The Prince of Egypt has been given a strange treatment by Dreamworks Records. There are three different albums available. One with country songs, another with "Music inspired by..." and finally this, the actual soundtrack. You may wonder why they didn't release a score album, instead of some crappy inspirations... Anyway, there's around 30-40 minutes of Zimmer's score on this CD (50-60 minutes if you count the songs, which were arranged by Zimmer), plus songs by Stephen Schwartz and a couple of easily skipped pop songs.
Zimmer's music is a true epic score, and he sets the tone immediately in the first orchestral track, (although there are some orchestral music in "Deliver Us") "The Reprimand", with an arabian sounding, slow theme, played first by woodwinds, later joined by brass and strings. This is a theme Zimmer will use throughout the score, in many different shapes. Zimmer then adds some more ancient Egyptian sounding music, played on ethnic flutes and other arabian intruments, mixed with the sound of the traditional symphonic orchestra. Very effective, and very good. "Following Tzipporah" is a short slow cue, with synts, orchestra and percussion. In "Goodbye Brother" we get some traditional Zimmer action music, with heavy percussion, brass and choir, but with an egyptian twist. There's also some beautiful cello solos, backed up by a soft choir, plus some vocals by Ofra Haza, a la Titanic, but with an entirely different mood, and sound. "The Burning Bush" is a track with choir and orchestra, that builds to a wonderful powerful climax. In this cue we hear Zimmer's "God motif" for the first time - a descending and very powerful motif, that's also used in the cue "Red Sea". This may very well be the best cue Zimmer has ever written. In "Cry" Zimmer once again makes use of Ofra Haza's voice. It's a very sad, but wonderful track. "Rally", only 42 seconds long, is in the same style, and takes us directly into the song "The Plagues" (Many of the songs and the score tracks work like this - tied together.) which has some very effective choir music. "Death of the First Born" continues this dark, sad, direction the music has taken, with a cello solo, filled with sorrow. The last Zimmer cue, "Red Sea", is a very dramatic track, with Zimmer's poweful orchestral sound, along with choir, and solo trumpet. Plus a dash of percussive rythms.
What makes this album so good is that almost everything on it is great. Most of the songs by Stephen Schwartz are wonderful, except for "Playing With the Boys", performed by Steve Martin and Martin Short. This has nothing to do with the both gentlemen's performance. It's just a boring song, and I think that it seemed out of place in the film, too. Most of them are traditional musical songs, like for instance "All I Ever Wanted" (a great, Lloyd Webber sounding, song, performed by Amick Byram and Linda Dee Shayne, with terrific lush orchestral backup), "Through Heaven's Eyes" (performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell, starting very powerful, and dramatic, before a children's choir introduces a lively, folkish, melody), "The Plague" (a very dark, mystical beginning, with chanting voices and huge orchestral support). And then there's "When You Believe", a very beautiful song, with a simple, but great melody, performed by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworksy, both with rather fragile, but splendid, voices. The song ends magnificent with a majestic choir. "Deliver Us" starts out with a very powerful orchestra and choir of slaves, asking their God to help them, before a version of "River Lullaby" takes over. The songs are all arranged by Hans Zimmer, to fuse with his score. This is of course terrific - that the songs and the score are in the same style. I really think we have a possible Oscar winner here. Now, let us just pray that there will be a special score album released. There are som much splendid music in the film, not featured on the soundtrack.