Jerry Goldsmith - The First Knight
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Full Length Jewel Case CD
Buy this album if you maintain at least a moderate collection of Jerry Goldsmith's action scores, because First Knight connects the styles of his 1970's classics with the bombast of his best scores of the late 1990's.
The score opens and closes with a sparse, but effective fanfare for Arthur himself, and this idea permeates the score with its easily-identifiable octave-spanning structure. The high tones of this theme (as defined by the trumpets) can be obnoxious at times, though the theme fares far better when Goldsmith uses it as counterpoint to one of his other ideas. A curious statement of this theme exists over upbeat, oddly mixed metallic percussion at the end of "A New Life." The three massive action pieces in the score, "Raid on Leonesse," "Night Battle," and "Arthur's Farewell,"
all feature stock Goldsmith action material, but pulling inspiration from different directions in each case. It wouldn't be surprising if a snare drum was damaged during this recording, for its sharp pronouncement of each note gives these action cues a distinctive, deliberate sense of movement. In a return to the pulse-pounding style of Lionheart, Goldsmith provides a somewhat refined version of the pompous and loquacious form that impresses with volume rather than unique substance. With the pride of Camelot at stake, Goldsmith pulls all the stops the bombast department, with no cue as impressive as "Arthur's Farewell." Goldsmith withholds the adult choir until this late cue and the final minute of the score, but the merging of style from Carmina Burana and Goldsmith's own The Omen makes for a stunningly deep and massive climax. This cue would serve as compilation bait, with The City of Prague Philharmonic and Crouch End Festival Chorus offering a very impressive performance of this piece on their best-selling Cinema Choral Classics album (under the more appropriate cue title "Never Surrender"). Aside from the
totalitarian action cues, the score has a beautiful and often overlooked love theme. This theme, introduced in "Promise Me" and "Camelot" and fading with bittersweet longing in "Camelot Lives," is among Goldsmith's more attractive romantic themes of the 1990's. The performance of the theme in that last cue would remind of the elegant finale of Total Recall and foreshadow the more fluid movements of his later Star Trek scores.