James Newton Howard

Hidalgo [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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For the epic horse-race adventure Hidalgo, Oscar winning composer James Newton-Howard has somehow managed to create the first worldbeat cowboy score. By taking equal parts Lawrence of Arabia, Dances With Wolves, and a whole lot of Aaron Copland, Newton-Howard manages to seamlessly bend the styles to his will, resulting in a fresh, yet familiar slice of old-fashioned film scoring. The "Main Title" begins suspiciously, echoing Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings theme, before easing into a middle-eastern motif on "Arriving in the Desert." "The Race Begins" bursts out of the gate with heroic brass and swirling strings, employing the inevitable "Rodeo," with a hoof-clopping pizzicato that has become synonymous with the great American western. This is "high adventure" -- by the book Hollywood sound sculpting -- that like comfort food, provides the kind of instant gratification that the average filmgoer has come to expect. Though it may break little ground, Newton-Howard injects it with enough heart and wonder to keep it serviceable, believable, and satisfying -- if only for a few hours.

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