The 1960 film The Magnificent Seven was a great success. It was a
remake of Akiro Kurasawas Seven Samurai translated into the Wild West.
Elmer Bernsteins score was devastatingly apt - dynamic, open-air, masculine
music. Scores like this create a genre. The score, quite properly, attracted
an Academy Award nomination. The music gained an even wider and longer-sustained
currency during the 1960s in advertising for cigarettes. In the sequel film
(there were three sequels all suffering, if I remember correctly, from the
usual law relating to sequels and quality degradation). For Return of
the Magnificent Seven, Bernstein re-used the original score. In addition
he re-recorded it for an album. The present, fairly brief, CD (for which
timings are not given on the leaflet) is a reissue for the first time on
CD, of that album plus three atmospheric tracks of OST dialogue.
The score has all the zing and freshness you will expect from a receptive
pupil of Copland. Also there is a probably unconscious influence to be found
in Bohuslav Martinus glorious Fourth Symphony. Sceptical? Well, listen
to the last five minutes of the last movement of the symphony. You should
also note that Martinus six symphonies all date from his years (1950s)
in the USA. I dare to say that the hallmark track (main theme) is more instantly
and enduringly appealing than anything his teacher (Copland) wrote - powerful
and heavens-striding music. The theme, quite properly, returns throughout
the disc. There are other elements, of course. Bernstein suggests the Mexican
locale with the usual stock references but used in a non-cliché-ed
way. Track 5 paints in an Hispanic evening with guitar and a warm open air
feeling. Track 10 again uses the solo guitar in a Mexican Concierto de Aranjuez.
Succulent High Sierra Mexican trumpets register confidently and with high
voltage in track 7. Track 4 is a string elegy of great and uncloying power.
Bernstein has a great empathy for the brass. He is not above the influence
of Randall Thompsons Second Symphony and Walter Pistons Second,
Third and Sixth Symphonies. These works of the 1940s were the quarry from
which much Western film music was mined. In turn the Magnificent Seven music
must have been the inspiration for such punchy TV Western themes as The Virginian
and The High Chapparal as well as providing an easy mark for the Blazing
Excellent notes again by Jeff Bond. The notes include original poster art,
the cover of the LP, stills and location shots. Mr Bond explains the complex
relationship between the music on the original album of the film and the
music of the film itself. I wish we could be told about the orchestra, recording
venue etc and the conductor who made this recording. Sound quality is healthy
with an infrequent hint of edge when the sound is loud and saturated. The
tracks date from 1967, after all!. Nothing to worry about.
This is a classic album, although it offers rather short measure. Could nothing
be done to rescue some tracks from the OST, I wonder? It is only this aspect
which forces the star rating down. The music is up there with the best. Just
a pity that there is not more of it.