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Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Album Review

Leonard Rosenman is a composer who is not over-represented on commercial soundtrack releases, despite a record of successes in the field that goes back to the time of James Dean. His music for Beneath the Planet of the Apes was never properly represented on record until the early-2003 release of a limited-edition CD pressing from Film Score Monthly magazine. The music holds up well, actually better than the movie does in most respects — Rosenman's dissonant score, with its ominous central march for the apes, highlighted by a series of slashing ascending riffs on the reeds, as well as horn calls and percussion parts that rise to a horrifically frenzied crescendo, is represented in a loud, richly detailed transfer that brings out details that even this longtime fan of the score had not heard before. Rosenman's Beneath the Planet of the Apes score is actually a very effective follow-up to Jerry Goldsmith's growling, atonal score for the first movie — in point of fact, his music is more consistent than the movie, displaying a richness in tone and texture that the movie, which careens from incident to incident in a threadbare script, never achieves on its level; and his "Mass to the Bomb" remains one of the most delightfully bizarre and disturbing pieces of "religious" music ever written for a Hollywood film. The producers have mastered the original tracks at a high volume level and pulled all manner of sound out of them that was scarecely exposed in the film — only one short portion of the soundtrack, underscoring the death of Nova, was damaged at its opening and has been appended to the rest of the score. In addition, the producers have included the complete contents of Rosenman's re-recording and reorchestrated version of the music (and the accompanying dialogue sequences) from the 1970-vintage Amos Records soundtrack. The annotation is extremely thorough although one hesitates to take all of the anecdotal information at face value — the notion that star Charlton Heston dictated the movie's ending, in which the earth is destroyed, runs counter to other accounts that attribute the source of the ending to someone rather higher up the production chain-of-command; and no one seems willing to take responsibility for the final lines from the movie (present on the 1970 soundtrack album), which were lifted almost verbatim from the final scene of the 1957 feature Bridge on the River Kwai.


Genre: Soundtrack

Composer Leonard Rosenman was an instrumental force behind the modernization of film scoring, championing avant-garde compositional techniques like serialism, atonality, and microtonality to help redefine the sound and scope of Hollywood music. Born in Brooklyn on September 7, 1924, Rosenman began playing piano as a teen, and after serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II he settled in California, studying composition under Arnold Schoenberg and Roger Sessions. In 1952 Rosenman earned a...
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