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How The West Was Won


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Performer Notes
  • Rhino's 1997 reissue of HOW THE WEST WAS WON includes the full score along with outtakes and alternate versions.
  • Personnel includes: Debbie Reynolds.
  • Original score written by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby.
  • Includes liner notes by Didier Deutsch.
  • This double CD has generally superior sound to the 1992 Sony Music release, but its more than two-hours of music may be a classic case of overkill. The essential problem is that How the West Was Won is rooted in two separate bodies of music, the Alfred Newman instrumental and orchestral material (including the rousing main title theme), spiced with a few traditional (i.e. folk) and traditional-style tunes; and the songs sung by Debbie Reynolds in her various set pieces as an entertainer, principally "Home in the Meadow" (adapted from "Greensleeves"). The Alfred Newman material generally recalls Aaron Copland's musical Americana (especially the "Lincoln Portrait") at its best and most accessible, and the folk songs handled by the choir or Dave Guard's Whiskeyhill Singers come off well -- but then there are those numbers done by Reynolds, which sort of break the spell. It's not that she's a bad singer, it's just that her voice doesn't fit within the surrounding musical settings. One guesses the producers had no choice but to give full play to this part of the score, but one wishes there'd been a way around it. The annotation is very thorough, the photographs (including some behind-the-scenes shots of co-director John Ford) are a nice treat, and anyone who likes the movie or Newman's music is sure to enjoy this. ~ Bruce Eder
Professional Reviews
Uncut (6/03, p.136) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The heaviness is one thing; quite another is the sheer grace, patrician arrogance and panache with which it's delivered....Jaw-dropping..."
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