City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

Epics: The History of the World According to Hollywood

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Reynold DaSilva's Silva Screen Records has built up quite a library of music by having the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (which presumably works cheaper than a name orchestra from Western Europe or the U.S. would) create new recordings of film scores, enabling the label to then recycle the material into thematic compilations such as this one devoted to music from "epic" motion pictures. The subtitle, "The History of the World According to Hollywood," calls to mind the books and History Channel shows devoted to examining how historical movies differ from history as historians know it. But no such analysis is attempted here. (In fact, there are no liner notes.) Instead, the idea is to present music from big-budget movies about the past, in roughly chronological order, that is, chronological order of history itself, not the movies, so that the first track on the first disc is a suite from Mario Nascimbene's score for the 1966 film One Million Years B.C., best remembered for Raquel Welch cavorting in a furry bikini, and the last track on the fourth disc, arriving more than four-and-three-quarters-hours later, is Ernest Gold's overture from the 1960 film Exodus, a dramatization of the struggles leading to the establishment of Israel in the mid-20th century. In between, as subheads helpfully note, we get music associated with films depicting "The Ancient World" (quite a few of those), "The Fall of Rome," "Biblical Epics," "Medieval Europe," "Pirates & Swashbucklers" (how did they get in here?), "Kings & Queens," "Heroes," "The New Worlds," and "The British Empire/The Orient." This organization makes sense only on paper, of course. On disc, the collection mixes up scores written between 1935 (Erich Wolfgang Korngold's main title from Captain Blood) and 2004 (Vangelis' "Across the Mountains" and "Eternal Alexander" from Alexander, James Horner's "Remember" from Troy, John Debney's "Resurrection" from The Passion of the Christ), which means the music was written for epics of very different kinds. As a general statement, epics tend to bring out big orchestral effects from composers: grand themes, martial rhythms, and choruses wordlessly emoting or singing in Latin. (Either the Prague's chorus or the Crouch End Festival Chorus obliges where necessary.) But especially the more recent works by composers such as Horner and Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Last Samurai) can be more subtle. Perhaps appropriately, this epical music is all over the map.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
One Million Years B.C., film score
1 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:18 Amazon
Ten Commandments, film score
2 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:54
Alexander, film score
3 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:16
Sodom & Gomorrah, film score
4 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:01
The 300 Spartans, film score
5 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:01
Troy, film score
6 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:06
Alexander, film score
7 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:14
Quo Vadis, film score
8 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:52
The Robe, film score
9 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:42
Demetrius and the Gladiators, film score
10 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:36
Cleopatra, film score
11 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:47
Antony and Cleopatra, film score
12 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:41
Gladiator, film score
13 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:16
14 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:27

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Masada, television miniseries score
1 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:12
Spartacus, film score
2 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 03:39
3 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:49
The Fall of the Roman Empire, film score
4 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:31
5 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 03:57
The Greatest Story Ever Told, film score
6 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:14
Jesus of Nazareth, television film score
7 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 08:23
8 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 03:37
Ben-Hur, film score
9 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:56
The Silver Chalice, film score
10 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:51
The Passion of Christ, film score
11 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:51
The War Lord, film score
12 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:20
El Cid, film score
13 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:16
14 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 03:32
The Vikings, film score
15 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 10:04

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Flesh and Blood, film score
1 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:02
The Last Valley, film score
2 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 08:06
Prince Valiant, film score
3 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 01:52
Taras Bulba, film score
4 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:56
The Sea Hawk, film score
5 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:29
The Crimson Pirate, film score
6 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:23
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, film score
7 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:34
Captain Blood, film score
8 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:53
The Lion in Winter, film score
9 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 08:55
Henry V (1989), film score
10 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:28
Henry V, film score
11 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:26
Mary Queen of Scots, film score
12 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:31
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, film score
13 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:18

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra
1 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:44
First Knight, film score
2 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:10
The Adventures of Robin Hood, film score
3 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:05
Braveheart, film score
4 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 07:06
Mutiny on the Bounty, film score (1962)
5 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:23
1492: Conquest of Paradise, film score
6 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:06
Captain from Castile, film score
7 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 03:23
The Mission, film score
8 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 08:44
The Alamo, film score
9 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 05:07
The Charge of the Light Brigade, film score
10 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:27
Lawrence of Arabia, film score
11 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:38
Zulu, film score
12 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 02:35
The Last Samurai, film score
13 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 06:25
Exodus, film score
14 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra 04:28
blue highlight denotes track pick