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.