The Black Stallion didn't make much impact at the UK box-office - playing
on a brief run with The Secret of NIMH - but was enough of a hit in America
to justify a sequel. The scores to both films are compiled on this good value
album, that for the original film being penned by Carmine Coppola, the music
for the sequel by Georges Delerue.
Carmine Coppola was never primarily a film composer, being a flautist until
called in by his son Francis to provide additional music for The Godfather.
In-fact he made his film debut scoring Francis' swept-under-the-carpet 1961
soft-core porn Western, Tonight For Sure, and in later worked almost
exclusively on film projects in which Francis had some hand. The Black Stallion
was one of these, and the lyrical score he composed could hardly be in greater
contrast to the music he provided for Francis' magnum opus that same year, Apocalypse
Now. Inflected with Arabesque devices and scored for minimal forces such
as cymbalon against strings, or simply flute and harp, Coppola's music is folk-inflected
and filled with a gentle joy and delight in nature which gives it the timeless
quality of the finest Americana. Something of this wide-open-spaces quality
likewise emerges from Thomas Newman's The Horse Whisperer, though
here melodic understatement is occasionally counterbalanced by the
noble grandeur of "The Ride", a majestic set-piece co-written
with Shirley Walker anticipating the heroic qualities of James Horner's Krull.
It should be noted that of the score as presented, Coppola composed 10 of the
16 cues, co-wrote two, and left the remainder to Walker, Nyle Steiner, Bill
Douglass and Dick Rosmini. Nevertheless there is a uniformity of style which
makes this very much a film score entire unto itself. Other highlights include
the "Chase Through Town" with piano by film composer Shirley
Walker and the Plantaginate flute melody of "Dad's Glove and Watch",
music one might more likely imagine coming from the pen of Georges Delerue.
Indeed, as can probably already be guessed, Delerue's sequel score is even
better. The introductory "Alex and The Black Stallion" opens
with gentle solo flute, keeping continuity with the earlier work, the melody
blossoming into one of the composer's trademark soaring yet bittersweet melodies
so familiar from his work with Francois Truffaut. Often achingly lovely with
its fusion of French melodic qualities meeting stirring Americana this is a
simply beguiling score which can not fail to delight true romantics everywhere.
There are many notable selections, from the "Stowaway on the Clipper",
its tender string writing making a home for plaintive woodwinds to the richly
emotional "Together Again" on to the triumphal yet valedictory
8-minute finale, "The Black Stallion Returns".
The Black Stallion score alone would make this disc worth including
in any collection but to have the superior sequel score included for the same
price makes this a particularly desirable release. Anyone enchanted by the lyrical
beauty of George Delerue should try to acquire this album as soon as they can.
The booklet contains worthwhile notes and black and white stills and the sound
is very good through both scores.
Gary S Dalkin
The Black Stallion - );
The Black Stallion Returns -