Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


July - August 1998 Contd

Bernard HERRMANN Concerto Macabre for piano and orchestra (David Buechner piano);  

Devil and Daniel Webster suite; For the Fallen; Sinfonietta (scherzo only); Prelude for piano (David Buechner piano) Symphony No. 1 (finale only) New Zealand SO/Phoenix SO all cond James Sedares KOCH INTERNATIONAL 376092 [50:53]   

Here is a useful conspectus of Herrmann's concert music: an accessible introduction. It offers two substantial works: Concerto and Suite, fragments of two others and two brief works one of which (the prelude) was unknown to me.

The Concerto (from the film Hangover Square 1944) was introduced to most of us in Joaquin Achucarro's black toned performance on RCA/BMG in the early '70s Classic Film Scores series. No doubt this is still available and the sound is good. More recently there is the Naxos collection of film piano concertos. The competition is not direct. The BMG disc offers in the context of Herrmann's film music. The Naxos is a collection (a generous one) of tabloid film piano concertos by other composers. This Koch anthology drifts us into and out of each of the two worlds: concert and celluloid. The performance by everyone is basalt-dark and suitably Lisztian (Totentanz is the obvious parallel [did Herrmann conduct it at CBS?] but let's also recall Herrmann's score for On Dangerous Ground). I could not choose between the three recorded performances. You will not feel cheated with any of them.

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941, dir Dieterle) was written very soon after he had finished the Citizen Kane score. The first movement of the five movement suite is dark and has some violent moments. The second has one of Herrmann's classic chastely lovely string tunes. Herrmann's love for British string orchestral music comes through but his characteristic overlay (a strange and dangerous sense of fragility) marks out the music as something special. The third movement: a barn dance, suggests the presence of a dark fiddler amongst the merrymaking like some scene from Poe's The Masque of the Red Death. Uproarious horn whoops preech Malcolm Arnold but any joy is shadowed with foreboding. The fourth movement is a sort of ghostly Valse Triste but the eruptive brass also sourly threaten and polarise the mood. The last movement sounds for all the world like some garishly lit fairground but sinister characters weave in and out of the happy crowds and clouds scud across the sky. The hammered chords suggest the score of the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The performance is the match for the Herrmann conducted recording on Unicorn.

For the Fallen is only the second commercial recording of this piece. It is a berceuse of almost seven minutes duration gently rocking and cradling. This is hearteasing consoling music (try also the quieter sections of Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem 'The Hands of the sisters: death and night", words by Walt Whitman) and we can imagine how it must have spoken to those who heard it in concert in 1943 ... and later. Its message, the sincerity of Herrmann's voice and of this performance is utterly convincing. It would be a great companion to Barber's overused Adagio. The climax to which it works up gives a great sense of release and yet does not break the mood. Herrmann at moments like this is well and truly connected to the world of a composer he venerated: Edmund Rubbra. Rubbra's Fourth Symphony has much in common with this work. I have loved this Herrmann piece ever since hearing Herrmann's own recording on Unicorn.

The scherzo of the 1935 Sinfonietta for strings shows Herrmann the striding modernist bending and swaying the medium with invigorating confidence. This music was the style quarry for the desperate string writing of Psycho. The solo piano prelude from the same year was new to me. David Buechner (clearly a Herrmann specialist) takes us through its less than two minutes duration with apparently sure technique. The notes suggest a sketch for an orchestral work and certainly the contrasts suggests this as well. Good to have this on disc.

The Symphony (1941) needs to be heard complete but as an introduction this recording of the finale is fine. It also serves as a good conclusion to the disc overall. The clamorous mood of the opening is nicely varied with other romantic interludes. The music has a quasi-Baxian accent with touches of Finzi, Vaughan Williams, Kodaly and Nielsen. For a wartime symphony there is less of stormy turbulence than you might expect and much more in the way of celebration and horn-topped joy. An echo can be found in the last section of Bax's Symphony Spring Fire. Here however Herrmann's textures are always clear. The performance is a good one.

This collection draws on several Koch CDs featuring mixed recitals or all Herrmann selections. Grouses? Well this IS short value (and the total time is not stated on the 'sleeve'). The whole of the Sinfonietta would have fitted plus The Currier and Ives Suite. While marketing considerations may have precluded the inclusion of the latter, the former could sensibly have been included complete. Also why be so coy about the fact that these are reissues and why not give catalogue numbers and contents for the discs from which these are taken? For these reasons and short running time I have given a lower star rating. If the disc were offered at bargain price it would rate more highly. Good recording though and excellent notes from Steve Smith (a different one to the author of the Herrmann biography).

