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MASTERS AND COMMANDERS: Music From Seafaring Film Classics

18 Tracks (Playing Time = 61:42)


Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, conducted by Erich Kunzel. Album produced by Robert Woods.Recording Engineer, CD Mastering and sound effects on WINDJAMMER: Michael Bishop. Assistant Engineers: Bill McKinney, Paul Blakemore, Ben Jacobs. Editor: Paul Blakemore. CD Liner Notes: Richard E. Rodda. Recorded in Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 5, 2007.

Telarc CD-80682

Rating: ***1/2


Continuing their extensive series of film music compilations, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra sail out to sea with this MASTERS AND COMMANDERS collection of past and recent film themes and suites.

The CD opens with Alfred Newman's powerful and popular "Conquest" theme (3:35) from CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE (1948). The next track is from one of my favorite Miklos Rozsa's scores, the majestic theme for "The Mayflower" (3:56) from PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (1952). Following that are selections from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (tracks 3-5) by Klaus Badelt (2003), and the sequel DEAD MAN'S CHEST (tracks 6-7) by Hans Zimmer (2006). These are weaker themes than the earlier ones but they have been very popular films so that's probably why they were included. There seems to be a bit too much bass on some of the tracks, especially on the PIRATES ones.

Other more recent score themes include "Los Manolos" (track 9, 3:27) by Italian-Spanish classical composer, Luigi Boccherini used in MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003), and the "End Title" (track 18, 5:08) from John Debney's big and brassy score for CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995).

There are also other welcome themes from seafaring films, like selections (track 10-11) from Elmer Bernstein's score for THE BUCCANEER (1958), Henry Mancini's memorable "Arctice Whale Hunt" (track 13, 3:42) from THE WHITE DAWN (1974), and Bronislau Kaper's grand "Main Title" (track 15, 2:07) from the first remake of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1962).

Erich Wolfgang Korngold is represented by two milestone scores dealing with the sea, first the Overture (3:22) to CAPTAIN BLOOD, and second the Suite (5:341) for THE SEA HAWK, both are not as sweeping and majestic as the classic Charles Gerhardt recordings with the National Philharmonic from the early 1970s on RCA. But the Telarc sound is still excellent.

In addition there are several themes not heard so often, including Franz Waxman's "Overture" (track 12, 4:19) for the lesser known ANNE OF THE INDIES (1951), also his tender "Suite" (track 16, 5:37) from CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937), plus Morton Gould's fine "Main Title" (track 17, 3:04) from the Cinemiracle documentary film, WINDJAMMER (1958).

The notes by Richard E. Rodda are a model of conciseness, saying a great deal in just a few pages and his descriptions are interesting to read as well.

The striking CD cover painting by marine artist Paul Garnett makes a handsome addition to this CD release.

Once again Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops have provided a well chosen listening collection. Yet it doesn't quite come across as entirely successful. The two Korngold scores are especially disappointing. Still, Telarc has given it their usual high quality technical skill, just a bit too much bass.

If you're a fan of this sort of film music, I'd recommend you take an enjoyable trip out to sea with this outstanding Telarc compilation.


--Roger L. Hall, 10 November 2007

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