orchestra sessions. The choir was recorded in London in early December. Orchestrator Patrick Russ prepared the scores from material in the Dimitri Tiomkin Collection at USC’s Cinematic Arts Library. The music, recorded by Jan Holzner (orchestra) and Gary Thomas (choir), was mixed and mastered by Gareth Williams. A full-color booklet with an introduction by James Fitzpatrick and liner notes by Frank K. DeWald accompanies the boxed set. Fitzpatrick calls the recording the greatest challenge of his career, explains how the recording came about, and gives interesting behind-the-scenes details concerning Tiomkin’s score. DeWald, the American composer, choir director, and frequent contributor to Pro Musica Sana, provides cue-by-cue summaries in the extensive liner notes.

The three-CD set contains nearly three hours of music from the 1960 film—more than half previously unreleased. Topping it all off are the bonus tracks, which include original and alternate versions for several cues. The orchestral backing track for the Entr’acte is not to be missed. As DeWald points out, “Tiomkin’s vivid orchestral textures and colors stand out in this orchestra-only track that underscored the original choral version.”

Until now, collectors and fans of The Alamo have had access to only a limited number of recordings. On the original Columbia soundtrack LP, dated 1960, the music tracks include dialogue from the film and comprise a little less than 45 minutes of music. Two later releases on compact disc, from Varese Sarabande in 1989 and Sony Classical in 1992, each contain about 45 minutes as well. A 1995 Legacy CD offers about an hour’s worth.

James Fitzpatrick previously produced a four-CD set, The Alamo: Dimitri Tiomkin, The Essential Film Music Collection, with more than 20 minutes of music from the film, including the popular ballad “Green Leaves of Summer.” In fact, Nick Perito’s recording of that song, composed by Tiomkin with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, can be heard over the opening of the 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt. Perito’s version is on the Basterds soundtrack,available on iTunes. In addition to “Green Leaves,” Inglourious Basterds also repurposes film music by Ennio Morricone, Charles Bernstein, and others.

The Alamo was orchestrated by G. A. Emanuel (Manuel Emanuel), Michael Heindorf, Maurice de Packh, George Parrish, and Herb Taylor. It was one of the last orchestrations by de Packh, who died in May 1960, five months prior to the film’s release. In the late 1950s, de Packh served as an important member of Tiomkin’s scoring team, having worked on Last Train from Gun Hill, Rio Bravo, Search for Paradise, and Wild Is the Wind.

The producers traveled to Prague from Belgium and England to record the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, using parts created by Czech copyist Jiri Simunek. They then went to London to record the Crouch End Festival Chorus. The music preparation had commenced months earlier in Los Angeles, when Patrick Russ received an enormous stack of photocopies of the scores in the Tiomkin collection from Ned Comstock at USC’s Cinematic Arts Library. Russ then led the creative effort in assembling the music and oversaw the prep team. Steve Biagini typeset the scores, which were almost entirely proofread by Russ and Paul Henning, with an assist from Warren Sherk. At the end of the project, Frank DeWald, based in Michigan, wrote the liner notes.

This long-anticipated recording should please Tiomkin aficionados and film music collectors alike—as well as the master himself. “This recording of The Alamo,” says Olivia Tiomkin Douglas in the introduction, “is everything Dimitri Tiomkin would have wished for in a faithful reconstruction of his timeless score.”

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