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APOLLO 13

by James  Horner
One of the best scores of his "mature (i.e. Let's see how many rip-offs we can fit on one CD)" period, this has very little of his infamous borrowings.  The theme is very patriotic, and there are quite a few memorable themes.  The launch sequence is to die for, and the pulse-pounding action cues are strikingly appropriate.  Unfortunately, this CD marrs the listening experience by inserting numerous dialog sequences over the music, as well as period songs sprinkled in between most score tracks.  The music more than makes up for this, however, and I can recommend the CD to anyone.  Still, I'd love to have a copy of the score-only promo, which reinstates several tracks, making for a 60-minute running time (as it is, we only have about 37 minutes of score on a 70 minute CD.  Why did they have to do this?).  Also, the packaging on the regular CD release is really screwed up, listing 15 tracks, while the album has 23.  Thus, even though there are no liner notes, I'm still deducting points from the packaging category.

1. Main Title (2:28)
Our first glimpse of the patriotic theme begins with a snare drum solo and a trumpet fanfare of the main theme.  Although it's somewhat simple, it has an understated elegance.  The theme continues on moving strings punctuated by solo trumpet.  Portions of the brass rushes are from The Rocketeer.  The titles end with a final trumpet section, and this segues into some dialog.
9. The Launch (10:04)
This is simply one of the best cues in the entire Horner canon.  It opens with patriotic brass, and that theme transfers to the woodwinds.  Over this is the first statement of another theme played by solo trumpet (the basis for the beginning of the end credits.)  The strings build, and we get a section based on the earlier theme.  Following this is the introduction to Southampton from Titanic, nearly identical.  The earlier theme reappears, this time played on surging strings.  After some more "Southampton" he plays another version of the surging string theme.  Eventually, a pattern later to be used as the basis for "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" in Titanic appears, only this has a choral motif over it.  The brass return and continue to build into a full statement of the end credit theme, complete with chimes and percussion.  He extends the credit theme, adding a nice epilogue to it.  The chorus reappears singing their motif, and this segues into some more ominous music, foreshadowing later events.  Various statements of the end credit theme followed by assorted tension music follow.  One last credit theme statement ends the track.
13. Master Alarm (3:36)
This is the first major action cue on the CD, which holds one of the first uses of his favorite crashing pianos.  A snare drum and piano ostinato opens the track, under a new action motif that plays through most of the orchestra.  The crashing pianos enter, and join another statement of the motif.  It continues to modulate into higher keys, becoming more frenzied in the process.  The pianos become a constant in the continually building action.  I suspect this was the basis for "Hard to Starboard" in Titanic.  The cue fades on an ominous note.
15. Into the Lem (4:18)
Following the breakneck action of the previous track, this gives us a melancholy motif as the astronauts abandon part of the rocket.  Eventually a tension motif enters, which continues to build throughout the track, adding several nonthematic variations.
17. Darkside of the Moon (4:49)
I'd have to say that this track is one of the most moving on the album.  It opens with a melancholy string motif with an exotic female vocal over it.  The main theme makes one of its appearances for a short time.  Much of the rest is a pounding piano ostinato under various chord progressions of string and voice, which is my single favorite aspect of the album.  Later the strings play the motif alone, leading into an extension of the solo trumpet main theme in its most moving statement yet.
22. Re-Entry & Splashdown (8:53)
This lengthy climactic piece is mainly made of tension ostinati, but it's still very good.  It opens with an excellent trumpet motif accompanied by bittersweet choir (one of the best parts of the track.)  After about two statements of this, is drifts into various tension sections with trumpet, string, and horn meanderings.  A few highlights are the return of the choral motif and the most blatantly derivitave thing I've ever heard a composer do.  He incorporates a complete statement of John Williams' Schindler's List theme on trumpet instead of violin.  Apparently he liked this idea, because he did the same thing in Titanic.  After more tension, he gives us a victorious version of the main theme on strings.  Later we hear a complete version of the end credits theme in the chorus.  Another statement of the now-victorious main theme, followed by a complete quote of the choral motif from track 9.  One last playing of the main theme, and the music builds up and segues into...
23. End Titles (6:59)
One of Horner's most creative end titles, the first theme stated is the one first introduced in "The Launch", but this time it is sung by Annie Lennox with a French horn, both accompanied by synths.  The full choir sings another quote of the theme, and Lennox gives a final statement and finishes it.  The synths fade, and we hear another major theme, the triumphant statement of the main title theme from track 22.  A full version of the choral motif follows, this time with both male and female vocal lines.  Next, Horner combines the Lennox theme (played on strings) with the choral motif, and both are played for the final time.  The solo trumpet returns, finishing the previous theme, and playing a final quote of the title theme.  The album ends as it began with a fading trumpet.

Overall, even though the album release is sloppy, I'm going to have to recommend this.  As hinted to above, many motifs in this were the basis for several cues in the vastly inferior Titanic.  It's one of my favorite '90s Horner scores.



 
Apollo 13: The Final Score
Music Rating 9/10
Packaging/Liner Notes 3/10
Orchestral Performance 10/10
Sound Quality 10/10
Length 3/10


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Apollo 13 is copyright 1995 by MCA Records.  Like always, its appearance on this site is for nonprofit purposes.  Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon.  Tripod's opinions are not present here. (I was looking for a new way to say it.)