A case can be made that I have waited four years for this set and that a few more days shouldn't make a difference, but on the other hand I've waited four damn years for this set and I don't feel like waiting a few more days.
I haven't listened to any LOTR music recently so I can be as fresh as possible when it shows up. I'm gonna be completely incommunicado for three hours as I play it in 5.1 Advanced Resolution DVD-Audio.
But I'm not that disappointed.
The reason I'm not is because I got a bunch of stuff from Screen Archives consisting of John Barry's Frances (which is an SACD), Maurice Jarre's Top Secret, the expanded complete edition of Ennio Morricone's Once Upon A Time in the West and from Intrada was the complete remaster of Bruce Broughton's Silverado.
Top Secret is completely over-the-top, but since Jarre has always struck me as being over-the-top, I found it great fun. It reminds me of the most aggressive moments of my favorite Jarre score, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. This disc and Crossed Swords have been putting me in a Jarre mood lately. There's no way around it, the guy's music sounds weird to me, but when it works, it works perfectly.
Frances is Barry at his most melodic. There are a lot of ideas here that would eventually be fully realized in Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves, but with sparer orchestration, which actually works in the score's favor. I haven't listened to the CD layer, but the SACD is beautifully rendered, with very attractive strings.
I liked the previous expanded release of Silverado, but this two disc set is unabridged, and the score plays better as a result. The added material makes the program almost twice as long as the original set, and the reason why it improves the listening experience is because the additional time taken to develop the language of the score allows the traditional elements to blend better with the more modernistic aspects. If I had one issue with the previous CD, it was that the Copland-esque stuff didn't sit as well next to the harmonic violence of the action scoring. The new CD has better transitions, and so it feels like a more unified whole as a result. I'll be honest, I enjoyed listening to this score more this time around than I ever had before. I also have to say that the sound quality on this new disc is infreakingcredible. Broughton and original mixer Armin Steiner worked hard on the remaster, and the results show the love.
Okay, but the grand high poobah of all of this is Once Upon A Time in the West. There are few films in the same class as this one when it comes to fusion of image and music (Vertigo falls into the same category). It is a case where the music is an active element of the storytelling, and so even though this score had been remastered and expanded once already, this new release, which is billed as being definitive, was essential for me. And I am glad I got it, as the new disc kicks the old one's ass six ways to Sunday. It is complete and chronological. This meant that listening to the new disc was revelatory, despite my intimacy with the music from its previous two releases. In particular, I have to point out "Duello Finale," which is from the climax where Harmonica's obsession with Frank is explained, a completely unreleased cue that represents the culmination of their respective, yet shared, themes.