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Alexander the Great

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Album Review

"The Overture from Alexander" is hardly an unmixed track, as Richard Burton's voice, playing the title character, is heard before the real fanfare begins, indicating that all DRG had to work with here was film production, rather than music production elements. The sound is slightly tinny, even by the standards of the mid-1950s, while softer passages display a fair amount of noise, suggesting that something other than first-generation studio sources were used. As to the music itself, it's pleasing epic material, a mix of ancient, ethnic African, Middle Eastern and Italianate influences, heavy on the percussion and the brass (no strings at all), but not lacking for gorgeous passages on oboe and guitar as well. None of it will make anyone forget Miklos Rozsa, but Nascimbene has his own style, leaner and less linear in his melodic content. Barabbas is a darker and, also, a more creative and impressive score. Nascimbene used all kinds of electronic effects to create sections of the music such as "Eclipse," which features a gong recorded at half-speed and amplified in playback, mixed with a soprano and contralto, and sustained notes on the violins. The material is very haunting, and stands alone in the annals of epic film music. And the sound on Barabbas is clean and sharp except for "The Death of Barabbas," which is marred by heavy noise (as well as containing Anthony Quinn's dying words in the role. Would that Alexander matched Barabbas musically, we'd be talking about a virtual must-own CD for movie music buffs.


Born: November 28, 1913 in Milan, Italy

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Italian composer Mario Nascimbene was one of the first European composers to find a niche in Hollywood in the years after World War II. He established himself in Italian-made movies such as OK Nero, Rome, 11 O'Clock (1952), Chronicle of a Murder (1953), and Angela and the 100 Years of Love (1954), before coming to the attention of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who asked him to score his production of The Barefoot Contessa, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner. This film's success led to other requests...
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