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The Film Music of Thomas Newman

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Album Review

Silva Screen Records, in its recreations of film music newly recorded, usually by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, here turns its attention to an A-list Hollywood composer who emerged on that list in the 1990s, despite a pedigree that might have placed him there earlier, Thomas Newman. Newman, son of renowned Hollywood composer Alfred Newman and, hence, a member of the extensive Newman family of Hollywood composers, scored twin Academy Award nominations with Little Women and The Shawshank Redemption in 1994. As this collection of themes from 12 of his films and TV work covering the years 1994-2006 demonstrates, Newman has tended to work on mainstream, high-prestige Hollywood projects, collaborating with such perennial Oscar candidates as actors George Clooney, Tom Hanks, and Kevin Spacey, and directors Ron Howard, Robert Redford, and Sam Mendes. He has tended to provide basically two different kinds of scores. As might be expected, he is steeped in traditional Hollywood orchestral music, and he can write it on demand. Annotator Michael Beek accurately points out that the first two tracks, from The Good German, are excellent examples, cues that could have come from the pen of his father. But Newman often tends toward a pastoral, wistful tone in his orchestral music, using slow tempos and minor-key melodies to give it a sad, stately feeling. That inclines toward the second type of score he likes to write, short, quirky themes of only a few notes, often played on instruments rarely used for lead melodies, and accompanied by striking percussion. His Academy Award-nominated work for American Beauty (recreated here by London Music Works in the tracks "Plastic Bag Theme" and "Dead Already") is a good example, but the best and most characteristic of his efforts in this area is his theme for the television series Six Feet Under, in which an oboe, here played by Ilid Jones, interacts with percussion and isolated keyboard chords.

Customer Reviews

Very Good

Thomas Newman's distinct musical character is one that stands out in the world of film music to a great extent. Prague Philharmonic does a great job with the large orchestral pieces like Meet Joe Black's 'Whisper of a Thrill' and the main theme from Finding Nemo. The Ralph Vaughan Williams style of 'The Green Mile' is pulled off very well. Sadly however, Prague Philharmonic falls short of the mark on Newman's odder score for American Beauty. The two most famous tracks, 'Dead Already' and 'Any Other Name' (here called 'Plastic Bag Theme') are lacking their original beauty (pardon the pun) in that the recordings sound just a little too live. Aside from two of the fourteen tracks being a bit of a disappointment, the album is well worth the money and I'm sure I will be playing it regularly over the next few months, or even the next few years.

Good Album

I absolutely love Thomas Newman, so i bought this album because it has a range of different songs composed by him. The music is beautiful and offers a good selection of this work. I could listen to his score music all the time and i pretty much do. Worth buying if you like Thomas Newmans music or your looking for some relaxing music to listen too.


Shawshank Redemption music deserved an oscar. End of. It was stolen from him; that music was the most beautiful I have ever heard.

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