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 Post subject: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tapes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:12 pm 
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On The Waterfront is certainly an American landmark in film, particularly due Brando's performance... and Leonard Bernstein's triumphant score. One of the most compelling ever composed, it also offers what might be the most powerful fortissimo ending to a film score of all time. Scored as if it were a symphony itself, the final bars develop the main theme into a crashing powerhouse of orchestral might. It's especially powerful in the context that this theme originally starts as a lonely, unaccompanied melody for just ONE French horn. Wow! And also of note: the love theme, a truly expressive major key idea, makes an appearance AGAINST this crashing orchestral finale - on ONE solo trumpet, piercing through in opposition to all that orchestral might! The instrument reaches up, through, in and about the thundering main theme, doing its own thing completely against it, all alone while the entire rest of the orchestra pounds away. The love theme and the main theme. Two completely different themes with nothing in common, playing at the same time. And it works magnificently. Another wow! All just in the finale no less. One could spend oodles of time talking about the brilliance of this masterpiece of film scoring.

Sadly, some misinformation is going around with respect to the newly discovered masters and the Criterion Blu-ray. So people, here are the facts... straight from the vaults.

Yes, the complete elements have been located and are being readied for release. But EVERYTHING is in mono. Superb mono, but still mono. There are NO stereo masters. I repeat - no stereo masters. None. Nada. The Criterion video in fact is a new 5.1 remix of the MONO music and effects tracks. Because the score includes so many solo colors and has a lot of exposed solos for tympani, the reverb and stereo-izing of the mono elements - combined with the panning of the mono sound effects - does indeed have a nice aural sense of space. But it is still derived from MONO elements. Yes, mono. This was all done with the expertise of the good folks at Chace, who literally lead the industry in audio restoration for home video. And it does make a wonderful listening experience combined with the effects and all that unforgettable dialog. But that is for the film.

Those original music and effects elements have been around for a while - albeit only recently worked into a 5.1 mix by Chace. They are NOT suitable for an album release, however, because they have the abrupt edits and trims that are in the film itself as well as the dips in volume to accommodate the dialog. They always did. They always will. And... they have the sound effects. Here again, they always did. They always will.

BUT - the GOOD news is... recently, in their exhaustive searching, the COMPLETE actual scoring session masters with the music intact exactly as recorded by Leonard Bernstein HAVE been located. These were made directly onto acetate for safety checks during the recording sessions and happily survived intact. Yes, complete. Every note of this masterful score survives, albeit in mono and from acetate discs. These are the ONLY scoring session elements in existence, preserving the complete cues without any edits, trims, volume dips and other anomalies of the film's M&E tracks used by Chace to enhance the audio for the film itself. These mono safety discs are the only sources for the true, unedited music cues Bernstein recorded. And it is dream come true that they were located.

These original session discs have been cleaned up as much as is practical without any attempts to pretend they are from anything but discs. An overuse of noise reduction and other gimmicks that remove not only the clicks but also the very life of the music itself have not been employed. Some may prefer the noise to be completely squished, no matter that important string harmonics and other instrumental timbres are heavily damaged, while others prefer to hear the orchestral colors as genuine as is possible with requisite de-noising kept to a minimum. That is our camp. Some restoration, of course, is necessary with 1950's acetates, including using state-of-the-art Sonic Solutions software to reduce clicks and pops, but digitizing everything into the 21st century CD sonic realm, while perhaps quieter, is not particularly musical in our opinion.

So, yes, this masterpiece of film scoring is finally coming to you at last, complete, in mono audio from discs, with all of the string harmonics and delicate colors playing crisply against the most powerful orchestral crescendos you could ever hope to hear... everything from that lonely opening solo French horn to that final thundering full orchestral coda.

A historic soundtrack event if there ever was one. :D
--Doug


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:39 pm 
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Forget anything coming out of the D23 Expo -- THIS is the most exciting news of the day! :)


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:52 pm 
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Dear Mr. Fake, thank you so very much for this enlightened essay on one of the greatest film scores of the 1950's. Not only is it one of mine, but also one of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's most influential on his own career. Even John Corigliano's concert work owes of debt of gratitude to Leonard Bernstein.

I am glad you are working on this Bernstein since On the Waterfront was his only film score. It cries out to be heard regardless of whether or not it is in stereo or mono. This score is one of the most powerful and tender ever composed and one cannot forget the ending when a tired and bloody Brando walks towards the dock workers and and breaks the control of the corrupt gangsters hold on the union workers.

All the best.

JP

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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:23 pm 
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That's good to know. I've often listened to the 20-minute suite wonderfully performed by the New York Philharmonic. A brilliant score.


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:14 pm 
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T. Newman Fan wrote:
That's good to know. I've often listened to the 20-minute suite wonderfully performed by the New York Philharmonic. A brilliant score.


It is a terrific suite, oft recorded. Prepared right after the film was released, it represents beautifully the two main themes and the music of violence. It is interesting to note, however, that Bernstein chose NOT to include his minor keyed "two brothers" theme - not one single note of it - anywhere in the suite. This is the very theme that plays during the most iconic scene of the film, the cab scene, where it underscores Brando's immortal line, "I coulda been a contender." Admittedly shooting from the hip here, I surmise Bernstein felt this tragic melody was musically less noticeable than the other material since it played mostly under dialog anyway. Certainly he wasn't trying to recreate the entire score in his 19-minute suite. In any case, I would imagine he never expected the cab scene would one day be amongst the most celebrated in all film.
--Doug


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:32 am 
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This is really beyond belief. I can't tell you how stoked I am. I just can't believe it's finally happening- that it ever could. Anything on Bernstein's score up to today has always been impossible, never see it, it's Columbia, etc.

