Masters And Commanders/Kunzel & The Cincinnati Pops

July 24, 2007


Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops continue to amaze me after listening to them for over 20 years! You would think that after 83 CD’s in genre I couldn’t begin to count, they might be lacking a bit on obtaining fresh and exciting material. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! This 84th release of seafaring film classics called Masters and Commanders offers everything from Captain Blood to Windjammer to selections from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

It is only fitting and appropriate that the CD begins with “Conquest” from the Alfred Newman composed film Captain from Castile. So popular is this melody, it has gone on to become the fight song for the University of Southern California. While some people don’t realize the name of the movie much less the famous Hollywood composer there are many many who are familiar with the tune. The two Korngold selections from Captain Blood and Sea Hawk are both rip roaring standards we have come to know and appreciate. Above others, Korngold set the bar for the way pirate music should sound. Debney with Cutthroat Island gives us a rousing yet romantic score that is one of those cases where the soundtrack is far superior to the film! The Pirates of the Caribbean series of films starring Johnny Depp, are fast becoming one of the more popular series of all time and they are not forgotten in this compilation with 5 selections from “Dead Man’s Chest” and “The Curse of the Black Pearl” written by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer two of the new wave of film composers. Especially noteworthy is the track “Jack Sparrow” which starts with a quirky but outstanding cello concerto which is just the prelude to a bombastic track quite typical of Zimmer and his musical style. One of the more underappreciated themes done by Henry Mancini and performed nicely by Kunzel and the Pops is “Arctic Whale Hunt” from The White Dawn. While Henry will always be remembered for Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Days of Wine and Roses he wrote so much more material that is finally being released from smaller companies such as Intrada and Film Score Monthly. The brass section of the Cincinnati Orchestra got quite a workout and seemed to really enjoy playing it! This selection is a fine example of the versatility and unique approach Mancini use to give to every film he worked on. Rarely if ever performances of The Buccaneer, Captains Courageous, and Windjammer are included something likely new for the soundtrack listener. Other than the omission of one of my personal favorites Moby Dick, there is a nice selection of material and no stone was left unturned. The title of the CD is included with a selection by Boccherini performed by the concertmaster Timothy Lees.

Given the rarity of some of the selections and the genre of the material this is one very nice little gem in a compilation release. The hardened soundtrack collector will raise his eyebrows in disgust but it is not for that person anyway. It is nicely recorded in DSD (Direct Stream Digital), engineered, and available as a SACD recording. I wonder what they have up there sleeve for #85?


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