I am reviewing this music from an advance review copy with no detail except the 20 track headings From the Universal web site I learnt that director (Gary Ross), actor (Tobey Maguire) and composer of Pleasantville are reunited for Seabiscuit, a film about three guys (Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper are the others) and a famous race horse.
Multi-academy award nominated Randy Newman contributes another delightful, well-crafted score that should land him fresh laurels come the next crop of Oscars. His other nominations have included Ragtime, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Babe: Pig in the City, and Meet the Parents. This album is certainly the most attractive new score to have come my way for months.
Like so many of Randy's scores there is always something to captivate the ear, it embraces a wide variety of styles even within single tracks. Much of the material is in elegiac mood, sometimes gently-flowing pastoral, sometimes poignant, quasi-military with solemn brass chords, quite in requiem mood. Then there are tracks that are 'country and western' suggestive of the Kentucky or Tennessee countryside and perhaps horses in training. The racing music thrills with Newman capturing very well the excitement of the racetrack and the varying rhythms of galloping hooves.
Stand-out tracks include the impressionistic Ravelian 'Frankie' with its cool flute solo; the tremolando string tension before the race then the unbridled, joyous abandon as the horse streaks along at the 'Derby'; the relaxed, tender guitar solo preceding the lovely melody for strings and clarinet then the quirky march that is 'Pumpkin' and the Copland-like folk material leading to an atmospheric 'Night Ride/Accident' with its Herrmann-like atmosphere and phantom figures.
Another charming score from Randy Newman.