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Highs and Lows ...
on March 26, 2012
This is one of my all-time favorite film scores, and I am a tremendous film score buff. As a maritime historian with a particular interest in the "Titanic," the score for this movie has captivated me from day one. I bought the original CD in November of 1997, before I ever saw the movie, and all these years later, it remains my favorite James Horner score. So it was with great anticipation that I picked this re-release up.
The pros: CD's 1 - 3. Discs 1 and 2 of this 4-CD set are exact track and content match re-releases of "Titanic" and "Back to Titanic." That said, the two discs have been digitally re-mastered, and they sound absolutely fantastic - better than the originals. Incredible. These two discs alone are worth the price of the set, even if you have the originals to compare them to. Disc 3 contains much of the music that would have been played aboard the ship, as recorded by I Salonisti - the musical ensemble who starred in the film. Very nice selections, and the quality is great.
The cons: CD 4. Much of the music on this disc is simply unbearable. They are antique recordings, but many of them were recorded long after "Titanic" sank in 1912, and bear a distinctly '20's and '30's feel. They would feel right at home in a score for "The Legend of Bagger Vance," but strike no chords to Titanic's era. The earliest recording comes from 1914, and the last was actually recorded in 1946! Even worse, not only are the recordings made in a much later, much "jazzier" style than would have been heard aboard the "Titanic," but the actual pieces playing don't bear any resemblance to the instruments used aboard the liner. A far better choice would have been to bring in a string ensemble, such as I Salonisti, to record those same pieces - or others - in a style that would have been heard in 1912.
Also, the much-touted quartet of baggage tags are not faithful reproductions, and bear the likeness of a ship from a much later era; finally, the "historical" commentary called "Ship of Dreams" running from pgs. 30-33 of the booklet contains numerous historical errors, perpetuates a number of popular misconceptions, and is a general mess.
On the whole, this should have been given a bit better attention, but it's well worth the price for CD's 1-3.