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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


El Cid
Music by Miklos Rozsa
Tadlow Music TADLOWCD005 (UK)
Disc 1 - 27 Tracks 75:53 mins Disc 2 - 21 Tracks 73:39 mins
Disc 3 - 8 Tracks 32:21 + Footage and Interviews from the recording sessions

Just now and again I get the opportunity to review something that I can say without a doubt should be in the collection of every self-respecting film music enthusiast. This is just such an occasion, the release by Tadlow Music of Miklos Rozsa's complete score for the 1961 epic El Cid, which starred Charlton Heston as the legendary Spanish knight, a film (and score) I am sure most of you will be familiar with. It is one of the last of the great biblical/historical epics and Rozsa's score is simply one of the best ever written for film. It also happens to be a personal favourite of Tadlow's James Fitzpatrick, who undertook the huge task of producing this wonderful re-recording - a pure labour of love.
Previous recordings have of course been available, the original 40-minute-plus Rozsa-conducted album, last available on CD on the now sadly demised Chapter III label, and a not totally successful expanded re-recording by Koch. Here, Fitzpatrick and his team of Nic Raine, who conducts, as well as reconstructed the music (along with Patrick Russ and Jeff Atmajian), present the complete score, much of which is heard for the first time ever, as the composer's music originally suffered at the hands of the film's editors, and what's more the original masters have been seemingly lost forever.
Regular Tadlow and Silva Screen (with which Fitzpatrick has of course also produced many fine albums) orchestra the City of Prague Philharmonic and Chorus perform the music, and it's fair to say that on the whole this is one of the finest performances yet. Of course, one can always find differences in expression and tempo, if one looks hard enough; some of these deliberate decisions, as in "The Fight For Calahorra," which is taken at a faster tempo. To my ear at least, Rozsa's original opening fanfare is certainly more dynamic, and the original "Prelude" displays more of a Spanish flourish at times; but overall this is a very fine effort indeed, at times near to perfect, especially in the more intimate moments. And, let's face it, a lot of the music presented here is new and therefore we have nothing to compare it to, in any case. As for all that new music, there are plenty of new and exciting moments to delight.
As if all 150 minutes or so of Rozsa's score is not enough for you, disc 3 also presents seven extra tracks of alternate versions and takes, including the vocal version of the Epilogue "The Falcon and the Dove." And to round things off, we are treated to five videos (for which you will need QuickTime on your PC), four of these sessions videos, the other a Q & A by Doug Raynes with Raine and Fitzpatrick. Add on a new performance of Christopher Palmer's suite from Double Indemnity, and a great 28-page booklet, featuring forewords by Rozsa's daughter Juliet and renowned director Martin Scorsese, extensive notes and cue-by-cue guide by Frank K. DeWald of the Miklos Rozsa Society, who once wrote an extensive musical analysis of El Cid for the Society's publication Pro Musica Sana; as well as Fitzpatrick's notes on the production of this monumental recording, and you have what amounts to just about the most perfect presentation of a film score you could ever wish to own. So, what are you waiting for, get along to and order your copy now. You won't be sorry.
I would just like to thank James Fitzpatrick for making this review possible, and even more so for undertaking this tremendous task, which sees at least one of my personal dreams come true.


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