This complete archival recording of Dimitri Tiomkin's early score for Frank Capra's classic romantic adventure is indeed a very important contribution to the preservation of film music. Lost Horizon wasn't the first score Tiomkin composed in Hollywood - he had worked on about ten films prior to this one - but it was the one that really launched his career. The busy orchestral writing frequently heard in many of Tiomkin's later scores is effectively showcased already in Lost Horizon.
This album features 69 minutes of music, everything in mono of course and with a sound quality that probably will annoy a lot of listeners who are accustomed to Shawn Murphy's engineering. But let's be fair: the original 78-rpm records used for this disc are over 60 years old! In my opinion, the digital editing done here by Ray Faiola, is extremely satisfying. The noise has been reduced without losing the dynamics of the original recording. And there are no pops or clicks! It's amazing what you can do with digital software these days.
The wonderful technical merits of this album hightens the musical experience a lot, because once you get used to the mono sound (don't listen to this after The Matrix!) you have over an hour of wonderful, classic film music to discover and enjoy. Today, Lost Horizon has a somewhat sentimental touch and if you consider the setting of the story - the mountains of Tibet - the music is surprisingly non-ethnic. Tiomkin's score emphasises emotion more than milieu, and although there are several action sequences with a lot of entertaining scherzo writing, it is the romantic qualities of the score that I enjoy the most. Arranged as a continuous suite, the 26 different cues form a unified and coherent whole.
Interestingly, Lost Horizon was conducted by Max Steiner - Tiomkin had not yet taken up conducting. The extremely informative liner notes (the booklet is one of the most impressive ones I've seen actually - 32 full color pages with detailed articles on the film, the score, a cue-by-cue breakdown, and notes about the restoration of the score) also tell about the orchestrations, which in fact (although the score sounds fairly traditional) include some oddities, such as the Tibetan Rata drum, piccolo xylophone and Hammond organ.
Anyone interested in film music history should try to get a copy of this album. It is probably difficult to find in regular CD stores, but check out the soundtrack specialists on the Internet and you will find it. It's worth the effort