Some soundtracks not only transform the film for which they were written, but also provide enjoyable music in their own right. John Barry's "Dances With Wolves" most definitely falls into this category.
The original soundtrack album had a running time of some 53 minutes. Fortunately, someone at Sony appears to have realised that this did not represent all the best music, and consequently there is this 2004 release with a running time of some 75 minutes.
The music itself is in Barry's most stirring and moving style. Of the many memorable themes in the score, my favourite is the one first heard in the track "The Buffalo Robe". Gently scored for strings at this point, it conveys the sort of elegiac poetry normally associated with Russian composers such as Borodin and Balakirev. The same theme reappears scored for woodwind and sounding even more haunting in the track "Falling in Love".
Incidentally, "Falling in Love" and "The Buffalo Hunt" (film version) are two of the tracks which didn't appear in the shorter release, making this 2004 release pretty much essential.
As with most film music, there is a certain amount of repetition and padding, but overall this is an example of the soundtrack genre at its finest. In addition, the orchestral playing is especially good, and the recording quality is clear and well balanced. Very highly recommended.