Rob Barnett

CINEMA CLASSICS Music for Concert and Screen BERNSTEIN, RÓZSA, WAXMAN, MOROSS, HERRMANN, COPLAND, KORNGOLD Phoenix SO/ New Zealand SO/ LSO conducted by James Sedares and (Moross) JoAnn Falletta KOCH INTERNATIONAL 376042 [75:52]  


This CD offers a mix of music designed for screen and concerthall by composers straddling the two worlds of film and concert music. While offering a satisfying recital in its own right it also operates as a sampler of Koch's rich film music and film music composer catalogue with excellent notes by Steven Smith.

Elmer Bernstein's cracking theme for The Magnificent Seven opens the disc. It is not all subCopland. There are some restful interludes here drifting into the world of Kodaly and Bartok. There are echoes of the convulsive last movement of Martinu's Western-orientated Symphony No. 4. Walton must surely have smiled when he heard this music. You certainly will. This theme is up there with the greats of Wild Western theme music: The Big Country, The Virginian and High Chaparral.

Rózsa's Overture to a Symphony Concert (1956) receives a richly enjoyable brass-prominent performance. The textures are enjoyable but the work is perhaps over-extended for its ideas.

Franz Waxman is one of the masters of Golden Age Hollywood film music. The 'pocket concerto' Rhapsody (honestly titled) for piano and orchestra has its second-Viennese moments but the idiom never becomes too challenging. There is even the occasional backwards glance at his music for The Bride of Frankenstein. The music is drawn from the score for Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947). David Buechner dashes off this music with style, apparently enjoying the experience. The strings get right into mood for a smoochy central section which operates as the slow movement slipping neatly into Rachmaninov mode.

The Moross Variations on a Waltz is light music shaped around a waltz and nine variations occasionally sounding like the lightest Malcolm Arnold. (try track 7). This is a nice unhackneyed partner to Barber's Souvenirs without having Barber's knowing approach. A certain innocence is a strong characteristic of this music. Just once I was surprised to be thinking about Franz Schmidt's Hussar Song variations. Surely Moross hadn't heard this piece?

The Hermann Miser's Waltz (from The Devil and Daniel Webster suite) is another coolly shadowed piece: a Ravelian Dance in the Dusk.

Oddly enough the Copland Red Pony section (Morning on the Range) starts dance-like but soon evokes the sunrise. The film which seems to rate poorly in film guides is hardly ever seen. The music however is out of Copland's top drawer. Frankly I prefer it to the raucous Billy the Kid and Rodeo. Speaking of Copland why is his vigorous score for the wartime flagwaver: Red Star completely neglected? What on earth does the Copland Estate have against this vivacious and exciting music? I am guessing that the problem lies there. I do hope that the movers and shakers in the film music industry will have a look at this impressive score. The performance of this extract may not be as exuberant as the Slatkin and Copland competition but the message comes over very well.

The last movement from Korngold's String Quartet No. 3 is sweetly and densely lyrical, apparently drawing on his music for The Sea Wolf (about which there are rumours of a complete recording or at least a very substantial suite). This serves as a smaller scale appetiser for the next track.

The splendour of Róza's music for El Cid (1961) is well known. Here there are three orchestral excerpts: a mini-suite. The jangling triumph of the title music and Epilogue frames the more intimate and lengthy Love Scene although even that reflective moment (Rodrigo echoes) is disturbed by black shadows. I will highlight the solo violin work.. The smooth and underpowered organ and the bland Hollywoodism of the choir in the Epilogue and Finale is a miscalculation in this performance. In both cases something grander is called for. I still hope that enlightened record companies and concert promoters will start seeing this music as a worthy contrasting companion to other Hispanic' pieces (Ravel, Copland, Chabrier). Does the cake always have to be cut within the film music context?

With the very few riders mentioned above, performances throughout are excellent.

For such a well-filled disc why are Koch so coy about giving a total time? Similarly it is unfortunate that the details of the discs from which these recordings are taken are not detailed.

