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Editor's Choice

Best of the Month
for October 2009

 

 

THE BLACK STALLION (1979)

Music composed and conducted
by Carmine Coppola

Additional music by Shirley Walker.
3 CD Box Set

Album Produced by Douglass Fake.
Executive Producer: Roger Feigelson.
CD Edited and Mastered by Douglass Fake.
Album Art Direction by Joe Sikoryak.

Conductors/Leaders: Dan Carlin Jr., Carmione Coppola, Shirley Walker. Score recorded August 21-22, 29, 1979 at The Burbank Studio, Burbank, California; August 30-31 in Beggs, Arizona; September 11 at CBS Studio in Hollywood; October 4 at Evergreen Studios, Burbank, California.

Rating: ****

Limited edition of 1,500 copies.

Disc One: The Complete Soundtrack (Part One - "THE ISLAND") = 52:09

1. Theme from THE BLACK STALLION (Chamber Orchestra)(3:30)
2. Main Title (1:17)
3. One The Deck (2:22)
4. Horse Statue I: Fire On Deck (0:47)
5. The Island (3:24)
6. Nightfall Transition (1:05)
7. Fishing; Magnificent Horse (2:16)
8. Snake; Snake Tag (2:02)
9. Cobra Death (0:29)
10. The Black Stallion; Fire & The Legend (1:53)
11. Fire & The Legend - Alternate (1:13)
12. First Feeding; Seaweed In Hand; Tag in the Afternoon (7:42)
13. Castaways (3:27)
14. Underwater Ballet (1:30)
15. Underwater Ballet - Alternate (1:29)
16. Underwater Ballet - Film Version; The Ride (3:51)
17. The Ride - Original version (2:31)
18. Nightfall - Original Version; Nightfall (2:00)
19. The rescue - Original Version (4:07)
20. The Rescue (4:06)


Disc Two: The Complete Soundtrack (Part Two - "THE RACE") = 38:59

1. Ode to Alec Ramsey (0:31)
2. Home (1:52)
3. Runaway - Original Version (1:34)
4. Runaway (2:21)
5. Training I (1:03)
6. Training I (1:03)
7. Henry's Place; Car Ride (2:42)
8. Secret Room (1:18)
9. Training II - Original Version (4:41)
10. Training II (1:07)
11. Movietone (0:34)
12. Training III (0:51)
13. First Sneak (2:55)
14. Bloody Hand/Dad's Glove (6:27)
15. The Paddock; Fanfares (2:34)
16. Call To The Gate (0:14)
17. Flashback - Original Version (0:48)
18. Flashback & Winner's Circle (1:51)
19. Horse Statue II (0:29)
20. End Credits (3:02 )

Disc Three: Original 1979 Soundtrack Album = 34:55

1. Theme (2:27)
2. The Island (3:22)
3. Cobra Death (1:44)
4. First Feeding (2:07)
5. The Black Stallion (0:41)
6. Playing Tag & Magnificent Horse (2:32)
7. The Legend (1:10)
8. Campfire (0:59)
9. The Ride (2:26)
10. The Rescue (3:51)
11. Dad's Glove And Watch (2:35)
12. Chase Through Town (2:18)
13. In Training (1:53)
14. Henry (1:46)
15. Flashback & Winner's Circle (1:28)
16. Reprise: Theme from THE BLACK STALLION (2:27)

Limited edition of 1,500 copies.

 

This 3 CD box set is quite a feast of subdued pleasure. Unlike more recent scores with their loud drumbeats and electronic wizardry, THE BLACK STALLION is like listening to a chamber music recital or world music. Yes, it's exotic at times but this CD set provides much more treats, by a variety of musicians and composers.

In his excellent CD booklet notes, John Takis describes how the director, Caroll Ballard, wasn't quite satisfied with composer Carmine Coppola's score. As Takis explains,

While Coppola continued to focus on orchestral writing, an impressed Ballard recruited [Shirley] Walker to help develop new underscore for some of the film's more intimate sequences, particularly those taking place on the island. Nyle Steiner, inventor of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) was brough on board, together with guitarist Dick Rosmini, famed Nubian composer and soloist Hamza El Din (to highlight the story's North African connection and a handful of others.

With so many working on THE BLACK STALLION score it would seem that would spoil it with too many many cooks in the ktichen, but instead they have enriched this subtle score with many exotic flavorful sounds that perfectly match this marvelous story, especially on the first disc.

Disc One ("The Island") opens with the very subdued and beautifully simple waltz that is the main theme for THE BLAC STALLION. This theme reminds me of French classical composer Erik Satie's three Gymnopedies piano pieces. This opening main theme (3:33) with a flute solo and a few other instruments is direct and simple. Of the 20 tracks on this disc, 11 of them are unused cues. One of the unused ones, "Cobra Death" (track 9, 2:03), is very effective in accompanying the slinky movement of the snake. An alternate version of this cue was included on the LP soundtrack version (Disc Three, track 3). I found this disc to be the most diverse and interesting of the two which have not been previously released.

Disc Two ("The Race") is considerably shorter than Disc One yet contains much appeal. It opens with a simple and short rehearsal hall piano solo (0:54). There are 8 unused cues on this disc. On the third and fourth tracks are two versions of a cue called "Runaway." The fourth track was used on the LP soundtrack version. One of the loveliest themes is for track 7 ("Henry Place; Car Ride") which Takis describes as "Coppola's emotional theme for Henry (played by Mickey Rooney)." This is heard in a condensed version on the LP soundtrack. Another disc of enjoyable music.

Disc Three (Original 1979 Soundtrack Album) contains portions or complete cues that are found on Disc One and Two. At less than thirty-five minutes, this original LP album only gives a sampling of the riches of this soundtrack. But it is a very satisfying sampling.

What most people listening to this soundtrack will probably remember mostly is the wonderfully simple and appealing Main Theme by Carmine Coppola [shown in picture]. This main theme is included on all three CDs
and never really wears out its welcome.

On Disc Three this theme is heard both at the beginning on track 1 and on the last track as well. This is often done to make sure listeners remember the main theme and as a way of emphasizing it..

The CD booklet is attrractively produced, with numerous illustrations, excellent notes by John Takis, and even a list of all the musicians in the orchestra. Make sure to take a look at the very useful list of all the tracks and who wrote what cue on each of the three CDs.

Bravo to the Intrada production team for taking such care with this wonderful soundtrack.

Even though it was first released thirty years ago, it still holds up extremely well today. The sound quality deserrves special praise for its clarity and crispness.

Because of its overall excellence I'm pleased to name it as Best of the Month for October.

THE BLACK STALLION rides again on this superb 3 CD set.

And you can bet on it for an enjoyable music listening experience!

Highest recommendation.

--Roger Hall, 30 October 2009

 

See also the DVD...

 

The Black Stallion

THE BLACK STALLION

 


 

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