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RVF 6007D

Artwork copyright (c) 1989 Intrada; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Excellent recording of early Goldsmith western


With the scarcity of their releases today, it is difficult to believe that the small Intrada label were actually pioneers in terms of film music re-recordings.  Nowadays we simply take for granted the numerous titles every year which see classic film scores being re-recorded with orchestras around the world, but back in the late 1980s it was just about unthinkable.  But Douglass Fake was such a fan of Jerry Goldsmith that he arranged two recordings of classic scores - one, of Islands in the Stream, in Budapest; and the other, Rio Conchos, with the full might of the London Symphony Orchestra.

In fact, the album opens not with Rio Conchos at all, but with a very special bonus track, the full 12-minute prologue music Goldsmith wrote for roadshow presentations of The Agony and the Ecstasy (the actual film was of course scored by his friend Alex North).  Subtitled "The Artist who did not want to Paint", it features five movements and is simply magnificent, one of the most impressive pieces Goldsmith has ever composed, in fact.  A portentous horn opening (almost identical to the opening to the composer's concert piece "Fireworks" years later) leads into a wonderful rich, expressive and colourful suite of music inspired by Michelangelo's works, full of detail and a joy to hear.

Rio Conchos is, needless to say, entirely different stylistically, but it's still something of a landmark in his career, being the first time he employed his now-familiar techniques in scoring action sequences.  It's remarkable really how the young composer came up with this new way of scoring action music which seems just as fresh and exciting today as it did forty years earlier.  The splendid main theme is introduced in "Rio Conchos", subtly at first, performed by solo accordion with percussion accompaniment, before being taken up by the oboe, then the violins.  It's a memorable and particularly satisfying theme, one of Goldsmith's most delightful for the genre.  It gets a full-blown orchestral treatment in "Bandits Ho", a lengthy and accomplished piece of action and suspense scoring (which would of course become Goldsmith's trademark as the years passed).  "The River" is a vigorous and powerful statement of the movie's secondary theme, very strident music that could easily come from a 2004 score; and the proceeding "River Crossing" probably even more thrilling, a wonderfully complex piece of action music that shows how comfortable and confident Goldsmith was with such material even at such an early stage in his career.

The score continues with numerous highlights.  "Wall of Fire" is a wonderful action-orientated, big version of the excellent main theme; "Lonely Indian" a gorgeous piece of restrained americana; "The Corral" presents far grittier, percussion-dominated music, continued in the opening of "The Intruder", but then this is countered by a tender and beautiful oboe theme, backed with a pleasant guitar part, later in the piece.  The album concludes with the very special "Special Delivery", a piece of staggering invention and excitement, a really thrilling way to conclude the album.

This is a fine recording of a fine score, boosted even further by the inclusion of The Agony and the Ecstasy's prologue music.  There are interesting liner notes by Douglass Fake, to boot.  Film Score Monthly also released the original tracks a couple of years ago and, given the rarity of this recording not, that might be the only way to hear the music, but the dynamic stereo sound of this package surely makes this the recording of choice.

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  1. The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Artist who did not want to Paint (12:37)
  2. Rio Conchos (2:26)
  3. Where's the Water? (1:55)
  4. Bandits Ho (6:58)
  5. The River (2:04)
  6. River Crossing (4:22)
  7. The Aftermath (2:06)
  8. Wall of Fire (2:21)
  9. Lonely Indian (3:24)
  10. Chief Bloodshirt (2:27)
  11. The Corral (2:45)
  12. The Intruder (6:00)
  13. Special Delivery (6:12)