James Horner has written some beautiful scores in his career and I think that this is one of his best ones. "The Ludlows" is a touching theme that produces so much emotion. My 5 year old said, when he heard it, "Daddy, turn this off. It's making me sad!". And what a great value! 75 minutes of music for this price? Thanks, Amazon!
on December 31, 2013
Legends of the Fall represents some of James Horner's best work from what I would consider his "golden era," beginning with The Wrath of Khan in 1982 and ending with Titanic in 1997. LOTF contains a rich body of themes - any one of which could have anchored the film musically on its own (if this were a standard fare Hollywood score). There's the Ludlow theme, Tristan's theme, Alfred's theme, the overall title theme... and more. The film is packed beginning to end with music that can be grand and sweeping, lush and romantic, and heartbreakingly sentimental. Given the drama, adventure and tragedy of the film's story, the musical score very nearly converts the film to an opera, with the music doing as much to advance the story as the film's direction. There are many films that are elevated entirely to another level by the score, but this one always comes to my mind as a prime example. I think Legends of the Fall sometimes gets pigeon-holed as a romantic melodrama, partly due to the way it was marketed at the time of release, and also to its subsequent launching of Brad Pitt as a heart throb... but the story trandscends labels, and the music - as key a component to the film's success as any other aspect - is a gorgeous body of work that cannot be adaquetely described in a review such as this. Legends of the Fall is a true trifecta: a great novella by Jim Harrison, a great film by Ed Zwick, and a great score by James Horner.
on July 12, 2013
When I first heard "The Ludlows" on youtube I knew I had to get this CD and I can assure you this is one of James Horners best works, a must have. The theme for the movies plays beautifully in a few of the other pieces on this CD, which I thought was a great touch. A very orchestral piece, with a few mystery instruments that will keep you guessing. HIGHLY recommended!
on May 25, 2016
In the late 1990's, I became aware of this score from a number of soundtrack websites which I used to visit, but it wasn't until 2002 when I picked up a copy at a used record store. After that, I wondered what took me so long. This score is truly James Horner's masterpiece. The sad death of Horner last year has led me to reflect on his music. He was an enigma, so enormously talented yet only occasionally able to unleash the full spectrum of his talents. He started off pulling out all the stops writing brilliant energetic (and mostly strikingly original) genre scores like Krull, Star Trek II, and Brainstorm. Then once he had established himself as an A-list composer he seemed to take less risks, content to write "big sounding" scores which in many cases recycled either his own or other composers' material, while introducing just enough new material to keep things fresh. He became a chameleon, able to shape his music for any film, in any way that was necessary. By the 2000's, he seemed to have become less relevant, with only a few scores such as Avatar and Amazing Spiderman appearing to remind us of what he could do, before he passed away.
It all came together for him with Legends of the Fall. There are many adjectives I could use to describe this score : lush, broad, intimate, sweeping, intensely lyrical. He effortlessly weaves at least five distinct themes throughout the score, each of them bearing a tint of melancholy, loss, and longing. The highlight of course was "The Ludlows," which encapsulates this score. He opens with a piano theme which sounds like a distant cousin of Ashokan's Farewell, no coincidence since Horner even uses the same guy on the violin from that song, before going into what I call the "Cocoon" theme. The melodic structure is similar to the theme from Cocoon but different enough to stand on its own. The cue then segues into the main theme from Legends before going into the violin rendition of the "Ashokan" theme.
It's not all flowery melodic music though. "Samuel's Death" is a powerhouse of an action cue. It has all the intensity of "Mornay's Dream" from Braveheart, but stretched out over 8 minutes. Horner always had the incredible ability to write long, extended, complex action cues. I really enjoy "Samuel's Death." Right from the opening chords, you can tell that something bad is about to happen. Horner uses the rumbling triplet ostinato of which he is so fond (Braveheart) and he makes excellent use of the horn section. The latter part of the cue, the sad / revenge aspect of it, makes prominent use of the shakuhachi. Horner really had a thing for the shakuhachi. It's like once he heard that instrument, he decided he needed to use it in his scores as much as possible. The shakuhachi became as much of a Hornerism as the "danger motif." Comparisons to Braveheart are even more apt later in the score, with his minimalist shakuhachi music playing a prominent role and sounding very much like what would later show up in "Revenge" from Braveheart.
Legends of the Fall marked the "peak" period of Horner's career, a span of incredible scores which extended into Braveheart, Apollo 13, Titanic, and Mask of Zorro. To me, Legends is the best of that group. It's also the most original, at least in my mind, there aren't as many blatant recycled rip-offs to be found in Legends. Yes, there is stuff that sounds like Cocoon and even Patriot Games, but I think Legends has a very distinct identity. It showed that, in his generation, Horner was second only to John Williams in his ability to unleash the power of the orchestra and evoke an emotional response. I bought this CD without having seen the movie, and when I listened to it, I imagined this epic spectacular film. Imagined what happened when I actually watched the movie... just terrible melodramatic dreck. This was the same guy who directed Glory?!? Fortunately James Horner's brilliant score still lives on.
on October 9, 2012
James Horner always puts his best foot forward with scoring anything cultural/historical.
Remember Braveheart, Mask of Zorro, and Titanic?
Legends is his baby, the score that got Jon Broxton of Moviemusic.UK started. And I'm with him that Legends should go down as a great Western and a great score in general.
Elegant string movements, coupled with woodwind sakahatchi-led action sequences makes this one stand out.
The same guy who did all those PBS violin pieces for the Civil War documentaries, returns to dish out BEAUTIFUL violin solos on this CD.
So if you want a great Western, one that surpasses other efforts like Horner's own Missing or even Dances With Wolves by John Barry (which I thought was a rip off, but hey you may disagree), then look no further than this wonderful--albiet long at 75 mins--CD by James Horner.