HERRMANN / NEWMAN: Egyptian (The) by William Stromberg
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It was a collaboration made in heaven--even if the circumstances which necessitated the two composers work on one project were problematic. They didn't work side by side, but exchanged thematic ideas for the chunks of film each took on. What has always been delightful is how the whole thing flows despite two otherwise singularly differing musical styles. The result is some of Newman's loveliest string work, and some surprising departures for Herrmann. As of "Prelude" there is an immediate cliché--establishing ensemble of ethnic guesswork for the Egyptian "sound". And it is this which encourages bombastic restraint and new heights of bittersweet from Herrmann (no doubt as well as a case of "keeping up with the Joneses"). From start to finish, the music is full-on fantastic. The biggest part of our thanks for that must go to the restorative team who made painful choices based on the material recoverable after nearly 50 years. Their detailed presentation is a definitive example of soundtrack packaging too. --Paul Tonks