Reynold Da Silva's Silva Screen Records specializes in new recordings of film scores, frequently ones that never had soundtrack albums. That is emphatically not the case here, which leads producer/conductor James Fitzpatrick to ask himself, "as there are already original soundtrack albums available for all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies...why the need for a 'highlights' CD?" Fitzpatrick's answer is that he and his orchestrators were trying to create suites from the three films that could be played in a concert hall by an orchestra. Why couldn't they be played that way as is? Apparently because the modern soundtrack is such a combination of "orchestra, samples, ethnic percussion and keyboards," and needs to be adapted. This is true even of the highly orchestrated scores of these movies composed by Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and his mentor, Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) that evoke, and to some extent make fun of, the cinematic swashbucklers of old. "The Pirates film trilogy is unashamedly overscored," writes annotator Glen Aitken, and he doesn't mean that as a criticism. After all, this is a film franchise based on a theme-park ride, and one need only call to mind the image of actor Johnny Depp as the loopy Captain Jack Sparrow in the lead role to appreciate the tone the movies take. Badelt and Zimmer explored that tone in their thrilling, over-the-top, and occasionally under-the-table music, which is played here by the 85-piece City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with the appropriate zest. One can only hope that Fitzpatrick gets his wish and that this music finds its way into the repertoire of pops orchestras the world over.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann