As much as I admit that The Ten Commandments is a magnificent score, I must go out on my own limb and say that next week’s new release will actually get more playtime from me… at least for awhile. And yes, of course, I find Elmer Bernstein’s biblical epic to be a certified masterpiece. There’s no comparison being made here. I refer only to something nostalgic from my childhood. In any case, I try not to stir up too much enthusiasm for an upcoming release because excessive buildup often leads to disappointment. But here I go anyway.
For those of you who enjoy big-scale scores for large orchestra by big name composers with a history of masterpieces, the new release this coming Tuesday will probably interest you. It’s a complete 2-CD restoration to a magnificent score from some five decades ago. Expanded brass, lots of percussion, expanded woodwinds, all manner of low strings… an angled, dramatic main theme, intense action music… yep, some great stuff. It’s also a “roadshow” presentation so you’ll be getting overture, brief intermission card, entr’acte and exit cues.
Anyway, when I was a kid and saw the movie I absolutely worshipped the brass fanfare that concluded the overture and also ushered in the ending to the first half of the movie. But when it reappeared to close out the picture, I was delirious. It’s a sharply angled piece that leads with five trumpets over percussion. Soon six French horns respond, then five trombones and it’s a just a knockout! Maybe a bit of Copland but more savage and austere. More reminiscent actually of another more-celebrated masterwork by this composer from earlier in the decade. Just a piece of music? Maybe. A short bit of noisy brass? Perhaps. But let me hear it again and again. I actually made every friend who came down to our studio a couple of months ago suffer through it, literally cranked up to eleven. I didn’t even feel guilty when their ears bled.
Anyway, this one’s for me. I financed the project simply because I wanted to be able to play this entire score at long last. I’m no longer that little kid but I am still a worshipper for this music. The entire score is in vivid stereo from multi-track masters that were vaulted in perfect condition, too. So I guess I’ve built this one up enough. Will it live up to this reputation? Maybe not for everyone else. That’s ok. I have my copy in hand.