With over seventy minutes of music, you certainly get value for money with
this new compilation of themes and suites from a variety of Arnold Schwarzennger
films and generally speaking the City of Prague Philharmonic give a pretty
good account of themselves.
The proceedings open with Alan Silvestri's fine main theme from
Predator and if this version lacks the cohesiveness of the original,
it still manages to impress. Goldsmith's Total Recall comes next and
while the strings are represented quite well, the distinctive rhythmic elements
are less persuasive. Even so, it's a fair rendition of another strong theme.
James Horner's main title for Commando leaves something to be desired
however, particularly the synthesiser and percussion work. It's interesting
to also note how much this piece has in common with his own far superior
music for Gorky Park.
Three pieces from Red Heat follow, although this is a minor example
of Horner's action scoring. There seems to be little wrong with the
interpretation and it becomes more interesting in the latter stages, but
I get the impression from this and various other tracks, that it's considerably
easier to recreate orchestral work than it is to emulate the electronic aspects
of a score.
Two pieces from Kindergarten Cop by Randy Edelman are up next with
"The Astoria School Theme" coming across quite well with its appealingly
simple melody. "The Children's Montage" is a less attractive, but bolder
variation on this theme and unfortunately begins to outstay its welcome before
the end. Twins composed by Georges Delerue, is a gentle motif for
harp and piano that concludes with an intriguing music box arrangement and
this is supplemented by one of Randy Edelman's additional cues from the same
film, "Going to Santa Fe" which is upbeat and funky, but to be truthful not
really my kind of thing.
James Newton Howard 's Junior begins as a fairly bland theme, but
develops into a surprisingly engaging piece with nicely understated string
work and big brassy interludes. Far more accomplished and inventive than
you might initially expect. The synths are back for Raw Deal, augmented
by bass, drums and electric guitar and it all works rather well. Composed
by the foursome of Gaudette, Bahler, Boardman and Galuten, this is reminiscent
of Brad Fiedel's work, but sadly it loses focus about half way through.
The effective main title from The Running Man may come as a surprise
for those who remember the film rather than the score, but Harold Faltermeyer
certainly came up with a solid theme that gets an equally robust presentation
here. The aforementioned Brad Fiedel steps up next with his theme from The
Terminator, which has become something of a modern classic now. This
version does it no harm at all and it's impossible to resist that simple
but dynamic melody, supported by a well realised mechanical drum pattern.
A highlight. Fiedel's work on the sequel Terminator II is also presented
as a suite with "Desert' providing some ominous, low-key synth work with
an additional touch of acoustic guitar. But things kick into high gear with
the pounding "Trust Me" which effortlessly commands the attention. It may
be brief, but it's undeniably stirring.
"It's Over" is another variation on the original Terminator theme
and if this doesn't quite do it justice, it would require a complete disaster
to rob this of its potency.
True Lies, also composed by Fiedel, is given an extended suite including
the "Main Title" and although there appears to be little wrong with the
rendering, this is really nothing more than routine action fare with little
to recommend it. Wisely, the best is saved for last with a suite of cues
from Basil Poledouris' magnificent Conan the Barbarian. I have to
confess that this is probably my own personal favourite score, so I approached
this with both anticipation and a little wariness. Fortunately, for the most
part things turn out rather well. "Prologue" is gently compelling with its
low strings and woodwork setting up "Anvil of Crom", the main title theme
in the film itself. This comes off less well as the cymbals are slightly
jarring and I felt that the arrangement left something to be desired. Just
a little disappointing, but even so who deny the quality of such a fine theme!?
Everything comes together though for the outstanding "Riddle of Steel/Riders
of Doom" with its gentle, beautiful first half before a bold, stirring reading
of what I consider to be one of the finest pieces of film music ever written.
With its fine choral work and some nice little variations on the original,
this is wonderful stuff indeed!
"Chamber of Mirrors/Crystal Palace" is taken from the sequel Conan the
Destroyer and is especially welcome because it features several of the
new cues Poledouris used to complement his original work. A brief, but immensely
enjoyable adventurous theme stands out amongst uniformly strong material.
If the final track "Anvil of Crom-Finale" seems a little redundant as it's
no more than a reprise, enough has come before to dispel any slight feelings
An entertaining collection!