December 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse  
  RHINO RHM2 7764   [77:12]

The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

When The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse was first made in 1921, it made a star of Rudolf Valentino. The unhappy remake of 1961 did nothing for the ailing career of its ageing star Glenn Ford. He was clearly too old for the role of Julio. The odd miscasting of Ingrid Thulin (whose English was barely understandable), cast opposite him as Marguerite, hardly created incandescent chemistry. The film was a flop, which was a pity for it had expensive Paris locations (the film was set in the days of the German occupation in World War II and was about a family divided by the war); and it was directed by Vincente Minelli. One of its saving graces was the score by André Previn who has said that it is his favourite amongst his own scores. Previn was, perhaps, moved by the story line for he, himself had experienced exile, with his family, from the Berlin of the Nazis, first to Paris and then to America.

This appears to be the full score. I have to say that this is another example of stretching a good thing too far. Although the writing is quite impressive, the album’s 33 tracks include too much repetitive material. Much of it is stated in the Overture that contrasts relentless brutal figures representing the Nazi war machine with a long spanned romantic melody that recalls Max Steiner and Alfred Newman. These two themes are developed adroitly throughout the score, the martial music becoming particularly pressing and vicious in such cues as ‘Germans in Paris’ ‘First Subway’ and the latter part of ‘No Divorce’, while the romantic music passes through tender and poignant variations. Some of the music has a nostalgic sentimentality when associated with the family and is something of a mix of Copland and Friedhofer in Best Years of Our Lives mode. For some relief and variety there are several tracks of Latin dance music the best of these being the slinky, alluring ‘Martinique No. 3’.

An interesting insight into the early career film work of a great conductor.

Ian Lace


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