Film Music Review
The Sammy awards
Links
 
 

 

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

Special Merit

  

 

BEH-HUR (1959) - World Premiere Digital Recording of the Complete Film Score

Music Composed by Miklós Rózsa

City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus,Nic Raine, Conductor
Concertmaster: Lucie Svehlova
Choirmaster: Miriam Nemcova
Cello solos: Marek Elznic
Additional Percussion and Ethnic Instruments: Gareth Williams
and James Fitzpatrick
New Score Reconstruction and Orchestrated by Leigh Phillips
Additional Reconstruction by Aaron Purvis
Booklet notes: Frank K. DeWald

Album Producer: James Fitzpatrick for Tadlow Music
Executive Producer: Janet Fitzpatrick
Associate Producer: Leigh Phillips
Recording Engineer: Jan Holzner
Assistant Engineers: Michael Hradisky and Vitek Kal
Edited & Mixed at Pickles Studios by Gareth Williams

Orchestra and Chorus recorded at Smecky Music Studios, Prague,
January and April 2017.

Disc One - The Film Score (Part One) - Playing Time = 78:16

1. Overture (6:17)
2. Anno Domini. Star Of Bethlehem/ Adoration Of The Magi (5:09)
3. Fanfare & Prelude/Marcia Romana/ Spirit & Sword (5:04)
4. Salute For Messala/ Friendship/ Friendship Continued (5:00)
5. The House Of Hur (2:24)
6. Conflict (1:54)
7. Esther/ The Unknown Future* (4:24)
8. Love Theme/ Ring For Freedom (5:27)
9. Salute For Gratus/ Gratus' Entry To Jerusalem (4:25)
10. Arrest (1:28)*
11. Reminiscences (2:05)
12. Condemned*/Escape*/Vengeance (3:41)
13. The Prison-Part 1/Behind Grills**/The Prison-Part 2/
Silent Farewell**(2:23)
14. The Desert/Exhaustion/The Prince Of Peace/ Roman Gallery (7:36)
15. Salute For Arrius/Quintus Arrius/Roman Fleet (2:28)
16. The Galley (The Rowing Of The Galley Slaves/ Rest (4:30)
17. Battle Preparations/ The Pirate Fleet/ Attach!/Ramming Speed/
Battle/ Rescue/Roman Sails/ The Rowers (11:05)
18. Victory Parade/ Victory Finale (2:48)

Disc Two - The Film Score (Part Two) - Playing Time = 78:33

1. Fertility Dance (1:57)
2. Arrius' Party (1:21)
3. Nostalgia/ Farewell To Rome (2:26)
4. Judea/ A Barren Coast* (3:51)
5. Balthazar/ Balthazar's World (3:51)
6. Harun Al Rozsad* (2:19)
7. Homecoming/ Memories/ Hatred (5:23)
8. The Dungeon**/ Lepers (3:22)
9. Return/ promise/ Sorrow/ Intermission (7:34)
10. Entr'acte (Original version) (3:34)
11. Panem Et Circenses (1:10)
12. Circus Fanfares (0:43)
13. Fanfare For Circus Parade/
Circus Parade (Parade Of The Charioteers (3:33)
14. Ben-Hur Crowned/ Bitter Triumph/ Aftermath (2:55)
15. Valley Of Lepers/ The Search/ The Uncleans (5:42)
16. Road Of Sorrow/ The Mount/ The Sermon/ Frustration (5:28)
17. Valley Of The Dead/ Tirzah Saved (4:12)
18. The Procession To Calvary/ The Bearing Of The Cross/
Recognition (7:56)
19. Golgotha/ Calvary**/ Afterthoughts**. Shadow Of Storm*(2:35)
20. The Miracle/ Finale (5:27)
21. Love Theme From Ben-Hur* (3:00)

* = Not in film
** = Premiere recording

Tadlow Music 026

Rating: ****

 

I was pleased and thrilled as well to listen to this eagerly-awaited recording of the magnum opus by one of the greatest of all film and classical composers of the 20th century, Miklós Rózsa.

Having long admired the music from BEN-HUR, I listed it at No. 2 on my list of 100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century. Rózsa received a well deserved Oscar, his third and last, for Best Film Score of 1959. In my book, A Guide to Film Music, I also listed BEN-HUR as one of the best film scores and among the Top Ten scores of the 1950s.

I was first awed by the magnificence of this great film and score when the film was released in 1959. Now I consider it an honor and pleasure to have heard both the original recordings conducted by the film composer, and also this great 2 CD set by Nic Raine with the marvelous City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

Excuse me if I gush a bit about this Tadlow release.

This is one of the best re-recordings of a classic film score I have ever heard. It just overflows with dynamic sound and vivid performances by all.

