Varese Sarabande's reissue of Elmer Bernstein's original score recording for The Magnificent Seven is virtually identical to Rykodisc's 1998-vintage CD, except that it lacks the HDCD logo and includes fresh annotation that gives a fuller, more accurate account of the evolution of the movie and the score. The disc is still extremely impressive sonically, with a healthy, close, loud sound, with an astonishingly vivid guitar in the mix, and nicely dimensional stereo separation as well. Considering that it was never supposed to be heard fully exposed this way, and that the recordings were misplaced for more than three decades, the CD holds up well as a free-standing release and would probably please fans of Aaron Copland's music as well as movie music enthusiasts. Bernstein always considered Copland his mentor and regarded the music for this movie as very much as "collaboration" in spirit with the older composer, and the nuances revealed on the fully exposed recording only bear this out further. It must be pointed out, however, that as good as this material is, some listeners may prefer the James Sedares recording with the Phoenix Symphony on Koch, which is more finely nuanced and a completely modern recording balanced down to the last detail for contemporary listeners (and also has, as a bonus, Bernstein's overture and title music for The Hallelujah Trail). But for those who want the original, in all of its fiery glory, this is a perfectly fine CD release that also explains a lot of history behind the movie and its makers and its score.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder