October 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s CHOICE October 2000


Lalo SCHIFRIN (with John E. DAVIES)
The Best of Mission: Impossible
- featuring music from the original TV series (1968-72 and 1988-90) plus an exclusive 15 minute interview with Peter Graves and a live performance of the extended Mission Impossible Theme

  The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin
  GNP Crescendo GNPD 8029  [70:39]
(Note:This album was released in 1992)
GNP Crescendo website

Forget the two big-screen Mission Impossible absurdities and their inferior music (especially Mission Impossible 2), this is the original, the real stuff, the really exciting music that helped make the original TV programmes one of the most successful series in the history of the medium.

In his interview included on this album, Peter Graves, a musician (clarinet and saxophone) turned actor (Jim Phelps in both TV series) says of Schifrin's Mission: Impossible music: "Lalo's score was strong and powerful; an extraordinary piece of music. In those days it was new and fresh. It fitted the subject like a glove. He took what was already a pretty good TV series and lifted it another 70% with that music."

Yes indeed, and the album demonstrates his skill and resourcefulness in writing so many colourful variations on the main title theme and that crisp, grimly determined military "Mission March" set out in track 2 - 'The Plot' - with those well-remembered snare drum and cymbal figures over a trenchant double bass line. Throughout this album there is never a tedious moment (of how many CDs can one make a claim like that?) there is always something to interest and thrill, and even beguile the ear -- I am thinking of the more relaxed ambling or slinky numbers like 'The Trick' and 'Tape Machine'.

John E. Davis was brought in to write music, with a contemporary edge for the revived Mission: Impossible TV series of the late 1980s. He succeeded in producing material that seamlessly extended Lalo's original inspiration. Still maintaining that essential Schifrin rhythmic energy and drive, Davies added atmosphere, appropriate to the episode and its location (e.g. - 'The Bayou' and 'The Plague'), and intelligently integrated a wide variety of electronic instruments.

The Peter Graves interview, which I guess was conducted in the very early 1990s, has many interesting facets including a conjecture about a possible feature film. (It was not until 1996 that Tom Cruise and Brian de Palma burst upon the big screen to totally ruin the unique atmosphere and image of the original TV series).

The excitement of the live performance of the Mission Impossible Theme by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin is palpable and it makes a thrilling close to this generously filled album.

Ian Lace



Ian Lace


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