Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Friday, December 03, 2010


Conan the Barbarian
Music by Basil Poledouris
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Nic Raine
Prometheus Records XPCD 169
Disc 1 - 18 Tracks 60:21 mins
Disc 2 - 14 Tracks 61:48 mins

For the second collaboration between Prometheus Records and Tadlow Music, following their successsful teaming for the complete recording of Dimitri Tiomkin's The Alamo, we now have a new complete recording of another, more contemporary, masterpiece, Basil Poledouris' score for 1982's Conan the Barbarian, the film that gave "The Governator," Arnold Schwarzenegger his first big cinematic break. As before, the music is performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, under the baton of Nic Raine, using Poledouris' regular collaborator Greig McRitchie's orchestrations.
A soundtrack album was issued at the time of the film's release, and an expanded edition followed some years later, but for those of us who love the score, there was always the regret that a complete version never appeared and whilst, in an ideal world, that complete version would be compiled from the original soundtrack recordings, this re-recording is the next best thing.
The score is spread over two discs, and features 14 previously unreleased cues, with five bonus tracks at the end of disc two featuring three alternate cues, two of which are also previously unrecorded, an orchestral version of "Riders of Doom" and, as an extra special bonus, the "Chamber of Mirrors" track from the film's disappointing sequel Conan the Destroyer, the score of which could also do with a re-recording, as it is one of the worst soundtrack performances I have ever heard.
Performances are adequate, though perhaps lacking the gusto of the Alamo recording and there has been some criticism of the recorded sound. The main difficulty I find is that I am so in love with the original performance of the score (even if the composer was himself less than happy with both the performance and recording of it), that, for all its faults, it will always be the definitive recording, rawness et al. Having said that, I very much welcome having all the extra music and, if one cares to take the trouble, I suppose one can always listen to the two recordings in tandem.
The accompanying 24-page booklet is sadly minus original artwork and stills from the film, but does feature some very nice pictures of the composer ( a couple taken at his performance of the score at the 2006 Ubeda Festival, shortly befopre his all too early demise) and his family, as well as some of the re-recording sessions; all these accompanying album producer James Fitzpatrick's introductory notes, cue-by-cue guide and production notes, with a foreword by Basil's daughter Alexis. All-in-all, a fitting tribute to the composer and, along with Lonesome Dove, one of his masterworks.
If you go to www.tadlowmusic/conan.html, you can watch footage from the recroding sessions, as well as order your copy of the album.


Post a Comment

<< Home