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Prague's soundtrack factory

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These musicians – pulled together in various configurations to form an ad hoc symphony without a name of its own – draw quite a crowd. They have collaborated with David Lynch on "Mulholland Drive," with Thomas Newman on "American Beauty," and with Johnny Depp on "Sweeney Todd." Classical music greats such as Sarah Brightman, Shirley Bassey, and David Arnold (who composes the James Bond scores) have all recorded here.

Masters of sight-reading

"The quality gets better every year," says Rick Clark, a producer at Silva Screen Records in London, who is in town recording video-game music. "They nail it the first time. It's spot-on, it's so good." (Silva Screen also used Prague musicians to record the score for "The Queen.")

It wasn't always this easy. Fitzpatrick remembers first recording "Funeral March for a Marionette" (the theme for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents") in 1991 and thinking the assembled musicians sounded worse than a struggling high school grouping.

But things go more quickly these days, and the players have learned to sight-read unusual movie scoring.

"Every member of the orchestra plays with full heart and full passion here," Fitzpatrick says. "Sometimes in London it seems like they don't even try."

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