Notes and Editorial Reviews
Franz Waxman’s score to the perfectly dreadful film Taras Bulba, staring Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, and lots of lots of horses, is a musical masterpiece, full of color, catchy tunes, brilliant orchestration–in short, it is everything a great Hollywood film score ought to be. One track, The Ride to Dubno, enjoys a certainly popularity as a concert work. It sounds somewhat like Boléro meets the Sabre Dance, and it appears three times on this two-disc set: in its original film version, in Waxman’s arrangement for concert performance, and in a version for piano six-hands just because it’s so much fun. Its main motives are present from the outset, in the movie’s brief overture. Once heard, they will stick in your brain forever.
Waxman himself recorded the soundtrack soon after the 1962 premiere of the film, a performance as thrilling as the sonics are dry and studio-bound. It contains much less music than we get here. Cues such as The Chase at Night, The Black Plague, The Battle of Dubno, and the Finale appear for the first time in their extended formats. Others have never been recorded before. The original score and parts perished in a fire some time ago, and so the missing tracks had to be painstakingly restored from the actual film soundtrack and Waxman’s sketches.
For the record, you get the complete score, plus separate versions of all the songs that Waxman wrote for the film, plus a bit of Russian Orthodox church music for no special reason, plus the six-hand piano version of The Ride to Dubno (or Cossack’s Ride, as it’s called sometimes), plus alternate or concert versions of four numbers. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus play and sing with evident gusto under the baton of Nic Raine, and the sonics are brilliant, clear, and if a bit dry still, nothing like as unpleasant as they were for Waxman himself. If you collect great film music, you will need to get this forthwith.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Taras Bulba by Franz Waxman
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
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