Bronislaw Kaper

Quentin Durward [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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The third of Robert Taylor and MGM's trio of medieval costume adventure movies, Quentin Durward had the distinction of a soundtrack composed by longtime studio music department mainstay Bronislau Kaper rather than Miklos Rozsa, who was busy on other projects at the time the film was ready for scoring. The results, based on this limited-edition CD, could not have been happier or more delightful -- Kaper picked up on the screenplay's sense of irony and ran with it, composing a body of music that, for all of its big-orchestra sound and almost operatic density, has a charm and a sense of humor that makes it one of the most sophisticated of all the MGM scores of this period; indeed, it's a miracle that the studio allowed it out, as, at times, the music seems to be having fun at the expense of the story (but, then, so was the movie). Kaper's style here recalls Erich Wolfgang Korngold in the richness and density of his writing, and the depth of many of the dramatic and romantic passages, but then every so often there will come a moment where the music seems to "wink" at you about the absurdity of certain aspects of the title character, and his increasing awareness that his notions of the moral (and martial) aspects of knighthood are dangerously out of place in a world where firearms are making single-combat a thing of a the past. The result is a listening experience that displays a unique charm all its own among the action movie scores of its era; indeed, this CD is the polar opposite of the suite from The Black Shield of Falworth by Hans J. Salter that despite Tony Curtis' all-too-evident Brooklyn accent, presents the movie's visions of derring-do at face value, without any sense of irony whatever. The sound is excellent, as usual for a release on FSM's soundtrack series -- John Green's conducting now seems a wonder of precision and verve -- and the annotation is extremely thorough.

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