Drango (1957)/Bernstein

July 25, 2011

Composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein between The Ten Commandments (1956) and Desire Under the Elms (1958) this Jeff Chandler production starring Jeff Chandler, Julie London, and John Lupton was a somewhat depressing view of a ravaged Georgia town after the Civil War. Produced and directed by Hal Bartlett who is best known for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the picture attracted little attention but the soundtrack was another matter. As we’ve discovered over the years there hasn’t been a style that Elmer couldn’t write for and not produce something of high quality. It is nice to see Kritzerland releasing a series of his 50’s material.


“Prelude” begins with snare drum and timpani followed by brass offering a military motif and then the orchestra grabs you with the main title theme you’ll hear on several tracks. While not the big powerful melody of The Magnificent Seven (what is?) it is an attention grabber that you’ll recognize. “The Hanging” offers a similar snare drum and timpani with mourning cello offering a sad dirge like theme. “The Search” begins with a return to the main title with full orchestra. The 4+ minute track also offers a pretty Irish melody played in a dance style. “Katy” offers a melancholy theme on first the flute, oboe, harp and then the cello. “The Gathering Storm” is a track filled with yearning tension which makes reference to the prelude as well as quieter moments from the oboe, flute, and string quartet. “The Plotters Fail” is a flute driven track offering the prelude again before there is a dissonant brass moment of glory with the track shifting back and forth. “The Children’s Gift” offers a wonderful playful exchange between a flute, bassoon and oboe ably backed with harp. “Ransom House Waltzes” is a series of three melodies two of which are pleasant waltzes with small orchestra and the last being with full string section. “Drango and Katy” is a yearning love melody mixed in with a military theme that provides a good track very Bernstein in sound. “Drango’s Chance” starts with beginning tension with tremolo strings and leads the listener into all sorts of styles and orchestration. I like how he uses the brass, timpani, and harp. “Love and Justice” begins with a snare drum in sync with the horns. A dissonant brass section leads the listener to a yearning section classical in nature from the strings before the prelude theme is the concluding statement.

The mono recording is a clean transfer that offers a nice high end where there is definition in the trumpets and not a shrill sound you sometimes hear. There is good definition from the oboe solos and the harp is quite distinct sounding. The Rex Allen vocal was never included in the Liberty (LRP 3036) or any release that I’m aware of. If you wish it is available on Jasmine Records as a re-recording. This release is limited to a 1000 units so it is best to act sooner rather than later as Kritzerland usually sells out his material quickly.

Track Listing:

1…. Prelude (Drango Comes to Kennesaw Pass) (3:36)

2…. The Hanging (1:47)

3…. The Search (4:39)

4…. Katy (2:12)

5…. The Gathering Storm (3:37)

6…. The Plotters Fail (6:02)

7…. The Children’s Gift (3:36)

8…. Ransom House Waltzes (3:26)

9…. News From Dalton (2:22)

10…Drango and Katy (2:25)

11…Drango’s Chance (4:16)

12…Love and Justice (4:45)

Total Time is 43:13

Kritzerland KR-20019-5


One Response to “Drango (1957)/Bernstein”

  1. Good review, Tom. I find a lot to enjoy in this release.

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