Dimitri Tiomkin - Land of the Pharaohs (2 CD)
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Full Length Jewel Case 2 CD
One of the greatest epic scores of the 1950s comes to CD in complete form: Dimitri Tiomkin's Land of the Pharaohs (1955), for Howard Hawks's mammoth spectacle set in ancient Egypt. The composer, in a press interview at the time (transcribed to illustrate his Russian accent), explained the film's story:
"Pharaoh gung build pyramid. Needs harchitect. Harchitect say OK, I gung build pyramid... if you sat my pippel free. Lots pippel dyink, all over the picture... Pharaoh say OK, I sat your pippel free, you build nice cozy pyramid. Harchitect say OK... Pharaoh don't understand why big chariots all over the place. Pippel dyink. Harchitect a fine man. All this hoppen long time ago."
The film remains a curious blend of jaw-dropping spectacle and drawing-room scheming, with the international cast also including Jack Hawkins, Alexis Minotis, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin. Perhaps Hawks himself best summed up his creative dilemma in making the picture: "I don't know how a pharaoh talks."
"Why you think top producer spend more moneys on music for picture than for A picture? Music can help picture. I should know. I work mostly in medium mediocre pictures... I have spashil script. Not regular script. Spashil script. Script don't sayink 'Close-up on Tootsie' only, scripts I got say ink 'Close-up on Tootsie, she very sad.' That way, I can write the good music... Work to within third of second. Third of second important. Third of second enough time to go boom-de-boom. Boom-de-boom important sometimes."
Boom-de-boom only begins to describe the greatness of the Land of the Pharaohs soundtrack. Huge choral setpieces dominate the first half of the film, as the Egyptians perform songs to honor their dead and to accompany their decades-long endeavor to construct the great Pyramid; in the second, Tiomkin accompanies the romance and treachery of Collins's villainous princess including several action scenes. But it is emblematic of Tiomkin that at the most unexpected moments -- such as the main title -- he goes "small" instead of big, with his beautiful
melodies carried by solo instruments. In other scenes, Tiomkin seems to be setting a musical freight train underneath dialogue, churning with the emotional undercurrents of the drama.
The score to Land of the Pharaohs was conceived almost like that for a silent film, in that the music virtually never ceases. The complete score (presented over FSM's 2CD set, with alternate and additional selections closing disc 2) has been painstakingly assembled from the monaural mixdowns saved in the Warner Bros. vaults. (Although recorded in stereo, the score survives only in mono; however, the use of separate tracks for percussion, chorus and other solos has allowed several passages to be reconstructed in stereo -- including huge set pieces like "Pharaoh's Procession.")
The 20 pages booklet is fantastic!
1. Main Title / Pharaoh's Procession / Pharaoh Walks 10:40
2. Pharaoh and Hamar / Looking for Vashtar / People of Egypt / Recitative / Pharaoh's Decree 5:51
3. Funeral Song of Joy / Hymn to the Hero / Funeral Song to a Traitor / Pharaoh's Spoils / Breaking Pottery / Song of the Builders 16:40
4. Song of the Builders / The Crane / Song of the Builders / Slave Hits Drum / Treasure 13:46
5. Nellifer 5:13
6. Fighting the Bull / Sudanese Dance 3:43
7. The Vault / The Quarry / Secret Meeting / Vashtar's Home 9:59
8. The Priests / Blindfolded / Toiling / Senta 8:11
Disc Time: 74:03
1. Kyra / Senta and Kyra / Kyra's Song / Council Chamber 7:08
2. Melody of Death 1:27
3. Melody of Death / Pharaoh's Tent in the Desert / Camel Caravan / The Duel / Treneh's Death 12:56
4. Kyra / Land of the Pharaohs / Nellifer's Wish 4:20
5. Chess Game / Nellifer the Queen / Sealing the Tomb / End Title 9:06
6. Land of the Pharaohs (instrumental) 2:36
7. Land of the Pharaohs (vocal) 2:18
8. Council Chamber (alternate) 2:05
9. Melody of Death (continuation) 1:14
10. 15m2 Alternate 1:00
Disc Time: 44:10
Total Album Time: 118:13