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MAF 7061D

Artwork copyright (c) 1995 CPT Holdings, Inc; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall


Major work encompasses many themes, stunning climax

Jerry Goldsmith's work on tv movies is invariably worth a listen, and indeed Masada is one of his very finest works (arguably, the greatest tv score ever written).  QB VII is not far behind.  Based on the novel by Leon Uris, it tells the story of an American writer accusing a doctor of performing illegal experiments on patients during WWII.  The doctor then sues for libel and a courtroom trial in London ensues.  Featuring Ben Gazzara and Anthony Hopkins, the project was the most ambitious work ever undertaken for television at the time, featuring (so producer Douglas S. Cramer explains in the liner notes) a 340-page script, 200 speaking parts and 500 extras, and a four-month shooting schedule.  

Such an epic scale always produces both a great challenge and a great opportunity for a film composer, but obviously none was more suited to handling the pressure than Goldsmith.  His enormous score is so long and features so many different themes that this 35-minute album contains pretty much a new full-length theme in every track.  A fanfare heralds the opening of the main theme, with an beautiful, lyrical theme playing out before the theme comes to its close.  "Journey into the Desert" features some great material that in many ways presages The Mummy (and I bet I'm the first person ever to mention QB VII and The Mummy in the same paragraph).

"I Cannot See My Love" presents the first love theme, though it's not one of the score's stronger points.  "The Wailing Wall" introduces a stunning theme for orchestra and choir for the first time - more on this later.  "The Escape" is a rare piece of action music, similar in a way to something like Papillon, stirring stuff while maintaining a large air of dignity.  Of course, for a Jewish composer like Goldsmith, scoring scenes in WWII concentration camps is always going to be both difficult and inspirational.  As he puts it in his liner notes (liner notes penned by Goldsmith are rarer than hens' teeth, which shows what the project meant to him), "there had to be pain but yet culmination in a feeling of hope."  A cue like "The Holocaust" shows just what he means.  Traditional Jewish music is included on some occasions, such as the theme in "Rekindling the Flame of Jehovah".  Later, a second love theme is heard, very attractive this time, in "Free to Love Again".

The choral music is most striking, from the abstract whispering of "Jadwiga Relived" through the beautiful singing of "A Kaddish for the Six Million", the stunning finale cue.  In it, Goldsmith presents his incredible main theme in a massive arrangement for choir and full orchestra - without question one of the best pieces in his long career, yet one that seems relatively unknown by his standards.

The score was recorded in Italy and while, the sound quality isn't perfect, it's not too bad.  The biggest disappointment really is that less than a quarter of the score is featured on the album.  What is here is unquestionably of a high standard as to make the album highly recommended, but it does whet the appetite for more.

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  1. Main Title (1:53)
  2. Journey into the Desert (3:39)
  3. I Cannot See My Love (3:50)
  4. The Wailing Wall (3:15)
  5. The Escape (1:35)
  6. The Holocaust (2:48)
  7. Rekindling the Flame of Jehovah (2:16)
  8. Jadwiga Relived (4:36)
  9. Free to Love Again (2:48)
  10. A New Life (3:20)
  11. A Sorrow of Two Fathers (2:05)
  12. A Kaddish for the Six Million (2:29)