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Conan the Barbarian
Basil Poledouris
Varese Sarabande

Long a fan of mythology, Gregorian chant, and large orchestra/choral scoring, composer Basil Poledouris was afforded a unique opportunity to combine these elements in Conan The Barbarian. The resulting score captures a sense of epic mythology and spirituality, somewhat akin to the film music of Prokofiev and Miklos Rozsa, but with a more percussive, pagan flavor.

The opening track "Anvil of Crom," a propulsive introduction of the main theme (featuring 24 french horns!), is followed up by the even more impressive "The Riders of Doom," with its surging, furious choral writing. A gentler folk music sound is heard in "Theology/Civilization," while Poledouris unleashes a rush of passion with his love theme, "Wifeing," a song which appears later in a more tragic guise in "Funeral Pyre." The climax, "Battle of the Mounds," returns the listener to the powerful battle music, where Poledouris employs the medieval "Dies Irae" before giving way to a heroic finale.

Performed by the orchestra and chorus of Santa Cecilia, Rome, the playing is passionate, if a bit ragged, as is often the case with Italian orchestras. (Poledouris actually wanted the London Symphony Orchestra to play but was told by the producer that they were too expensive). Still, the sheer invention and passion of the music transcends any shortcomings of performance and stands as an impressive musical entity on its own.

— Paul Andrew MacLean

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