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Released by Special Arrangement With Turner Classic Movies Music.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov has long been considered one of the world's greatest works of literature. In 1958, M-G-M and director Richard Brooks mounted an impressive film version of the story of hedonistic Fyodor Karamazov (Lee J. Cobb) and his four sons: dashing but corrupt military officer Dmitri (Yul Brynner); atheistic journalist Ivan (Richard Basehart); pious monk Alexey (William Shatner); and epileptic bastard son Smerdyakov (Albert Salmi). Maria Schell co-starred as the pivotal "femme fatale," Grushenka, while Claire Bloom played Katya, a beautiful socialite.
One of the The Brothers Karamazov's most enthusiastic fans was its composer, Bronislau Kaper, who had been captivated by the novel as a child and had regretted his inability to score a 1931 production while in Berlin. By 1958 Kaper was one of M-G-M's top composers in Hollywood, and fulfilled his ambition by providing the Brooks film with a rich and varied dramatic score, drawing upon gypsy melodies but also Prokofiev as a symphonic model for 19th century Russia. The dense nature of the story mandated sophisticated music, but also dynamic cues that could act as a kind of shorthand for the complicated character relationships.
Kaper responded with a fateful waltz for the love story between Dmitri and Grushenka and a melancholy tune for Illusha, a sickly young boy. Other cues utilize colors to convey moods: bells for the religious and philosophical issues essential to Dostoevsky's work; frenzied orchestral writing for the violent passion tearing the family apart; and eerie, dissonant strings for the murderous character of Smerdyakov. A highlight is the arresting main title, where tolling bells, then a violent orchestral frenzy presage a wild gypsy love song.
This premiere CD of The Brothers Karamazov features the complete underscore followed by bonus tracks of source music—various folk tunes recorded by Kaper, as well as gypsy dances recorded on the film's set. The CD is entirely in monaural sound (save one source cue), as it was recorded.