This is a satisfying and varied collection nicely mixing concert music and film music and ultimately making us ask ourselves why we bother to draw a distinction. This is perhaps more for the person who is interested in classic film music and would like to explore.

Rob Barnett

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD String Quartets Nos 1 (1924) and 2 (1934) Flesch Quartet ASV CD DCA 1035 [57:31]  


Rather like Lyrita, Hyperion and Chandos, ASV have established a house style for repertoire and booklet design. Their repertoire choice is quirkily swashbuckling. They are a label of exploration and adventure. ASV's choice of the Flesch Quartet is well and truly vindicated here as previously it was for the Rawsthorne string quartets. Their Viennese style of performance is accurately judged and balanced.

There is nothing of Hollywood in these two quartets, the second of which dates from just the year before he was invited to the USA. On first hearing the first quartet hardly registered with me at all. Later hearings reveal a work of half-lights and gentle melancholy. He had just finished Die Tote Stadt and at the age of 23 was enjoying a maturity which for most composers comes twenty years later. The work was premiered on 8th  January 1924. The work had been two years in the writing. The world it evokes has much inwardness and a certain urbanity which I associate with turn of the century Vienna. It comes over as a sensually nostalgic work which is only a shading away from the chamber music of Herbert Howells (try the 1916 piano quartet and the 1923 string quartet). The quiet and sometimes skittish delight of Korngold's music surely reflects his love for Luzi whom he was to wed in Vienna on 30th April 1924. The last movement rather outstays its welcome. In Gramophone (Jan 1998) the reviewer of the Franz Schubert Quartet playing this work, Nimbus (NI5506), commented that the last movement had pre-echoes of the score for The Adventures of Robin Hood. In any event this is a strong work which encourages you to return.

The second quartet (especially the first movement) reminds me of John Foulds' Quartetto Intimo (on Pearl). It has some of that headlong tumbling energy and unbounded lyricism. Are the first movement's fanfare evocations deliberately echoing Beethoven's fifth I wonder. The second movement Intermezzo takes us on a stroll with the charming and unclouded Erich through the leafy Viennese streets. Everything is lovingly etched by the quartet. Perhaps this winning movement was the segment of the quartet which the Flesch performed in BBC's National Lottery Live programme in September 1997! If you enjoy the tuneful Bax String Quartet No.1 you are bound to like this as well. The following 9'02" Lento takes us back into the pastel, shadow and half-light world of emotion. The final waltz movement skips back to the world of the Intermezzo. It is difficult to believe that this work, premiered in Vienna on 16th March 1934, disappeared for years and had to wait until 1997 for its UK premiere. Presumably it was performed during Korngold's Hollywood years?

This is the first of two discs which will set out all three Korngold string quartets. The second disc (yet to be issued) will also offer the String Sextet. There was a 1977 RCA recording of quartets 1 and 3 (Chilingirian) and of No. 2 in a mixed Vox Box from the New World Quartet. I heard the Chilingirian a long time ago and recall fine performances and a dismissive review in Gramophone. The long-deleted Bay Cities disc of the second quartet (BCD1014) has a glowingly warm and husky performance which by a couple of degrees outpoints the Flesch in its gripping immediacy. There may be other recordings but I do not know of them . In any event here is an accessible and inspired CD of the first two and a strong pair of performances satisfying in themselves and whetting anticipation for the next disc. Perhaps the Flesch quartet will have a go at Bax's Third String Quartet a 40 minute work still awaiting its CD premiere?

On a personal note it is good to see violist Michael Ponder's name in the credits as producer. His viola playing no doubt gives him a sensitivity to the recording of string music which comes over very well in this disc. He has done some sterling work for various companies. His Klami collection on Naxos is impressively recorded.

Recommended then but not so much for the fan of full-blooded film music. If you enjoy chamber music you will relish these recordings and should snap them up without delay. Korngold completists will already be on the way to the shops!

Rob Barnett

MONSTER MOVIE MUSIC ALBUM City of Prague Philharmonic/Nic Raine.SILVA SCREEN FILMCD196 [78:33]  

AKIRA IFUKUBE Godzilla Suite; STEINER/BARRY/SCOTT King Kong Suite HERRMANN Mysterious Island Suite; GOLDSMITH Baby Secret Of A Lost Legend ROBERT FOLK Theodore Rex; HORNER The Land Before Time; We're Back DAVID NEWMAN The Flintstones   

Monster films are not everyone's gateau but the generous slice we are offered here is brazen, confident and holds you in its dripping claws from the start. (Apologies for the unhygienic mixed metaphors.) Every facet of this generously filled album declares itself a fun disc. The garishly OTT crude cover design and visuals scream out at you!

