At last! World premiere release of intense, evocative Les Baxter score for famous Roger Corman debut in series of Edgar Allan Poe tales starring Vincent Price, filmed for American International in evocatively-colored widescreen. While original session elements have long-since vanished, complete music tracks mixed into mono and assembled for film do remain. Slight variances in levels designed for later addition of dialog & effects in post-production could not be completely avoided but have been minimized during mastering of this CD. As a result, most cues have identical assemblies of film itself, albeit happily without dialog or effects! (We edited together short pieces to create better musical experience.) Every cue appears! Rare music-only elements survive courtesy MGM vaults, efforts of Taylor White of Percepto Records. Neat bonus! MGM commissioned Chace Productions to restore long-lost original "Overture", previously heard only with initial 1960 release of film in theaters. Chace provided newly-restored master to Intrada for this CD premiere as well! Les Baxter creates sometimes beautifully evocative, sometimes intensely scary score with some of his most striking and exciting music in a lengthy and successful career. Film itself was later re-titled THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. Les Baxter conducts. Intrada Special Collection release limited to 1200 copies!
With the first
of eight cinematic Edgar Allan Poe adaptations produced by
Roger Corman, House of Usher was an important project for
Les Baxter. As such, he pulled out all the stops, scoring for
full orchestra plus large choir and writing in an idiom both
soothingly tonal and frighteningly dissonant. It is a lengthy score, with music covering literally three quarters of the film’s final 85-minute running time.
For this premiere release of Baxter’s score from House of Usher,
we have edited and mastered the CD from the only surviving music elements available
through MGM—the music-only dubbing masters used for the final soundtrack of the film.
While these masters were complete and happily contained no sound effects or dialog, they
did include the cue assemblies and crossfades used in the film as well as several quick fades
at the end of some cues. These tapes also included the “potting” of various levels made by the
original music editor to accommodate dialog
and sound effects. These mono scoring
elements were in remarkably clean shape
overall, considering their frequent use with
the steady re-release of the popular film
over the years, including numerous foreigndubbed
prints and video incarnations. For
our CD, where possible, we have minimized
any abrupt level changes, albeit some fluctuation
in overall relative levels remains apparent.
The dynamic range is reasonably crisp and effective
For the initial presentations of the film in
1960, a three-minute “Overture” was created by Baxter to help
create the right mood for audiences as the show was about to begin. This
sequence was subsequently dropped from re-release prints and home video presentations.
For our CD, we were fortunate enough to have access to this complete and rarely-heard overture,
recently restored and newly-mastered by Chace Productions for the video department of
MGM. It is included at the start of the CD.
So let Les Baxter and his orchestra, complete with chorus, now usher you into the terrifying
world of Edgar Allan Poe and his immortal tale of Roderick and the House of Usher.
CD player on. Volume up. Lights out.
Composed and Conducted by Les Baxter. Recorded on May 3, 1960, at Samuel Goldwyn Studios.
VIOLIN Felix Slatkin
VIOLA Sanford Schonbach
CELLO Eleanor Slatkin
BASS Tony Reyes
FLUTE/CLARINET Sylvia Ruderman
BASSOON Jack Marsh
FRENCH HORN Dick Perissi
TRUMPET Ray Linn
TROMBONE Karl DeKarske
TUBA John Bambridge
PIANO Caesar Giovannini
HARP Dorothy Remsen
DRUMS/PERCUSSION Dale Anderson