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Friday, April 27, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Big Country

The Big Country
Music by Jerome Moross
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1055 (US)
42 Tracks 74:00 mins

This is probably the definitive release of one of the greatest ever film scores, that by Jerome Moross for William Wyler's sprawling 1958 western, The Big Country. The same programme was issued some years ago by Screen Archives, but this is the first studio-endorsed release and whilst limited to 3000 units, hopefully there should be enough to go round.
The Big Country is quite simply fabulous, filled with wonderful tracks, from the memorable "Main Title" theme, that everyone remembers, and its various, often pastoral appearances throughout the score; to the exciting "The Welcoming" and "The Hazing;" the light and gay "Julie's House;" the flirtatious "Courtin' Time;" the delightful comedy of "Old Thunder;" the tense and powerful "The Raid;" the beautiful dance suite for "Major Terrill's Party;" the energetic, then purposeful "Cattle at the River," also present as part of the exciting "The War Party Gathers;" and the elegiac "The Death of Buck Hannassey," the first of a suite of cues that bring the main themes together to provide for a fine dramatic finish, before the main theme takes us to a suitably grand climax. These are just a few of the highlights of what is a consistently high-quality score.
The score was originally recorded in mono sound, but is digitally edited and mastered for the finest sound possible, and accompanying the disc is a splendid 20-page booklet, with notes on the film, its composer and score, including cue-by-cue guide, by Randall D. Larson, acknowledging the writings of previous commentators. There are also numerous stills from the film, plus an interesting listing of the musicians involved in the performance of the score, which reveals the presence of John Williams on piano, Gerald Fried on oboe and Dominic Frontiere on accordion, all of whom of course went on to be fine composers in their own right.
Any self-respecting film score fan must have a copy of this wonderful release in their collection.


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