Dare I say this will have tremendous cross-over appeal?


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:56 am 
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Douglass Fake wrote:
It is interesting to note, however, that Bernstein chose NOT to include his minor keyed "two brothers" theme - not one single note of it - anywhere in the suite. This is the very theme that plays during the most iconic scene of the film, the cab scene, where it underscores Brando's immortal line, "I coulda been a contender." Admittedly shooting from the hip here, I surmise Bernstein felt this tragic melody was musically less noticeable than the other material since it played mostly under dialog anyway....
--Doug

I dunno...the Cab music is pretty noticeable, and it's used again shortly thereafter when Brando finds Steiger hanging on a meathook. The cue was finally rerecorded (on "Leonard Bernstein's New York" CD), but maybe in general sad cues were considered a showstopper and thus omitted? I only suggest that because Elmer Bernstein's GHOST&MUIR omits the very sad cue "Andante Cantabile." Or perhaps the orchestration is a hassle?


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:33 pm 
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This news is almost to good to be true. A brilliant score and one of all time favorites, and one of Bernstein's best works.

When will this be released????????????

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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:26 am 
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This was posted on the Bernstein Facebook page...

***

From our fan John Kevin Casey - "On August 11, 1955 at Tanglewood, Leonard Bernstein led the Boston Symphony in the world premiere performance of his Symphonic Suite from the music he composed for the motion picture “On the Waterfront.” The film, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint, tells the story of union corruption on the docks of New York in searing, personal terms. Bernstein produced one of the great scores in Hollywood history, but he would never again undertake a film project. He wrote that he was unprepared for what was done to his score in the course of the movie’s production, when portions of it were summarily cut, changed into a different order than he first supposed, or diminished in volume just as a theme was reaching its emotional heights. Accordingly, he adapted the music he had produced for the film into his own vision of the score, in the form of the Symphonic Suite..."

The selection here is the last portion of the score. The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai of Torino is conducted by John Axelrod.

Thank you John for reminding us of this date in the Maestro's history....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhtVIYofmhc


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:48 am 
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Plus given the year of the film and what was/wasn't recorded in stereo at the time, it is highly unlikely the score was recorded in stereo. I was recently sent an inventory of everything the studio has on this title...lots of stuff. But nothing that indicates the score was recorded in stereo.


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:33 am 
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Simply fantastic news. While Lenny's suite is great, this is above all a film score, and finally hearing it as Bernstein conceived and recorded it is an experience I look forward to immensely.

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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:06 am 
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This is certainly the most exciting news to come along this year at least. Any idea yet for a release date?


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:01 pm 
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The statements being tossed around about half of the score existing in stereo are just weird. Not only are they untrue, but in 1954, recording in any multi-channel audio format, most likely 35mm magnetic film, was highly unlikely for a picture not being shot in CinemaScope or any other widescreen process. Perhaps not impossible, but it just wasn't being done. I am positive there were no plans to release the film in any widescreen process nor add a stereo soundtrack to the film. There were no stereo records being made back then. There just would not be any reason to record the score in 35mm mag and take on those higher expenses, only to reduce everything right back down to mono. Until someone can actually produce scoring logs that differ from what Sony and Chace retained, I will think of these statements as just mis-informed rumors.
--Doug


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Douglass Fake wrote:
The statements being tossed around about half of the score existing in stereo are just weird. Not only are they untrue, but in 1954, recording in any multi-channel audio format, most likely 35mm magnetic film, was highly unlikely for a picture not being shot in CinemaScope or any other widescreen process. Perhaps not impossible, but it just wasn't being done. I am positive there were no plans to release the film in any widescreen process nor add a stereo soundtrack to the film. There were no stereo records being made back then. There just would not be any reason to record the score in 35mm mag and take on those higher expenses, only to reduce everything right back down to mono. Until someone can actually produce scoring logs that differ from what Sony and Chace retained, I will think of these statements as just mis-informed rumors.
--Doug


Well, you know who's making those posts :)

But just to clarify, On the Waterfront was indeed released in widescreen - not Cinemascope - but widescreen - the trade papers have it at 1.85, but Criterion chose to put three ratios on Blu-ray - overkill - and none of them really correct because the Academy version is slightly zoomed in and the other two transfers are made from that transfer - so the 1.85 and 1.66 are not accurate, which is why the 1.85 looks too tight. But the film was always mono and it's doubtful that Columbia at that point was doing anything in stereo.

This is a major release!


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 Post subject: Re: On The Waterfront - The Real Facts About The Master Tape
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Douglass Fake wrote:
....this theme originally starts as a lonely, unaccompanied melody for just ONE French horn. Wow! And also of note: the love theme, a truly expressive major key idea, makes an appearance AGAINST this crashing orchestral finale - on ONE solo trumpet, piercing through in opposition to all that orchestral might!
--Doug


Interestingly, John Williams seems to have done the same thing in the few seconds leading up to Brody shooting the shark in JAWS. Maybe he got it from Leonard, or they both stole it from a classical composer.
Dominic Frontiere also overlays two themes (listen closely because the tempo is slow) in the Outer Limits "Closing Narration Music" (track 19 on LLL Cd#3).


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