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Album running time

1: Main Title (2:07)
2: King Aguar's Escape (2:46)
3: Sir Gawain (2:47)
4: King Arthur Speaks (:56)
5: Sir Brack (4:50)
6: Val Escapes (2:39)
7: Val and Aleta (3:24)
8: Procession (:53)
9: Valiant's Report (1:29)
10: Aleta and Ilene / The Wrong Girl / Aleta (4:20)
11: The Banquet (1:42)
12: The Ring (4:41)
13: Val's Capture (2:27)
14: Trapped (2:06)
15: Escape (5:53)
16: Dash to the Tower (4:35)
17: Sligone's Death (1:08)
18: The Singing Sword / Sir Brack's Death (2:43)
19: Alternative Fanfare (:13)
20: The Pledge / Val Leaves the Island / The Fens / The First Chase (8:25)

Performed by
conducted by

Orchestrated by

Produced by

Released by
Serial number
FSM Vol 2 No 3

Artwork copyright (c) 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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Classic adventure scoring

Of all the great Golden Age composers, Franz Waxman is the least well-represented on CD. Lukas Kendall and co have tried to sort this out and it began when they released his much sought-after score for the 1954 movie Prince Valiant starring Robert Wagner, James Mason, Sterling Hayden and Janet Leigh. Waxman's music is probably more appealing to the more modern-minded film score fan than that of, say, Erich Wolfgang Korngold or Max Steiner; it retains their one-dimensional, black-or-white enthusiasm for the on-screen images, but with occasionally slightly grittier undertones. (Not to diminish Korngold and Steiner's vast musical talent or their immeasurable part in shaping the new art of film scoring; they were just from a different age.)

Prince Valiant is also notable for showing just how much John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith owe their success to the past masters such as Waxman. Take the first three tracks: the first contains a melody that would become the basis for Williams's NBC News theme, the second contains Goldsmith's fanfare from The Shadow, the third contains a motif Williams would pick out and use in The Phantom Menace. The music is ebullient, vibrant and lively, always painting vivid images of the old-fashioned, chivalrous activities going on in the movie. "Sir Brack" is a thrilling piece of action music, representing everything that is good about film music of this period; "Val and Aleta" is an extended presentation of Waxman's beautiful love theme.

The sound quality is exceptional - bold and ballsy stereo sound, with virtually no hiss or distortion. In fact, the sound quality is far better than on some of Film Score Monthly's releases of scores from the late 1960s or even 70s! Particular praise must also be drawn to the booklet - there are great pictures of Waxman, including one of his conducting the very beginning of his score, with the familiar Fox logo projected onto the big screen behind the orchestra, stills from the film, and production shots (including an hilarious one of Wagner on the telephone). But beyond even this are the notes. There's a brief introduction from the composer's son, the well-known score preservationist John W. Waxman, in which he pays tribute to Charles Gerhardt, who died during the production of the album (and the album is in fact dedicated to the legendary conductor). There's intelligent, track-by-track analysis by Doug Adams, FSM's best writer, and also a brief note from Lukas Kendall on the production of the album.

Younger fans take a lot of persuading before they are willing to venture into the realms of Golden Age film music. I still feel that Miklós Rózsa's music makes the best introduction, for it is far less uniformly cheerful than his contemporaries', but failing this, Franz Waxman's Prince Valiant would make a good purchase. For more mature fans, it's essential.