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Soundtrack Review

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World Premiere Digital Recording of the Complete 1959 Film Score


Composer: Miklós Rózsa
Conductor: Nic Raine
Performed by: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus
Label: Tadlow Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 October 2017

Tadlow Music releases a special collector’s edition 2-CD set of one of the greatest film scores of all time – Ben-Hur composed by Miklós Rózsa. The complete 157-minute score, including previously unreleased music, has been re-recorded in stunning and dynamic 24-Bit 96kHz digital sound, performed by the award-winning City of Prague Philharmonic, conducted by Nic Raine and produced by label founder James Fitzpatrick...

This isn't just a soundtrack release. What Tadlow Music is offering here is a slice of cinematic history that has never been presented in its original form before. Two CDs (37 tracks - 2 hr, 11 min, 28 sec) of newly recorded orchestral performances which go back to Miklós Rózsa's original source material.

The reconstruction of the music started with the original version of the sheet music registered by MGM with the Library of Congress. Reconstructionist and Rózsa expert, Leigh Phillips, combed through these ‘sketch scores’ – the hand-written music Rózsa would have provided to his orchestrator. He looked at the copious notes written on its pages, and began to both interpret the notes and condense them into new, computer-generated sheet music for the musicians to play.

In addition to the cues recorded for the film, Phillips included music which was written for deleted scenes as well as pieces composed, but ultimately not used in the final version of the film. Guided by Rózsa’s sketches, he orchestrated the music for what would ultimately be a 96-piece orchestra and an 80-voice choir, with additional ethnic instruments, all under the direction of Nic Raine (who actually orchestrated for Rózsa on some of his later film scores).

This is a lush and beautiful score, with Tadlow Music offering much more than just a rerecording of the original source material, or a close approximation. The end result is arguably even better than the original recordings.

One thing I did spot was how similar a couple of themes are are to the later work of James Horner. It's pretty obvious, from hearing this, that Horner's work on Titanic was inspired by Rózsa's work here. 'Balthazar / Balthazar's World' being the most obvious example.

You can't call yourself a lover or collector of film scores until you have this in your music library.

Track listing:

CD 1
(total time 78:16):

01. Overture (6:17)
02. Anno Domini / Star Of Bethlehem / Adoration Of The Magi (5:09)
03. Fanfare & Prelude / Marcia Romana / Spirit & Sword (5:04)
04. Salute For Messala / Friendship / Friendship Continued (5:00)
05. The House Of Hur (2:24)
06. Conflict (1:54)
07. Esther / The Unknown Future* (4:24)
08. Love Theme / Ring For Freedom (5:27)
09. Salute For Gratus / Gratus’ Entry To Jerusalem (4:25)
10. Arrest* (1:28)
11. Reminiscences (2:05)
12. Condemned* / Escape* / Vengeance (3:41)
13. The Prison – Part 1 / Behind Grills** / The Prison – Part 2 / Silent Farewell** (2:23)
14. The Desert / Exhaustion / The Prince Of Peace / Roman Galley (7:36)
15. Salute For Arrius / Quintus Arrius / The Roman Fleet (2:28)
16. The Galley (The Rowing Of The Galley Slaves) / Rest (4:30)
17. Battle Preparations / The Pirate Fleet / Attack! / Ramming Speed / Battle / Rescue / Roman Sails / The Rowers (11:05)
18. Victory Parade / Victory Finale (2:48)

CD 2
(total time: 78:33):

01. Fertility Dance (1:57)
02. Arrius’ Party (1:21)
03. Nostalgia / Farewell To Rome (2:26)
04. Judea / A Barren Coast* (3:51)
05. Balthazar / Balthazar’s World (3:51)
06. Harun Al Rozsad* (2:19)
07. Homecoming / Memories / Hatred (5:23)
08. The Dungeon** / Lepers (3:22)
09. Return / Promise / Sorrow / Intermission (7:34)
10. Entr’acte (Original Version) (3:34)
11. Panem Et Circenses (1:10)
12. Circus Fanfares (0:43)
13. Fanfare For Circus Parade / Circus Parade (Parade Of The Charioteers) (3:33)
14. Ben-Hur Crowned / Bitter Triumph / Aftermath (2:55)
15. Valley Of Lepers / The Search / The Uncleans (5:42)
16. Road Of Sorrow / The Mount / The Sermon / Frustration (5:28)
17. Valley Of The Dead / Tirzah Saved (4:12)
18. The Procession To Calvary / The Bearing Of The Cross / Recogniton (7:56)
19. Golgotha / Calvary** / Afterthoughts** / Shadow Of Storm (2:35)
20. The Miracle / Finale (5:27)
21. Love Theme From Ben-Hur (3:00)

*Not in film
**Premiere recording


Darren Rea

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