In addition to the performance by orchestra and chorus, add to that the addition of cues not even in the film plus the premiere recorded ones, and you have one of the greatest film music re-recordings of our time.

The performances and recorded sound quality are SUPERB!

I must give a special shout out to orchestrator, Leigh Phillips, for his masterful reconstruction of this epic score and for adding the previously unreleased cues as well. They are all valued additions.

 

Now, let me return to my more objective critical view.

The tempos on some cues are slower on this Tadlow 2CD set in comparison with the original soundtrack releases, released on the highly recommended
5 CD box set from FSM. But, like symphonic music by classical composers, there is more than one way to perform and record a great piece of music. Both the recordings conducted by Rózsa and this Tadlow release have different interpretations. That is what makes any great music worth hearing. But with this Tadlow release the digital sound quality is far superior to any of the earlier stereo recordings.

Just listen to the thrilling interpretation on the Tadlow CD of "The Rowing Of The Galley Slaves" (Disc One, track 16). If you know this scene in the film, it is a heart-pounding cue with the increasing tempo of the drum beating for the slaves rowing faster and faster. On this recording it is even more intense than on the original soundtrack recording conducted by Rózsa. But that does not mean that the older recording is not good. They are just different. Then there is Track 17, the longest track on both CDs. That track is the famous sea battle in the film. Once again, it is more intense than the original soundtrack recordings, and that is to its favor, since it provides an incredible sonic experience full of orchestral intensity! Also, the mournful music heard on Disc Two, Tracks 18-19, and the triumphant music on Track 20 with orchestra and chorus are all superior to any earlier recording. Ending Disc Two with the exquisite "Love Theme," --not heard in the film -- and beautifully played by violinist, Lucie Svehlova, is a lovely addition to this superb CD set.

The attractively illustrated 16 page booklet begins with a thankful message from the composer's daughter, Juliet. She writes, in part, that

"Ben-Hur was one of my father's favourite scores, he worked on it for over a year - mostly in his beloved Italy...He would have been ever so pleased with this new CD - as am I -and I thank Tadlow Music and James Fitzpatrick for producing my father's magnum opus, recorded in rich digital 21st-century, 'in all its majestic glory.'"

Also in the booklet are excellent notes by Frank DeWald. In addition to mentioning various sources about the film score, DeWald quotes what Rózsa said about this epic film:

"I was fortunate enough to be connected with it from its inception and I felt instinctively that, with its sweeping, human drama and flamboyant pageantry, Ben-Hur needed music which grew out naturally from its atmosphere and became an integral part of it."

That is what makes this film so memorable: the "human drama" and the "flamboyant pageantry." And the composer accompanies both with his magnificent, emotionally-charged music, and adds so much to this epic film in addition to the acting, cinematography and other elements.

In his "Notes From The Producer," James Fitzpatrick thanks Nic Raine and the orchestra and chorus, recording engineer, Jan Holzner, plus the mixing and editing by Gareth Williams. Fitzpatrick ends by writing "as always, thanks to all members of our team, who deserve the real plaudits for these endeavours." Now, wait a minute Mr. Fitzpatrick. You too should be included in that thanks. It is thanks to you that this BEN-HUR re-recording is so successful, since you were so careful in making sure this film score was recorded in the best way possible with your "team" of highly skilled professionals.

Because of his excellent Tadlow and Prometheus CDs I have been pleased to honor many of James Fitzpatrick's releases with 9 Sammy Film Music Awards, the most for any album producer.

As Miklós Rózsa himself has said:
"The music of BEN-HUR is very close to my heart."

That can be said by those of us who agree with that statement. This film score is certainly "very close" to my heart.

I give my highest recommendation to this 2 CD Tadlow release and designate it as "Special Merit" for its overall production excellence.

If you are a fan of this epic BEN-HUR film score, then you should definitely get this superb new Tadlow release.

It should be in any film music fan's library.

 

-- Roger Hall, Film Music Review, 29 September 2017

For any comments on this review -- click here

The 2 CD set may be ordered directly from Tadlow Music


Read the interview with Tadlow Album Producer, James Fitzpatrick,

click here

 

See also this recommended Blu-ray of the film:

 

 

Ben-Hur (50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

BEN-HUR - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)

 

 

For information about his life and music and the lively Forum,
see The Miklós Rózsa Society website:

www.miklosrozsa.org

See the complete Film In Focus list

click here


 

 


 

 

This long running e-zine needs your support.

Please help keep Film Music Review online by ordering any of these titles:

"As Time Goes By" - A Guide to Film Music (6th edition)

Music Masters - Fifteen Film Composers

"OBSESSION" - A Tribute to Bernard Herrmann

 

 

 

Film Music Review



Return to top of this page

 

 

A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC

 

   

 

 

 

 

   
 
   
Contact  

© 2017 PineTree Productions. All Rights Reserved for this written material.