About this Recording
8.573444 - POLEDOURIS, B.: Conan the Barbarian (arr. P. Pelster for organ) (Pelster)

Basil Poledouris (1945–2006)
Conan the Barbarian


Transcribing Basil Poledouris’s 1982 Conan score for the pipe organ

Conan the Barbarian is a 1982 adventure film, directed and co-written by John Milius. It was his intention to create an opera in the form of a film. Since the opera contains very little dialogue, he used the music to support the story-line. The music composed by Basil Poledouris (1945–2006) conveys a sense of power and energy but also expresses many tender moments.

Film scores are played by only a few organists. They are usually to be found as encores or excerpts. Transcribing this unique music for the pipe organ was both challenging and motivating. Today, many film scores are supported by computer software and electronic sound effects. By contrast Basil Poledouris simply used a conventional orchestra. It is a fact that numerous orchestral colours found in his score are impossible to reproduce on the organ. For example, there is extensive use of percussion instruments. With the unique possibilities of the pipe organ, however, even the decisive drum parts of the first movement Anvil of Crom could be integrated. Another challenge was the frequent use of glissando effects in the Pit Fights movement, produced by the pedals. This accelerating movement is reminiscent of the Rowing of the galley slaves composed by Miklós Rózsa for his 1959 Ben-Hur score. The chief aim of a transcription should be to make it sound as though originally it had been written for organ. And indeed, playing Poledouris’s score on this instrument is like generating a completely new musical experience.

The idea of playing a classic film score on this instrument is a new approach to the future of the pipe organ. This music will inspire those who have not yet discovered the instrument.

Philipp Pelster

About the instrument

Philipp Pelster’s vision to transcribe and record the score of Conan the Barbarian on the Glatter-Götz/Rosales organ in Claremont, California, fulfills the vision of the Organ Committee, Consultant and Organ Builders when the instrument was conceived and designed in 1995. It was desired that this organ would inspire creativity and innovation in compositions, performances and recordings. Philipp Pelster’s new recording has accomplished this at a very high level of creativity with meticulous technique and delightful entertainment.

The Glatter-Götz/Rosales organ in Claremont was the first of several collaborations between the two firms. The Glatter-Götz team brought decades of experience in the intricacies of creating a superbly built organ with a precise tracker action, excellent winding and with the customization needed for installation into the Claremont Congregational Church. Rosales Organ Builders contributed tonal design concepts and technical details unique to its legacy of distinctive instruments. The voicing by the Rosales staff was performed on site over a period of ten months. Dramatically housed in casework designed by Graham Tristram of Edinburgh, Scotland, the instrument visually states its intention to fill the nave with clear sonority while gracefully harmonizing with the building’s architecture.

Manuel J. Rosales

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