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|CD Review: The Great Escape|
|Posted By: Darren MacDonald on February 1, 2005 - 9:00 PM|
CD Review: The Great Escape
The Great Escape: The Deluxe Edition
Varèse Sarabande CD Club VCL 0804 1029
Disc One: 22 tracks - 42:03 Disc Two: 20 tracks -
Thanks to the dedication of Robert Townson, we have yet another gem
uncovered, once thought lost to the ravages of time and apathetic
studio administrations of yore. In this case it is the complete
original soundtrack, in stereo, of Elmer Bernstein's masterpiece The Great Escape. All previous LP
and CD incarnations had been of a studio re-recording with an orchestra
half the size as the one heard here, and it's a revelation to hear it
now, in it's entirety, as it was meant to be heard.
Sound quality on the album is fantastic, as is evident right from the
start, when Bernstein's classic march kicks things off in the "Main
Title." The score is surprisingly varied when listened to as a whole --
it's not just a bunch of variations on the march. Naturally, Bernstein
provided a fair deal of suspense for the allied P.O.W.'s plans for
escape, but tracks like "The Scrounger/Blythe" feature warm music for
the bonding between the prisoners; it's not all just triumph and
heroics. These surprisingly tender moments offer a brief and welcome
reprieve from the overt testosterone and masculinity of the score.
Disc One ends delicately with mysterious flute and harp solos. There is
also a recurring theme throughout, for mysterioso strings, that
signifies the ever-present Nazi guards and the threat of discovery.
High anxiety figures prominently in cues leading up to the actual
escape, as in "20 Feet Short" and "Foul Up." Finally, the last third of
the album concentrates on the great escape itself, with Steve McQueen
at the vanguard of the action. Most of his material is based on a
thrilling scherzo, which accelerates to climax to aid McQueen in his
daring motorcycle escape, and surely provided inspiration for Williams'
"Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra" from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
For Bernstein fans, this is a must, and few other collectors out there
would be be well served by finding a spot in their collection for this
one. It's be a fine lasting tribute to the late maestro. And when it's
all done, be sure to stay tuned after "The Cast" for a patriotic
bonus. -- Darren MacDonald