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Album Review

Alfred Newman's score for the 1947 historical epic Captain from Castile has been strangely under-represented on record. Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra recorded a couple of short excerpts — most notably the rousing "Conquest" theme — during the early '70s on their Alfred Newman compilation, but considering the renown of the rest of the score, that was a surprisingly paltry selection. Finally, in 2003, Screen Archives Entertainment issued this double-CD set derived from Newman's original 1947 studio recordings, comprising the complete music for the film. The 96-minute score holds up amazingly well presented in its entirety; Newman knew how to mix the colors of the orchestra better than almost anybody, and he does it well here for more than an hour and a half of completed score. The music here is a mix of late romantic lushness with a very specific Spanish flavoring, including parts for guitar (courtesy of Vincente Gomez) as well as more standard orchestral instruments. The result is a body of music that encompasses the most intimate and epic-scale material, often within the same section of the score, and it all anticipates the kind of scoring that Miklos Rozsa, in particular, would later write for films such as Ben-Hur and El Cid. The audio quality is surprisingly good given the late-'40s origins of the recordings, a result of 20th Century-Fox's unusually high-quality recordings during the period. The annotation is also excruciatingly thorough, and includes material distilled down from interviews with long-departed participants, including Newman himself.

Newman: Captain from Castile, 20th Century Fox Studio Orchestra
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