April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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The Magnificent Westerns  
Music composed by Various Artists
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Crouch End Festival Chorus
Conducted by Paul Bateman & Nic Raines
  Available on Silva Screen Records (2005) SILCD1202
Running Times:
[Disc 1]: 71:46
[Disc 2]: 72:39
[Disc 3]: 66:00
[Disc 4]: 63:34
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See also:

  • The Alamo – The Essential Dmitri Tiomkin Film Music Collection
  • The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music Collection
  • The Essential Elmer Bernstein Film Music Collection
  • The Magnificent Westerns is a rip-roaring, bonanza compilation of the most memorable western themes from both films and television. Housed in a handsome four CD box set from Silva Screen, this is an impressive – if unexhaustive – anthology of the Western genre. The set covers themes from composers as central to the genre as Dmitri Tiomkim and Elmer Bernstein to less familiar names like Dee Barton and (more often star than composer) Clint Eastwood.

    Besides the obligatory rehash of material from The Magnificent Seven, The Big Country, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, How The West Was Won, and Dances With Wolves, there is room for more idiosyncratic modern western scores by Jerry Goldsmith (Wild Rovers) and Maurice Jarre (The Villa Rides), as well as samples of the long tradition of western scoring for television (Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, Lonesome Dove among others). A few vocals are also here such as Tiomkin’s Rawhide and High Noon- in the typical western male crooning of course!

    This set is actually an expansion of The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music two CD compilation from Silva from a few years ago. The collection is a wonderful reference source, with a sweeping chronology from John Ford's Stagecoach to Lawrence Kasdan's Wyatt Earp. And the pieces are competently executed, with John Barry’s contributions among the highlights. It’s hard to say which recordings are new but most have been found in various Essential composer compilation CDs on the Silva catalogue, so those who have purchased regularly from this company in the past should check to see exactly how much original material they’re getting in this new collection.

    Of course the question that first comes to mind when presented with a feast like this is – ‘where’s my favourite?’ Broughton’s Tombstone? What about Jerry Goldsmith remarkable jolly and lyrical melodies from Take A Hard Ride and Rio Conchos? Certainly two composers not under-represented are Dmitri Tiomkin and Elmer Bernstein. The Tiomkin selections (Duel in the Sun, Red River, High Noon and many more) heavily recycle recordings previously issued as part of Silva’s Alamo collection of Dmitri Tiomkin re-recordings. The Bernstein selections (including True Grit, The Magnificent Seven and The Scalphunters) are also found on The Essential Elmer Bernstein –Film Music Collection (released last year), so one wishes that the new project had concentrated a little more on what wasn’t already contained in the Silva back-catalogue.

    The CD set is cased in a light cardboard slip on the set with mono toned western pictures in all parts of the artwork. The booklet is skimpy, including track listings, and the director and cast list for the films represented, but nothing in the way of discussion of the fine music contained within. It would have been nice to have some kind of write-up on the genre and pictures as this would have complimented this anthology set. Sound recording is quite good highlighted by such engineers as Mike Ross and Eric Tomlinson. And needless to say, The City of Prague Philharmonic conducted by Paul Bateman, Nic Raine and Derek Wadsworth –all have done an outstanding job re-creating the old west with prairies and openness that you can feel without even watching your favorite western film. There are some ups and downs in the performances (‘Ecstasy of Gold’ is a hard piece to live up to) but mostly the themes are extremely well played and balanced as it is with typical Silva compilation CDs. If you’ve always wanted to make a similarly themed compilation of your own, don’t bother. This set will do it for you just fine. Honestly this is the most enjoyable Silva set in a long time. Now where’s my lasso?

    Amer Zahid

    Rating: 4

    Mark Hockley adds:-

    It’s hard to fault a compilation like this. Four CDs of varied music written by great composers such as Williams, Goldsmith and Barry (to name only three!) is always going to produce a winner. The interpretations on offer here, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, are crisp and buoyant and the selections are always rewarding. Of course, many collectors will already own most of the cues in one form or another, but this kind of a collection will have major appeal for a wide range of listeners, from those who love westerns to those who just enjoy good old fashioned, rousing film music. Whether it’s Morricone’s wonderful spaghetti western sound to Bernstein’s rip roaring adventure motifs, there’s plenty to savour. So saddle up, head for the open range and be reminded how the west was really won.

    Mark Hockley


    Track Listing:
    Disc 1:

    1. The Alamo – Dmitri Tiomkin
    2. The Big Country – Jerome Moross
    3. Blazing Saddles – John Morris
    4. Bonanza – Ray Evans and Jay Livingston
    5. The Comancheros – Elmer Bernstein
    6. The Cowboys – John Williams
    7. Dances With Wolves – John Barry
    8. Duel In The Sun – Dmitri Tiomkin
    9. El Condor – Maurice Jarre
    10. A Fistful Of Dollars – Ennio Morricone
    11. A Fistful Of Dynamite – Ennio Morricone
    12. For A Few Dollars More – Ennio Morricone
    13. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – Ennio Morricone
    14. Gunfight At The O.K. Corral – Dmitri Tiomkin
    Disc 2:
    1. Guns For San Sebastian – Ennio Morricone
    2. The Hallelujah Trail – Elmer Bernstein
    3. Hang ‘Em High – Dominic Frontiere
    4. Heaven’s Gate – David Mansfield
    5. High Noon – Dmitri Tiomkin
    6. High Plains Drifter – Dee Barton
    7. How The West Was Won – Alfred Newman
    8. The High Chaparral – David Rose
    9. The Jayhawkers – Jerome Moross
    10. The Lone Ranger
    11. Lonesome Dove – Basil Poledouris
    12. The Magnificent Seven – Elmer Bernstein
    13. Monte Walsh – Elmer Bernstein
    14. My Names Is Nobody – Ennio Morricone
    Disc 3:
    1. Nevada Smith – Alfred Newman
    2. Night Passage – Dmitri Tiomkin
    3. Old Gringo – Lee Holdridge
    4. Once Upon A Time In The West – Ennio Morricone
    5. The Outlaw Josey Wales – Jerry Fielding
    6. The Professionals – Maurice Jarre
    7. Rawhide – Dmitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington
    8. The Rare Breed – John Williams
    9. Red River - Dmitri Tiomkin
    10. Rio Bravo – Dmitri Tiomkin
    11. The Scalphunters – Elmer Bernstein
    12. The Searchers – Max Steiner
    13. Shane – Victor Young
    14. Silverado – Bruce Broughton
    Disc 4:
    1. The Shootist – Elmer Bernstein
    2. The Sons Of Katie Elder – Elmer Bernstein
    3. Stagecoach
    4. True Grit – Elmer Bernstein
    5. Two Mules For Sister Sara – Ennio Morricone
    6. Unforgiven – Lennie Niehaus
    7. The Unforgiven – Dmitri Tiomkin
    8. Viva Zapata – Alex North
    9. The Virginian
    10. Villa Rides – Maurice Jarre
    11. Wagon Train
    12. The Wild Bunch – Jerry Fielding
    13. Wild Rovers – Jerry Goldsmith
    14. Wyatt Earp – James Newton Howard

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