December 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Jerry GOLDSMITH
The Omen  
  The Deluxe Edition) Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lionel Newman
  VARÈSE SDARABANDE VSD-6288   [49:23]
The Final Conflict  
  (The Deluxe Edition) Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lionel Newman
  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6289   [62:40]

The Omen Final Conflict

This new 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s celebrated Academy Award-winning score for The Omen not only comes in stunning sound but it also boasts an additional seven cues and fifteen minutes extra music over and above the original LP and initial Varèse Sarabande release.

Goldsmith’s black mass music is still as powerful and disturbing as when it first shocked theatre audiences for this gruesome tale of the boyhood of the antichrist. The constantly shifting irregular rhythms, diabolical dissonances and grotesque glissandos; the howling choruses and extraordinary orchestrations that Goldsmith conjures up for such cues as ‘Broken Vows’ and ‘The Killer Storm’ as well as the opening ‘Ave Satani’ all add up to a terrifying musical experience. The producers of this low-budget chiller apparently had to appeal to 20th Century Fox for extra funding to commission this work from Goldsmith: wisely as it turns out for the score was part of the success of The Omen trilogy right from the start. As Robert Townson points out, in his usual fulsome notes, "the making of…" feature connected to the DVD release of the film made repeated tributes to this score even before the film’s stars were mentioned. The score also includes early tranquil music of family love before the devil-child starts to wreak havoc. ’Pity we have to endure the inevitable obligatory inane pop song at the end.

Goldsmith’s score for the final instalment of the trilogy, The Final Conflict is just as impressive if not more so than for The Omen in that it contrasts the diabolical with the divine thus adding that more interest and variety. The big advantage of this new Deluxe 25th Anniversary edition of this highly popular score is the markedly superior sound quality over its original LP incarnation. This new edition has strongly benefited from a dramatic remastering of the original session masters. Furthermore two new cues (‘The Statue’ and ‘666’) have been added plus a considerable extension of the score’s (and the trilogy’s) grand finale.

Again one admires the innovative and imaginative treatment of the music that rivets one’s attention and deepens the horror of the onscreen-hokum. The harmonies, the trenchant darkly coloured orchestrations, and the writing for the chorus are all highly effective. I particularly admired the fast-moving cue, ‘The Hunt’ with its tremendously exciting driving rhythms and its sly allusions to Liszt in Mephisto mode. The music is consistently tense, often brutally crushing, with Goldsmith creating an atmosphere of dank evil foreboding; no wonder we jumped out of our seats every time an opponent of Damien was executed. The beatific music is in contrast, in its ultimate triumph, is glorious.

A stunning full-bodied recording and an excellent souvenir of two top drawer Goldsmith scores

Ian Lace

****(*)

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