June 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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A Song For Dead Warriors  Original score for the San Francisco Ballet Production
Music composed by Charles Fox
  Performed by the Nationalo Philharmonic Orchestra of London conducted by Jean-Louis LeRoux
  Available on a Promo Album (Warrior Productions) CFCD 02
Running Time: 38:28

song for dead warriors

The ballet A Song for Dead Warriors, in a series of vignettes, traces the life of an Indian man from his birth to his death and was inspired by events in the life of Richard Oaks, a Canadian Mohawk Indian who was one of the leaders of the young Native Americans who occupied Alcatraz Island in 1969. Some idea of the plot lines might be evinced from track descriptions like: ‘Young Indians – Festive Dance’; ‘Richard and Anna – Pas de Deux; ‘The Sheriff Returns/Rape Scene’; ‘Anna Carried Off By the Chiefs’; ‘Richard Lost in Despair’; ‘Pool Hall, Richard Knocked Unconscious’; Richard Dreams of a Return to the Days of the Buffalo’; and ‘Richard Dream’s of Anna’s Return’.

A large National Philharmonic delivers a vibrant, virile performance of Charles Fox’s colourful and exciting, eclectic score that nods towards Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. It opens with Indian chants and material recalling The Rite of Spring and wilder West Side Story dances with rattlesnake sounds and eerie vagaries plus percussive piano and brass chords echoing and answering across the sound stage.

There are impressive and imaginative orchestrations and harmonies here. For instance, ‘The Sheriff Returns’ is remote and chill with unusual harp effects and the succeeding ‘Rape Scene’ is quite horrendous with crashing chords and a crushing climactic tam-tam crash. The ‘Richard and Anna – Pas de Deux’ is a prickly, tentative dance and the evocation of ‘Pool Hall’ is extraordinarily harsh and steely. On a more conventional level the music for the days of the buffalo and the old west could easily have been plucked from the conventional western film scores of the 1940s and 50s.

An evocative, brooding, violent score with occasional lyrical relief.

Ian Lace

 ***(*) 31/2

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