September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Sept01/

Compilation: Apocalypse - Cinema Choral Classics SILVA [74:33]



This collection could never really do any wrong in my eyes (or ears). I'm a sucker for choral music and allowing for a few missteps, this is a very solid compilation, performed with aplomb by the Crouch End Festival Chorus (conducted by David Temple) and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine and Paul Bateman.

Let me begin by criticising the few lows that are on offer. The title theme from The Longest Day (1962) by Paul Anka is a typically 60s, upbeat, would-be rousing war cry, but hasn't really aged well and its appeal is limited. But while no fault can be found in the actual performing in that case, I must take issue in that regard with the selection from Wojciech Kilar's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). While I accept that the cue chosen (entitled 'The Storm' on the original soundtrack) is a difficult piece to translate, this interpretation just doesn't work at all, falling a very long way short of the quirky brilliance of the original. Too many times it degenerates into a cacophonous shambles, particularly in the latter stages, becoming shrill and irritating where its dissonance should have been controlled and vivid. Putting this aside though, there are many sterling tracks to compensate and in stark contrast, Kilar is well served by 'Vocalise' from The Ninth Gate (1999), a very beautiful, haunting soprano solo piece that has a slight Morricone sensibility to it, while still retaining the composer's own uniquely stylish and inventive stamp. Toto's extraordinary music from Dune (1984) is nicely realised too in what is really a mini suite incorporating several key motifs, including their stunning main theme. John Barry's The Last Valley (1970) is represented by another outstanding 'Main Title' theme and given a strong rendition here. 'Waxing Elizabeth' from Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) by Bruce Broughton is another terrific track and Williams' 'Duel of Fates' from Star Wars - The Phantom Menace (1999), also benefits from a very solid reading. But best of all is Starman (1984) by the late Jack Nitzsche, a very touching, emotional theme, not because it's my favourite piece in musical terms, but because this is a new orchestral version (originally it was created entirely on synthesizer). This is where this kind of compilation comes into its own, in that an existing piece has been adapted into something fresh and vibrant.

On the strength of this I would very much like to hear the previous two collections, 'Cinema Choral Classics' and 'Cinema Choral Classics II'. Apart from the misfire of Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I recommend you hear in its original incarnation to fully appreciate its excellence, there are many powerful selections on display here. Certainly enough to satisfy both choral and film music fans alike.

Mark Hockley

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