Film Music Review
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Retro Review

After 50 years, BEN-HUR remains one of the most impressive Hollywood epics.

This CD set, now something of a collector's item, pays tribute to one of the most respected Hollywood film music masters, Miklós Rózsa
(1907-1995), with excerpts from many of his greatest film scores.

It was chosen Best of the Month for November 2000.

Ben-Hur: The Essential Miklós Rózsa

BEN-HUR: The Essential Miklos Rozsa

2 CD set.  The City of Prague Philharmonic, conducted by Kenneth Alwyn, Paul Bateman and Nic Raine; Crouch End Festival Chorus, David Temple, Musical Director. Produced by David Wishart and James Fitzpatrick.  Executive Producer: Reynold da Silva.  Associate Producers:   Nic Raine and Paul Bateman.  Album Design: Colin Parker.  Sleeve notes:   David Wishart.  Chief Digital Recording Engineer: John Luard Timperley.  Assistant Engineer: Jan Holzner.  Dolby Surround and HDCD mastering: Gareth Williams and Ian Shephard.  

Silva Screen America SSD 1117.

Rating: ****


Track Titles:

Disc One (52:19)

BEN-HUR (1959) - Suite

1.  Prelude (3:42); 2. Love Theme (2:58); 3. Parade of the Charioteers (3:38)


4.  Valse Crespesculaire/ Finale (6:10)


5.   Caesar Now Be Still/ Finale (6:26)

EL CID (1961)

6.  Overture (3:32); 7. LoveTheme (4:15)


8.  Overture (5:03)


9.  Prelude/ The King's Visit & Farewell (6:41)


10.  Concerto for Orchestra (9:34)

Disc Two (51:33)


1.  Main Title (2:20); 2. The Love of a Princess (4:49); 3. Flying Horse Gallop (1:37); 4. The Market at Basra (3:02)


5.  Prelude (2:50); 6. The Lord's Prayer (2:44)


7.  Main Title/ Finale (5:07)


8.  Waltz (4:47)


9.  Prelude/ Sinbad Battles Kali/ Finale (4:52)

QUO VADIS (1951)

10.  Prelude (2:21)

11.  Arabesque (5:22)

12.  Romanza (6:37)

13.  Ave Caesar (4:52)


Over the years, Silva Screen has produced a number of fine 2 CD compilation sets for such composers as:   John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard  Herrmann and James Horner. This latest set is one of their best.

For those who love Rozsa's film music, and I'm one of them, this is an outstanding collection worth savoring for its many delights.  

There are 23 tracks from 13 different films covering the years from 1940 to 1977.  Many of these are from Rozsa's epic classics, including:  BEN-HUR, JULIUS CAESAR, EL CID, KING OF KINGS and QUO VADIS.   Both discs have much to enjoy.    

The first disc opens with a suite from probably Rozsa's greatest score, BEN-HUR. I chose this as No. 2 just behind Herrmann's CITIZEN KANE on my list of 100 Film Scores of the Century.   The three tracks provide a good sampling of the riches found in this breathtaking score, from the majestic Prelude to the gorgeous Love Theme and on to the memorable Parade of the Charioteers.  Next follows two cues from one of Rozsa's last scores.  The Valse Crespescilaire is especially beautiful.  Following  JULIUS CAESAR and EL CID with two tracks apiece, there is a wonderful Overture to SODOM AND GOMORRAH and  two emotion drenched cues from BEAU BRUMMELL.  The first disc closes with the Concerto taken from themes in SPELLBOUND, for which Rozsa received the first of three Academy Awards.

 Disc two has more delights.  It begins with the suite from THIEF OF BAGDAD, a wonderfully entertaining Arabian Nights fantasy.  Especially enjoyable are "The Love of a Princess" (beautifully played) and the whimsical "Flying Horse Galop." The other tracks are all worth having.  The Crouch End Festival Chorus sings with great fervor on the KING OF KINGS and QUO VADIS cues. 

The playing by The City of Prague Philharmonic is mostly very good, under the direction of three different conductors, who each have made many recordings for Silva.

The CD notes by David Wishart are succinct and very informative.  For once the album design doesn't detract much from reading Wishart's finely crafted notes.  Oddly enough, the notes that are hardest to read are those for the title score, BEN-HUR.  But even they can be read if your eyesight is strong enough.

As usual with Silva recordings, the Dolby Surround sound on these two discs is superb.  

This compilation makes a nice companion to the more authoritative Rhino set,
MIKLOS ROZSA AT M-G-M, conducted by the composer.

If you want to hear re-recordings of score themes by one of the greatest film composers, then this compilation is about as good as you're likely to find anywhere.  

Rozsa's music deserves top notch sound and that's what you'll hear on these two discs.  

I highly recommend this wonderful compilation.


-- Roger Hall, 3 November 2000

For more information, go to:

For those who want the ultimate recordings of BEN-HUR, this remastered set of the complete original soundtrack is the best:


Ben-Hur - A Tale Of The Christ: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1959 Version)

BEN-HUR (2 CD Box Set)



Also the DVD of the film...



BEN-HUR (1959)





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