1. Durango Suite (6:57)
2. Main Titles (4:43)
3. Farewell Speech (1:24)
4. She's A Beauty (0:54)
5. Elope? (1:35)
6. The Journey Begins (5:57)
7. God Save The Republic (1:17)
8. Making Progress (2:08)
9. Haunted Hill (2:01)
10. Dog Attack (1:56)
11. Mark and Annie's Love Theme (2:07)
12. Fight For Privilege (2:59)
13. Good Day To You (2:19)
14. Mission Accomplished (2:27)
15. Fire! (2:33)
16. We're Getting Married (1:30)
Every once in a while there's a score to a movie or TV movie that nobody's seen, but all the film music types end up buying the music. Durango certainly fits into that catergory. I've certainly never heard of it and Mark McKenzie isn't the kind of composer where everyone rushes out to buy all of his scores, but in this case, everyone did and that's a good job since it's really jolly good indeed. It would appear that Durango is kind of Far & Away light or something and so the score is full of Oirish bits, the Uillean pipes and all that... doing a bit of the old James Horner routine. There isn't an overdoes of ethnic instrumentation, like Horner would do, but is reduced to a few choice moments here and there. The main theme is much more in the style of John Barry, all strings and horn chords although lacking Barry's unique harmonic gifts. Opening with a suite, which I have to say is possibly the only misstep on the album, surely it would have been better placed at the end? (Especially given that the last cue is only a minute and a half long). This introduces the broad as the hills main theme, which is most notably reprised in The Journey Begins. This track isn't quite what I would expect, it doesn't really build or go anywhere, which is rather a shame, there is the odd bit of rumbling percussion and Uillean pipes, but the rousing climax to the cue never really materialises.
There are some verging on twee, string passages such as in God Save the Republic which just seem a bit too happy and jolly I would suggest. No sweeping epic would be completel without some action and there are a few choice sections, although none of them ever come across as intimating a great deal of serious danger, indeed Dog Attack starts off with a brief violin jig, but turns sour, but never really reaches the kind of frenzied orchestral writing that I'd expect for a track with that title. This music hints at the recent James Horner action style which favours running strings with crescendoing brass chords and drums, although this, I have to say is a lot more interesting than say the action music from Titanic, even if it is less frenetic. The penultimate track, Fire! is similar but emphasizes the heroism more than the danger; I can imagine the main character coming out of the smoke carrying kittens or something.... ahhhhh. Mark & Annies' Love Theme is lovely, especially when it gets going even if there is a hint of Legends of the Fall and most notably the broad intervals of the main theme from Glory (which itself was borrowed from Prokofiev).
The performance by the City of Prague Philharmonic sounds absolutely nothing like their recordings from Silva Screen; it appears that a completely different recording technique was used. There are none of the occasional brass errors which often spoil otherwise fine performances and the whole thing is performed with the professionalism of any LA studio orchestra. The length is just right, there is never a dull moment, but there is no feeling that great chunks were left out. Definitely worth picking up if you're of the John Barry, James Horner, sweeping, mushy epic loving type. Nothing too taxing, but a gorgeous listen none the less.
Some scores really take you by surprise. Mark McKenzie's score for Durango is one of those. Before Durango I had never ever heard anything about Mark McKenzie, although now I know that he has also written music for films such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and is currently scoring Dragonheart 2. He has also worked as orhestrator for Marc Shaiman and Danny Elfman among other composers. Anyway, Durango is a wonderful, feel good, score, with a lovely Irish twist. Lately we have been somewhat flooded with Irish inspired scores, and I can very well understand that people are sick of instruments like Uilleann Pipes and the tin whistle. But I am not. To quote James Horner, Celtic music "has a moody, modal and timeless quality", which I just cannot get enough of.
The score is very melodic, with an abundance of different, superb, themes. From beginning to end this is one of those hummable, lyrical, scores, with the themes mostly carried by strings, with occasional guest performances by typical Irish instruments. I mentioned Horner in the beginning of the review. In fact Durango sounds very much like something Horner would write. With Durango McKenzie has created a score which can be described as a mixture of Legends of the Fall (and other epic scores by Horner) and Williams' Far and Away - but still with its own unique, and very pleasing, sound.
Durango is one of the best, most interesting, satisfying and most surprising scores so far in 1999, and it is really a shame so few people know about its existence. Lucky you then, that there are sites like this one... :-) So order your copy as fast as you can! You will not be disappointed.