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Jerry GOLDSMITH THE OMEN The Essential Jerry Goldsmith Film Music Collection City of Prague PO/Nic Raine (Crouch End Festival Chorus)  SILVA Screen 2 CDS FILMXCD199 [132:58] 2CDs

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Another fine, generously filled and inexpensive 2CD collection of film scores re-recorded in Prague by an orchestra and conductor who seem to be able to absorb styles and convey them with much of and sometimes more than the original electricity. Don't be put off by the budget cover design.

Disc 1: Capricorn One (1978) - a propulsive hammering score with in this overture a central ripely unfolding theme. Masada (1980) is almost jazzy in its vigour but has the slightly exotic edge we expect from a Biblical (TV) epic. It is clearly a favourite score for extracts from it were chosen by Goldsmith when he conducted a public concert of his film music with the BBC Concert Orchestra a couple of years ago. Under Fire (1983) is one of a genre of bleak South/Central American movies usually involving journalists caught up in the fighting and living on or over the edge. The score is very powerful and Silva have done a great job in bringing it out. It uses plenty of South American devices including the usual breathy pan-pipes in the first segment of a four movement suite. There is plenty of tension sustained under the shadowy brilliance of the solo guitar. There are the inevitable echoes of Concierto de Aranjuez. But the minatory atmosphere and the paranoid forward pressure of the music is very different. The aimlessly warbling synth in the third movement sounds all wrong but probably reflects that part of the score. The pan-pipes close the suite with some of the atmosphere of a Spaghetti Western.

Basic Instinct (1991) was and remains a notorious film for one explicit scene. The brief clock-ticking main theme carries the overcast claustrophobic quality of the movie. You can cut the atmosphere with a knife a very sharp knife! The Great Train Robbery (1978) is one of Michael Crichton's finest early novels dealing with the first such robbery in Victorian times. The book is strong on Victorian criminal underclass argot. The score has some train-like material and an almost musichall/vaudeville edge with a touch of French influence perhaps in line with Poulenc. The Omen (1976) has a large choral contribution and the black cloud-hung music mixing the darker moments of Orff and perhaps Ligeti's Grand Macabre are spot on. The music tolls and shudders, wails and screams with some brief relief in the shape of a big romantic tune in the middle of the suite. Baby Secret of a Lost Legend (1985) is unremarkable except for that horrid synth but again this almost certainly follows the OST. The tune which emerges is charming and succulent perhaps a little like one of John Barry's. The Shadow 1994 has a dark and threatening score. The high romantic theme of The Russia House (1990) is quite striking. The Swarm (1978) has the predictable buzzing rather well done in a Herrmann-like effect. However the second extract from that score is surprisingly romantic (almost Howard Hanson) blooming, brighteyed and with an occasional lurch in the direction of the Star Trek Voyager theme.

Disc 2: The Blue Max (1966): When I first started reading film music reviews a review of an LP of the music for this film caught my attention. The reviewer (in Fanfare, I think) thought extremely highly of the score. I had not heard any of it until I came across this disc. The 8 minute suite is in three segments and has a wonderful high-coursing horn carried theme which reappears in the second movement. The evocation of the wild wind to which the World War I flyers were closer is clear. This is most impressive music. It is interesting to note the Goldsmith accent and the lay of the big tune in which, in retrospect, the seeds of the Star Trek Voyager theme can be glimpsed.The Boys From Brazil (1978) is a big over-the-top waltz sequence with plenty of glitzy Viennese atmosphere. First Knight (1995) you expect to be a sub-Prince Valiant (Waxman) folly. No disappointment there. The Richard Straussian fanfares which open proceedings are superb and delivered here with weighty aplomb. The battle music with the choir is Korngoldian - surging and swelling and with several unmistakable quotes from Vaughan Williams' 6th Symphony. The death of Arthur is touchingly done with suitably subdued horns to the fore.

Total Recall (1990) opens in mystery and the sound of clashing metal and a propulsive beat. Over this wings a long-limbed tune. Overall I was reminded of one of Stephen Sondheim's powerful tunes. This is a great track! Powder (1997) is an example of Goldsmith in Horner-like pastoral mode. Macarthur (1977) and Patton (1970) are dealt with in a single five star General package. A marching metallic rhythm launches the miniature suite. The jaunty Macarthur march has the military glitter, swash and buckle but also the zest of the Magnificent Seven and just a hint of Addison's devastatingly apposite A Bridge Too Far. The distanced, dying and echoing fanfares of Patton are again lovingly done. The march was later to prove an inspiration for the Police Academy theme. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) predictably uses Marius Constant's tinkling theme from the original TV series but soon casts it aside to resort to a pastoral Spring morning joy which occasionally melts into and out of atonal focus. The movie was a Spielberg production and I wonder if Goldsmith enjoyed making some of it sound as if it might have come from John Williams, Spielberg's usual composer. I liked the rasping viola work at 4:52 and the slightly manic train piston noises which close the piece.

First Blood/Rambo II (1982): the main themes hiss and threaten or brazenly strut with a slightly more subtle approach than the reputation of the films might suggest. Goldsmith scored all three Rambo movies. Medicine Man (1992) has yet more of the sensitive Horner touch with another warmly developing theme. Star Trek Suite (1979, 1994, 1997). This is the longest suite among the two discs. While I now find the original series very hard work I am a great follower of all the later versions of ST. The music goes a long way to ramp up the magic and allure of these series. From the beginning Alexander Courage set a high standard and Goldsmith's work on the sequels has improved on the original. This 4-movement suite concentrates on the film scores. I am pretty sure that this is the same suite he included in his concert on BBC Radio 2 three or four years ago. It is the only disappointment in the set with a rather torpid approach to the music. I enjoyed the Klingon attack music but wondered about a certain lack of impact. I suspect that the more natural concert perspective favoured by Silva may have contributed to this impression. I am not sure that the crackle, zip and depth of perspective enjoyed in the original soundtracks is captured. It all sounds a bit cautious which is in strong contrast to the other tracks. Perhaps player and conductor were suffering from Goldsmith burnout when the sessions happened.


Most of the orchestrations are by Arthur Morton. The (English-only) 12 page notes by David Wishart are fine: strong on background of the film in each case and giving, date, director and leading actors. What a pity though that the solo guitarist in Under Fire is not named. [We have been notified by silva Screen that the gutarist is named in the booklet and is Milan Zelenka (Len Mullenger)]

Goldsmith is a resourceful composer. His 'musical fingerprints' make his stuff distinctive. He also has quite a varied palette taking in, along the way, ebullient decadent waltz music of The Boys from Brazil, wide open spaces pastoralism, and the spread-canvas heroics of Star Trek. There is a great deal to enjoy here. Recommended.

Rob Barnett

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