Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Miklos ROZSA The Golden Voyage of Sinbad    OST Music by the Rome Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer   PROMETHEUS PCD 148 [54:07]


Crotchet (UK)

This is the CD version of the original OST LP album from the 1973 Columbia film. Interestingly the producers wanted to have Bernard Herrmann, who had worked with Ray Harryhausen on his animated fantasies, to score the film but by this time Herrmann was tired of the genre and declined the offer. Rozsa, of course, had experience of Arabian Nights fantasies through his score for Korda's The Thief of Bagdad. In his interesting preface to the analysis of this score, Rozsa relates how he managed to diplomatically steer the producers away from the notion of a more commercial "Pop- based" Main Title cue. He points out the difference as he saw it between the two films and the two scores. "Although both pictures were inspired by the same source, they were basically different. The first (The Thief of Bagdad) was a romantic tale, full of poetry, not lacking of course the fantastic elements like ...the Djinie who lived in a bottle. The new Sinbad lacks romance and poetry, but makes up for it in adventures and with animated monsters brought to life by the brilliant Ray Harryhausen...The first part of the picture takes place in Arabia, therefore the music has an Arabian character, but then Sinbad navigates towards India, so the music changes to the style of the Indian ragas, but of course both highly stylised, because we are in the land of fantasy. All situations and personages have their distinctive identifying themes throughout the picture."

The early music is very reminiscent of Rozsa's scores for his Biblical and historical epics. His film noire scores are also recalled in the music associated with the evil wizard, Prince Koura. The score is not as melodic as much of Rozsa's work. Melody is reserved for Sinbad and the heroine, Margiana. It seems that the influence of Herrmann rubbed off on this score for the motifs that are used for the monsters are brief and often dissonantly pointed and blended into fast moving action or darkly dramatic music; however, overall, the familiar Rozsa fingerprints are clearly discernible. Indeed, it is interesting to compare this score with, for instance, Bernard Herrmann's music for Ray Harryhausen's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

The opening main titles is pure opulent Rozsa garnished with quasi-Eastern mysticism. Cue 2 uses a synthesiser to startling dramatic effect to evoke a strange flying creature that swoops over Sinbad's ship to drop a golden amulet on the deck. In "The Dream" Rozsa uses harp glissandi and eerie strings with woodwinds and sinister brass figures to illustrate the myriad images that Sinbad sees in his vision. "The Storm" is another powerful evocation of turbulence at sea, you feel not only strong gales shredding sails and torrents of rain lashing the ship, but also an evil machination behind it all. Cue five is more reflective as Sinbad ponders over these events and the ship anchors before Sinbad swims ashore. The next cue, with some interesting brass writing, concerns Sinbad's first confrontation with the evil Prince Koura. The meeting with the Grand Vizier whose face has been mutilated is the subject of the next cue dominated by tremolando strings to turn the music creepily malignant; yet at the same time there is a poignant edge to it. Cue 8 is more placid and romantic for the beautiful slave girl, Margiana, one of Rozsa's lovely lyrical creations, but at length, clouds gather and the music grows increasingly threatening. Back aboard the ship, the evil Koura brings the Siren figurehead of Sinbad's ship to life and to Rozsa's dangerously sultry music, she fights the crew to steal the chart to the treasure of Lemuria Island. Rozsa uses xylophone, nasally muted brass and frenzied swirling strings to depict the conflict on the ship before the Siren makes off with the chart before deep bass chords signify her sinking into the ocean.

The bringing to life of the bat-like monster, the Homunculus is very imaginative, its abominable screechings created with a judicious use of the ondes martenot (which Rozsa had used to such wonderful effect for The Lost Weekend and Spellbound) intermingled with eerie woodwind and string figures. The "Arrival on the Island of Lemur" prompts music of Indian rhythms; this is music of caution and curiosity as Sinbad's crew explore the island and then unresolved high-pitched string figures to represent the "Temple Keeper" summoning the oracle. Weird staccato effects and synthesiser mix with Sinbad's theme when the Homunculus attacks the party in "Escape from the Temple" After beating off Homunculus, another threat appears in the shape of the six-armed statue of the Goddess Kali brought to life by Koura. Rozsa makes her sensual and powerfully dangerous and her combat with Sinbad is intense and close-fought before Sinbad triumphs Bells and cymbals accentuate the miraculous nature of the "Fountain of Destiny" with Rozsa in full romantic flow again then darkly dramatic as Koura is rejuvenated by its waters. A cavernous four-note tuba motif introduces the Centaur and horns announce the winged Gryphon The beasts engage in combat to the death with the Centaur victorious - Rozsa's music recalls his Quo Vadis score here in addition to more lumbering figures and grotesque orchestral slides for the heaving efforts of the gigantic monsters. The Centaur then turns his attention to Sinbad but is bested by the hero. In the penultimate cue Koura is confronted by Sinbad for the last time and the evil Prince killed. The music here is sly and slitheringly sinister, mixed with very realistic sounding parry and thrust sword-play figures. The final cue is of splendour and celebration as the Grand Vizier regains his crown and Sinbad sets sail for home with Margiana at his side.

The CD's documentation is exemplary with good track analyses (although there are 18 not 20 as published with two cues combined not separated as announced). A valuable addition to the Rozsa discography.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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