Some of the music demonstrates that these composers felt happy to use atonal and experimental methods although ironically the composers here occasionally put on the dissonant style rather than naturally writing that way in their concert music.

The extensive reconstruction and reorchestration work necessary to produce this nest of golden eggs parallels Jurassic Park's scientists!

While there are probably specialist albums offering you more complete selections ,the 13 minutes of Akira Ifukube's Godzilla Suite offers an easy window onto those 'high calorie low nutrition' Japanese monster movies which occasionally attract a mini-season on BBC2 or Channel 4. The suite is a compilation of music from five of the Godzilla 'spawn'. The first track screams and roars, all flailing talons and technicolour and a touch of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. There is a quirky innocent little march and the sixth movement returns to the cataclysmic music of the first and that dino-roar (nervous Piglets be reassured, it was electronically created by Mark Ayres)!

The King Kong Suite (14 mins) pulls together music from the classic and groundbreaking Steiner film, John Barry's score for the 1976 remake and John Scott's King Kong Lives. The Steiner music has a real punch though the opening sounds too much like what we now recognise as classic Cowboys and Indians music. (Given the 1933 vintage Kong probably affected the standard Western B film music rather than vice versa.) Barry momentarily recalls Bliss's machines in Things to Come but he writes a smashing love theme in the second part of track 8 a star track. Here is a long-lined melody curvaceously spun, underpinned by the chirruping of a succulent flute. The Scott track showcases Prague's sumptuously toned French horn section. The odd and obvious shadow of John Williams (Superman) does no harm at all.

The Herrmann tracks are witness to the work of Rudolph Wiederman's work as orchestral contractor. He had to find a total of eight horns and four tubas. Classic tracks and all impressively projected in this recording. This is the 'effects' Herrmann - startling pictorialism, aurally stimulating. None of this represents Herrmann the master-melodist. The reconstruction was done by Christopher Husted.

Goldsmith's music for Baby is innocently tuneful and less hectoring. I did not like the synthesiser contribution and its cheapening effect but this is a comment on the music not the performance or reconstruction. I had never heard of Robert Folk but his Stravinskian music occasionally dissolving into big band jazz was quite striking. The Ravelian choir contribution does not convince though they sing (and are recorded) beautifully.

Nascimbene's music for the trio of Hammer animal-skin bikini prehistory films (196671) is quite striking for its sound effects, wind, earth-rending and rock-clashing. His use of percussion recalls the Icelandic composer Jon Leifs Saga Symphony (recommended and now available on BIS). The reverential Mahlerian tread of the music and the softly wailing choral music are notable in Track 15 though the climactic passage sounds as if it is about to fall into Albert Ketelbey kitsch. The main theme from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth has a Waltonian stride which seems oddly out of keeping with the territory (rather like the anachronistic presence of humans and dinosaurs in the films). The next track sounds rather like Arnold. When is someone going to oblige with a 30 minute selection from The Vikings and chunks from Nascimbene's other historical epics?

Tracks 19 and 20 are by James Horner who seems often about to fall into familiar John Williams' territory and into the Star Trek (NG) theme. Track 19 (end credits The Land Before Time) has a cradling restfulness to it, topped off by the excellent chorus. We're Back (20) begins as an orchestral jig and then swings into a Rumba.

I have seen some criticism of this Silva Screen 'house' orchestra and conductor. From the evidence of my own ears in the Great Romantic Film Music Collection and now this one I must disagree. The orchestra and conductor consistently tap into the echt-style. Trumpets scream desperately - listen to the exuberant hyper-big-band sound they create in The Flintstones (track 21). Horns are rich and uproarious. String tone is deeply sprung and upholstered. This commitment is evident in the uproarious Flintstones track with its rock accents and electric guitar (played by Paul Keogh). This final track finishes with a final 'yabadabadoo' shouted by the men of the Crouch End Festival Chorus and not a trace of British reticence! A joyous, smile-inducing track.

The booklet is informative and all the useful discographic information is there. I would have welcomed some biographical and music background on Akira Ifukube. Design issues raise their heads again. Why compromise informative notes by printing them on a pictorial highly coloured background which makes reading the notes a trial? Enough of my quibbling!

