Perhaps Craig Safan’s finest score, certainly his most emotionally powerful, finally expanded! Mike Robe directs massive 2-part ABC mini-series from Evan S. Connell novel chronicling rich examination of George Armstrong Custer. Robe provides most detailed look at legendary soldier ever made by Hollywood. Gary Cole brings Custer to vivid life, Rosanna Arquette plays wife Elizabeth, Rodney A. Grant is Sioux leader Crazy Horse, other cast includes Dean Stockwell, David Strathairn. Melissa Mathison scripts, focuses on last decade of Custer’s life, climaxing with fateful Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. As does book and film, Safan finds inspiration in Custer as man, not myth, neither hero nor villain. Score anchors with not one but several primary thematic ideas, all of them colored with degree of sorrow: lean, wide-interval solo trumpet line with nods to military and solitude of Custer, incredibly moving string orchestra theme highlighting Custer’s actions and place in history, haunting melody (heard first in brass but typically on oboe) for “Libby”. Strings dominate much of score, woodwinds carry intimate solo lines, Americana colors carry weight… but always the mournful trumpet hovers, cries, pierces. Keynote everywhere is sadness. Fans of composer’s action-heavy The Last Starfighter score also get their day with numerous aggressive brass-led cues underscoring vivid warfare between U.S. Army and Sioux warriors, culminating at Little Big Horn. Safan also wrote several pieces for Native American flute, accompanied sparingly by tom toms, deer-hoof rattles plus synthesizer drones. Independent of orchestral material, these are none-the-less used beautifully as score underlining scenes of Sioux life. In addition, Safan fashions handful of Irish period pieces functioning as score plus adapts key “Garryowen” tune that became basis for Custer’s own marching song as he went into battle. Highlights in 100-minute score are numerous, but emotional spotlight goes to tragic strings of “Washita Massacre”, passioned and emotional final parting sequence, “The Big Goodbyes”, propulsive action of cues focusing on Little Big Horn. Extra special spotlight goes to brief but powerful “A Good Day To Die”, underlining beautifully directed sequence of Sioux warriors readying for battle juxtaposed with image of Custer leading charging 7th Cavalry inexorably into history. As the tragic theme swells, Safan commands his brass to the fore in a magnificent orchestral peroration in the major, a rare sonority in this minor-key dominated masterpiece! Intrada first visited Safan’s work in a single CD of highlights after the film’s 1991 premiere. For this oft-requested return to the beloved classic, Intrada expands the music across 2-CDs, presenting everything in film sequence with all original Native American and Irish cues appearing as composer intended.