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Alfred NEWMAN - Captain from Castile: Film Music CD Reviews- January 2001

January 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Captain from Castile  
  Symphonic Suite conducted by the composer
  FACET 8103   [42:49]

Alfred Newman arranged and conducted a "Captain from Castile" Suite in the late 1940s for a set of three 78rpm discs from the Majestic label. Some reissues (Mercury and Delos labels) and reinterpretations (Philips, RCA) later, the Facet reincarnation on compact disc in the mid-'80s became the most comprehensive official release now widely available: a magnificent remastered work in a comparatively inexpensive package, with a great history and surprising details.

The score's demulcent string passages and royal brass fanfares are typical of the composer's repertoire, so the fecund interaction of these sounds with the remaining sections of the orchestra show where the beating heart of the soundtrack lies. When Newman's approach drags in a few places, where he holds back for more generic underscore, these moments are brief and not unpleasant. 'Symphonic dances' is a meet description of "Captain from Castile". The most memorable of the cues (never mentioned by name on the packaging) countering any lull is the enormously popular 'Conquest', that bold march further popularized by the University of Southern California's Trojan Marching Band as the team's victory song. Here is an aurally exciting way to warm one's ears in the winter season.

Album production offers only one track, meaning that the listener has to rewind or fast-forward to hear his favorite cues as opposed to simply selecting them or programming them into a personal playlist. This music warrants a complete hearing from the customer anyway, but in the interest of simple courtesy separate tracks & times would have been nice. The liner notes by late filmusic historian & producer Tony Thomas address Newman, the score, and the release's history in a selective fashion, but likewise a manner void of filler facts and hyperbole. Beneficially, keen-eared listeners will notice a marked difference in this recording from its supposed origins. The reason, filmusic historian William H. Rosar and others explain, is that this is not a reissue. Thomas swapped the re-recording with appropriate excerpts from the film's optical tracks!

The score deserves and practically calls out for a full commercial recording, but this "Castile" disc captures most of the underscore's foundation. That this is the best the average consumer can find is regrettable, but nevertheless solid music and a release well worth recommending. It asserts independence in every recorded measure.

Jeffrey Wheeler


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