This is a fun album in demonstration quality enjoy it.

Rob Barnett

Claude BOLLING Borsalino OST MILAN 57961-2 [69:34]  


The music for the classic French film Borsalino, starring Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo as a pair of 1920s gangsters, has never been available on compact disc until now - only on vinyl. This new edition has been completely re-mastered and repackaged, with notes from Delon and Stéphanie Lerouge and it includes, for the first time, Bolling's soundtrack for the follow-up film Borsalino & Co.

The score is jazz-based. Bolling was France's premiere jazzman. He created the perky Borsalino sound complete with honky-tonk piano part and 1920s dance rhythms including exotic, sexy tangos and Charlestons etc (you can visualise the flappers cavorting). The main theme became a popular 1970s radio hit and it is still recognisable today. The score also includes shadier orchestral material that is mainly string led as in Bernard Herrmann's Psycho (but with the honky-tonk piano again featured strongly but this time in a far more sinister mode). There are some highly individual tracks with extraordinary instrumentation featuring woodwinds and street organs for example. "Prends-moi matelot" is sung smokily in true Parisian café style by Michèle Bach.

An exuberant and fetching CD - strongly recommended to chase the blues away.

Ian Lace

VIDEO REVIEW: BASIL POLEDOURIS HIS LIFE AND MUSIC Film composers interview series volume one.
Video review Vineyard Haven [50:00] $29.95 available in US and European (not French) formats from FILM SCORE MONTHLY 5455 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1500 Los Angeles CA 900364201 Phone (001) 213 464 7919 Fax: (001) 213937 9277email enquiries (please mention that you saw the review on this site)

All of twenty years ago I recall going to a cinema in Plymouth (UK) to see the remake of  The Blue Lagoon. This was really before I was terribly conscious of (contemporary) film music as something worth pursuing. I was immediately struck and captivated by the sun-drenched, sky blue and sea-deep green, marine-heroic score. Here was a symphonic score approached in all seriousness by the composer and without any discernible tongue-in-cheek. This was a contrast with the impoverished pop-orientated scores with which I was familiar from much of the cinema of the 70s and early 80s. I made a mental note of the composer's name: Basil Poledouris.

Years later that name came back into sharp focus for me with the masterful and magus-like music for the two Conan films. When I heard from Ian Lace that a video documentary about Poledouris's life and music existed I was eager to review it. This coincided with a burst of film score reviewing activity and a chance (I hope) to do an in-depth review of Poledouris's John Milius Conan scores from Varese-Sarabande. The Coventry University Film Music Site is webmastered by Dr Len Mullenger and the editor of the film music section is Ian Lace. Ian suggested I should approach Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly and Lukas with characteristic generosity promptly airmailed a review copy of the video to me.

This is a fifty minute video. As is right and proper, music is much in evidence throughout, though perhaps less orchestral material than we might have hoped. Poledouris, in eloquent and knowing style, plays the piano through much of the soundtrack a continuing weaving fantasy on themes from his many films. The Californian seaboard house in which Poledouris lives and works is the focus for the most of the film. Poledouris touches on his GreekSicilian background, the

Greek element of which contributed to his music for the Olympics. His early career and family life are outlined including his first score (Big Wednesday) for Milius and his feelings of awe at conducting a 75 piece orchestra. The film is structured around an interview but the interviewer is never heard. This allows the maximum space to hear from the affable, humorous and always professional Poledouris.

Poledouris speaks of the reality of the film music industry and the interactions between composer, director and the host of independent contractors who provide a whole variety of services which contribute to the finished film. He clearly relishes working with Milius not least because of Milius's closely engaged interest in the music as a spinal girder in the structure of a film. Poledouris recounts the background to his daughter Zoe's (credited) contribution to the orgy music for the first Conan score. He is also seen working up the score for Starship Troopers.

Poledouris's humour, humanity and his gusto in the tough business of music-making in a very commercial environment comes over very strongly. I can recommend this video. It will enrich your joy in Poledouris's fine film music. A must for all film music fans, aspiring film music composers and those interested in the practicalities of the industry.

