Like the pealing bells over Paris, Walt Disney Records has heralded the arrival of one of its most beloved recent archival projects with the surprise, impending release of an expanded score to the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame - the 14th release in the label's Legacy Collection series.
It's only the third release in the series since two generous batches of titles in 2014 and 2015; an expansion of the music of animated films Robin Hood (1973) and Beauty and the Beast (1991) appeared in 2017 and 2018. (Rumors had persisted of new mixes commissioned from recording engineer Bruce Botnick of both Hunchback and 1992's Aladdin.) Hunchback, like its predecessors, comes in a 2CD set featuring the full contents of the original soundtrack from 25 years ago, plus the entirety of Alan Menken's orchestral score, a baker's dozen of demos by Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, an outtake from the final film, and even a pair of translated numbers for a critically-acclaimed German-language stage version of the story. As with all previous releases, Disney artist Lorelay Bove has designed the package with unique new illustrations inspired by the animated film.
Based on Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, Hunchback tells the story of Quasimodo (Tom Hulce), the bellringer for the Notre Dame cathedral. From high above the city, he wishes to interact with citizens, against the protests of his villainous caretaker, Judge Claude Frollo (Tony Jay), who detests Quasimodo's physical deformities. Eventually, with the help of an enchanting Romani named Esmerelda (Demi Moore) and a sympathetic guard (Kevin Kline) - not to mention a trio of enchanted gargoyles! - "Quasi" sets out to prove, as one of the songs goes, "what makes a monster and what makes a man."
Hunchback continued an incredible hot streak for Disney's animation department that stretched back to 1989, bringing back directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, whose Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film to score a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. After the animal kingdom drama of The Lion King (1994) and the revisionist history of Pocahontas (1995), Hunchback perhaps went darker than most of the films of the Disney renaissance, touching on themes of racial prejudice, Christian dogma, and even shades of physical lust (in the case of Frollo's musical soliloquy "Hellfire," all three at once). The score by Menken and Schwartz - reunited from their work on Pocahontas - upheld the tradition of strong Disney scores, with moving tunes like "Out There" and "God Help the Outcasts" (also recorded in a pop style by Bette Midler for the film's credits) and set pieces like "Topsy Turvy" and the epic bookend "The Bells of Notre Dame." Among the outtakes in the package is a film version of the song "Someday," intended for Esmerelda but cut from the picture; only All-4-One's pop version remained on the soundtrack. Fan favorite demo "In a Place of Miracles" will also be included, alongside two songs from a German-translated stage version of the film, one of the country's longest-running musicals. (A different stage adaptation premiered in the U.S. in 2014.)
The expanded Hunchback is currently available through the Disney Music Emporium store, with a release date of September 22 (a Wednesday). More order links will be made available as they are found.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Walt Disney Records - The Legacy Collection (Walt Disney Records, 2021)
- The Bells of Notre Dame - Paul Kandel, David Ogden Stiers, Tony Jay and Chorus
- Morning in the Bell Tower - Alan Menken
- Out There - Tony Jay and Tom Hulce
- The World Outside - Alan Menken
- Feast of Fools - Alan Menken
- Topsy Turvy - Paul Kandel and Chorus
- The Pillory - Alan Menken
- Humiliation - Alan Menken
- Frollo's Judgement - Alan Menken
- God Help the Outcasts - Heidi Mollenhauer and Chorus
- The Cathedral - Alan Menken
- Heaven's Light/Hellfire - Tom Hulce, Tony Jay and Chorus
- Find the Girl - Alan Menken
- A Guy Like You - Jason Alexander, Charles Kimbrough, Mary Wickes and Mary Stout
- Escape - Alan Menken
- The Court of Miracles - Paul Kandel and Chorus
- Sanctuary! - Alan Menken
- And He Shall Smite the Wicked - Alan Menken
- Emergence - Alan Menken
- The Bells of Notre Dame (Reprise) - Paul Kandel and Chorus
- Someday - All-4-One
- God Help the Outcasts - Bette Midler
- The Bells of Notre Dame (Demo) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- Die Glocken Notre Dames (from the Musical Der Glöckner von Notre Dame) - Jens Janke, Norbert Lamla, Carlo Lauber and Chorus
- Out There (Demo 1) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- Out There (Demo 2) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- Draussen (from the Musical Der Glöckner von Notre Dame) - Drew Sarich
- Topsy Turvy (Demo 1) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- Topsy Turvy (Demo 2) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- God Help the Outcasts (Demo 1) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- God Help the Outcasts (Demo 2) - Heidi Mollenhauer
- Someday (Demo) - Alan Menken
- Someday - Heidi Mollenhauer
- In a Place of Miracles (Synth Demo) - Alan Menken, Heidi Mollenhauer and Stephen Schwartz
- Hellfire (Demo) - Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
- Heaven's Light (Reprise - Demo) - Alan Menken
- A Guy Like You (1st Demo) - Alan Menken
- A Guy Like You (Full Demo) - Alan Menken
Disc 1, Tracks 1, 3, 6, 8, 10-12, 14 and 16-18 and Disc 2, Tracks 1-4 released on Walt Disney Records 60893-2, 1996
Disc 2, Tracks 6 and 9 released on Disney's Der Glöckner von Notre Dame (Die Höhepunkte der Weltpremiere im Musical Theater Berlin) - Stella Music (DE) 547 836-2, 1999
Gunnar R says
Well that is a surprise.
I only hope next year for their 25th, 30th, & 45th anniversaries, that Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Aladdin, & Hercules get the "legacy collection" treatments as well.
Any information from Disney Records on availability of the CD outside of the Disney Music Emporium?
Disney Music Emporium seems down right now. Nothing on Discogs or Amazon.
Where can someone buy the physical/CD version for this release?
Joe Marchese says
Hi Julien, Disney Music Emporium is back up. I believe they're currently the exclusive retailer for this CD.
Hope this helps!
Indeed it came back up (might have been related to the AWS issues this week).