June 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Gabriel’s Oboe – Musica d’Amore del Cinema  
Performed by Holly Gornik (oboe & English horn)
  LA East Orchestra
  Available from EJG Productions 71105 40012  
Running time: 52.1
Amazon US
This disc can also be ordered direct from www.hollygornik.com

gabriels oboe

Themes from:

  • Imperio De Cristal - Bebu Silvetti
  • Sophie's Choice – Marvin Hamlisch
  • Gabriel's Oboe from "The Mission" – Ennio Morricone
  • Leia's Theme – John Williams
  • Titanic Theme – James Horner
  • Schindler's List – John Williams
  • Il Postino Theme - Luis Enrique Bacalov
  • Tea With Mussolini - Alessio Vlad and Stefano Arnaldi
  • Concierto de Aranjuez (arrangement of adagio) – Rodrigo
  • Con le Partiro - Franceso Satori
  • Gabriel's Oboe (Reprise)
  • Imperio de Cristal (Reprise)

Holly Gornik is almost certainly an unfamiliar name, so a little biography is in order. She is an oboist and English hornist with the Utah Symphony, and an adjunct professor at the University of Utah, Weber State University and Westminster College. A talented artist, responsible for all the artwork on the present album, as a freelance musician she has performed on the soundtracks of over 275 film and TV scores. This new album presents 12 tracks of what might best be described as elegant pseudo-classical arrangements of romantic film and television themes, arranged and produced by the film, theatre and ballet composer Jay Richards (The Silence of Speed). Richards also plays piano on the album, while making this both a thoroughly professional, yet at the same time entirely personal project, the co-producer and trumpet player is Holly’s husband, Edward Gornik.

The set straddles a curious divide, containing attractive yet relatively obscure melodies from mainly Latin art-house productions which, taking the lead from the title piece follow largely in the melodic vein of Ennio Morricone, with a couple of pieces which would seem more at home on the average mainstream crowd pleasing MOR movie themes disc. These are a version of John Williams’ "Princess Leia’s Theme" from Star Wars, and James Horner’s main theme from Titanic, complete with wave sounds. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they seem out of place with the rest of the disc, only here to make sure there is something really famous on the album. Likewise one has to wonder at the inclusion of an arrangement of the central melody from the second (adagio) movement of Rodrigo’s guitar concerto, the Concierto de Aranjuez. Certainly the music seems more in-keeping with the majority of the album, but though it has appeared in various films and TV productions (from Don Juan Tenorio in 1952 onwards), it is not film or TV music.

Nevertheless, such quibbles aside, this is a highly enjoyable release. The opening composition by Bebu Silvetti, Imperio de Cristal (from a 1995 Spanish TV series) certainly sounds imperial, commencing with a nostalgic piano solo before the main melody enters on oboe, a lovely lyrical theme. One can imagine a sweepingly romantic tale of fate, intrigue and love found and lost. Holly Gornik played the oboe parts for the original TV soundtrack, so this concert version of the themes is a most appropriate way to introduce this programme. Clearly music close to Gornik’s heart, the disc ends with an effective piano solo reprise of the same theme. Indeed, the title tune, Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission (1985), is also reprised as the penultimate track. The main version here is an excellent reading, described by no less than the film’s producer, David Puttnam, as the finest he has heard. I certainly won’t argue.

The Latin sensibility is continued with highly appealing music from the Italian dramas Il Postino by Luis Enrique Bacalov and Tea With Mussolini by Alessio Vlad and Stefano Arnaldi, as well as by an arrangement of the song "Con te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye)", composed by Franceso Satori. Though the booklet doesn’t say so, this last piece, sounding for all the world like an elegant film theme, actually orginates as a hugely successful 1995 hit song for Andrea Bocelli. A massive anthem in Italy, this melody has become a signature tune for the artist and become a piece of elevator music heard around the world. It has also been featured in several episodes of the TV series, The Sopranos, South Park and Providence.

The album ventures north for two Holocaust dramas, offering a strikingly noble interpretation of Marvin Hamlisch’s theme from Sophie’s Choice, as well as the more familiar Schindler’s List by John Williams.

Something of a mixed programme which personally I would have preferred without the contributions from John Williams and James Horner, this is a hugely attractive release which is just the sort of disc which with the right promotion could take-off to become a surprise crossover success. Many of the tracks could slot right into the Classic FM playlist with no difficultly at all. Usually I wouldn’t say that was a good thing, but this is an unusually dignified and refined anthology of subtle and lyrical film themes which deserves to find a wide market, from devotees of Light Music and "smooth classics" through to film music fans happy to accept both re-arrangements and a disc entirely free of action set-pieces. Holly Gornik’s musicianship is first rate and the orchestral and other solo musicians provide a strong showcase for her remarkable talent. The artwork is most appealing too, and makes one want to head straight for Italian shores!

Gary Dalkin

**** 4

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