Rob Barnett

GEOFFREY BURGON THE TELEVISION SCORES Philharmonia Orchestra/Geoffrey Burgon. ** Lesley Garrett (soprano) SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 117 [58:35]  

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (1981 Granada TV) Variations (18:53) TESTAMENT OF YOUTH (1979 BBC) Suite (9:37) BLEAK HOUSE Suite (1985 BBC) (1l:19) TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (1979 BBC) (3:48) ** THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA suite (1990s BBC) (13:32)   

Many people recognise Burgon's music for Brideshead Revisited. How many of them can name its composer? It is ironic that such distinctive music can be engraved in the memory and yet the composer's name provokes mystification in many of the same people who know the music. Perhaps we should not worry too much the music has served its purpose, entwined inextricably around the plot and the characters.

On this CD Brideshead and four other TV scores are served up in authoritative composer-conducted performances with the Philharmonia. The Brideshead music comprises a theme and five variations. The theme, which has an elegiac spirit, brims with nostalgia and even the vigorous hunt music leans in the same direction.

Testament of Youth opens with a remorseless tread somehow drained of emotion. The music inhabits the same world as Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Serenade, Howell's Elegy and Bliss's Music for Strings. 'Intimations of War' alternates an Edvard Munch-like 'merrygoround' theme with a tender Elgarian stroll. There are some striking bugle-call imitations on the strings: voices prophesying war amid the contentment. The elegy movement has more in common with Ravel than Elgar. The last movement takes us back to Elgar. If occasionally I rather missed Cheryl Campbell's voice intoning the poems it was good to hear the music which is amongst the strongest on this CD.

The Bleak House score has a steadily-paced mystery overhung by a suitably Dickensian miasma. Burgon clearly has a feeling for the novels (he has written a full-length opera based on Hard Times). The ambling pace is a little offset by a bustling Dedlock versus Boythorn movement (13) but the deliberate tread returns for Lady Dedlock's Quest and the Finale.

Tinker Tailor's Nunc Dimittis is sung here by Lesley Garrett in 1992 before the world recognised that she was a star. I do hope Garrett 'fanciers' will not forget this CD track. She is in lovely fresh blooming voice ... and you can hear the words! (Of how many celebrity sopranos can that be said?) The orchestral theme of TTSS is in character without being rivetting.

The Suite from the Chronicles of Narnia now joins the music harpist Marisa Robles wrote for the Michael Hordern readings (ASV) of these magical tales. The horn-blossoming prelude has shades of Brideshead but taps into the Narnian world with a magical immediacy very impressive. For many this will BE Narnia for the rest of their lives! The solo horn and trumpet contribute eerily to The Great Battle. There is a rum-ti-tum sea storm (21) followed by the Britten-like march, The Journey to Harfang. The Farewell to Narnia music is more workmanlike.

Burgon's music is heavy with atmosphere, cleartextured, strong on melody, often slow and apt to fall into a brown study. There perhaps is its weakness. Its strengths are obvious and overwhelming. The music for Testament, the themes for Aslan and Brideshead (shown on UK Channel 4 Feb 1998) all grip the imagination and the memory. This CD is recommended as a souvenir of these series.  


Rob Barnett

Note: In addition to his concert music (some of which has been recorded) Burgon has also written for the large screen. His feature film scores include The Dogs of War, Turtle Diary and Robin Hood (the Patrick Bergin version). The Robin Hood score is also on a Silva Screen CD.

Terence BLANCHARD Eve's Bayou Utah Film Orchestra SONIC IMAGES SID-8707 [53:02]  


Terence Blanchard is an unfamiliar name to me. Apparently he comes from Louisiana so he was a natural choice for a film set in the swamp-lands of that State. After the poundings of so many thrillers, this score makes a refreshing change. Like Elmer Bernstein's To Kill A Mockingbird it is music for a screenplay that sees much of the action through the eyes of a child. In fact there are many resemblances between the two scores. Like Bernstein, Blanchard uses his forces sparingly concentrating on individual instruments or small ensembles including a jazz quartet more often than a full orchestral complement which is reserved for emotional climaxes. The producers asked for a score that was "Epic Black Southern Gothic"; they got something small and intimate. Some cues seem to evoke the cotton-wool-like infestations and the dark gloom of the Louisiana swamps but the overall impression is one of a quiet resignation and tenderness. A tendency towards repetition, limited variety and a Michael Nyman-like monotonous minimalism mars an otherwise quite delightful issue.

Ian Lace

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