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Leith Stevens: Destination Moon [Original Motion Picture Score]

Album Notes

Leith Stevens' contributions to film music include the soundtracks to The Wild One, The James Dean Story, When Worlds Collide, War of the Worlds, and World Without End, among other feature films, but Destination Moon remains his most enduring movie score. Written for the 1950 George Pal-produced sci-fi adventure film, it was one of the more daring bodies of movie music of its period. The title theme was rousing and memorable in evoking the wonder and adventure inherent in its subject. Even better was the incidental music, an extended body of work depicting travel in deep space. "In Outer Space," running 20 minutes, is highlighted by a shimmering violin-based section, an otherworldly sense of musical dislocation during the woodwinds' part, adjoining passages for harp, a hauntingly beautiful part for harps and flutes accompanying the travelers' sense of awe at their voyage, and an action theme that is one of the more memorable ever written to accompany a realistic space flight. "On the Surface of the Moon" and "Finale" are virtual tone poems about the sights and the psychic repercussions of space flight, rich in complex and powerful orchestral writing. This CD features the 1957 vintage stereo recording of the score by the Vienna Concert Orchestra conducted by Heinz Sandauer, which is reasonably sharp for its age, though it would be interesting to hear what could be done in 24-bit digital audio. Leith Stevens' music for Destination Moon was later tracked into other films, including The Phantom Planet. ~ Bruce Eder



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