Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



EDITOR'S RECOMMENDATION- - Retrospective July/Aug 1998


Basil POLEDOURIS Conan The Destroyer (1984) OST - Orchestra Unione Musicisti Di Roma conducted by the composer VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD5392 33:12  


This film was the sequel (the only one) to the original 1982 film Conan The Barbarian also scored by Poledouris. Whatever you feel about the fantasy genre and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Poledouris's music for this film is out of the top imaginative drawer.

Track 1 uses a pounding galloping rhythm and the shreds of the convulsive-heroic theme from the original Conan film. Valeria Remembered is a warm and tender rhapsody recorded very closely climaxing in a bright splendour leaning toward Hovhaness and RVW's Tallis Fantasia. The Horn of Dagoth ploughs a darkly murmurous furrow with a tinkling harpsichord and a rich violin tune strung out over the top. Track 4 has grimly barking brass, thunderous hoof   evocations and that magnificent heroic theme from Conan 1. Track 5 - The Ice Palace - has a chuckling flute theme and deploys the harpsichord to pick out the highlights of the icy fortress. At 6 minutes it is the longest track on the disc. This has a remorseless tread and is not just a picturesque sketch of the palace. From this heavy pacing arises another heroic theme on trumpets high above the massive swinging processional. Tracks 6-8 have a bright jingling atmosphere which sometimes seems to have escaped from the chillier moments in Vaughan Williams Sinfonia Antartica or in Track 8 to draw on moments in Bernard Herrmann's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Never however, do you feel that he has copied anyone. That cannot be said for much film music. Track 10 has another of those lovely and loving melodies. Track 11 takes us back to that superb Conan theme. Track 12 offers another lovely caressing melody over a gamelan related accompaniment. The last track (13) depicts a hideous battle with the monstrous Bombaata and once again the pliable and untired and untiring Conan theme comes into play.

Poledouris is a great original and much under-rated among the people in an industry which has made much of others now regarded as the great names. How many can bring Poledouris's originality, exoticism and imagination and use it to such glorious effect as here and in the first Conan film? None.

The notes by reliable Kevin Mulhall though brief are full of insight. For once the short measure at just over half an hour is completely effaced by the quality of the music. All I would say to V-S is how about a single CD coupling both Conan scores?

This is glorious music with not a single miscalculation. An outright recommendation. Do get this and the original score if you can track it down. If you are an enthusiast for out and out romantic fantasy films and for grand orchestral scores written unapologetically and with no-compromise conviction do get this before it disappears.

Robert Barnett

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