Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Introduction by the Reviews Editor

January 1998

Welcome to a regular monthly feature of reviews of leading, current film music recordings. We are lucky to be commencing it at a very auspicious time for the following reasons:-

1) For many years film music has been looked down upon and denigrated by the musical purists. Now, at long last, there is growing evidence that the art form is now being taken seriously by the musical establishment. For instance -

(a) In 1996, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the cinema, the Royal Academy of Music, in London, featured a series of presentations on film music, and film composer John Williams was a guest lecturer.

(b) The Korngold centenary celebrations, in 1997, again focused attention on film music and important Korngold scores, such as Between Two Worlds, were issued by major companies like Decca.

(c) The continuing success of recordings of important historic film scores pioneered by Charles Gerhardt in the 1970s, and continued by Marco Polo, Silva Screen, Sony etc - and now Nonesuch - is alsofocusing increasing attention on the genre.

(d) Conductors of international stature, such as Muti (see editor’s choice below) are beginning to explore the music - and, interestingly -

(e) a recent BBC2 (UK TV) documentary on the life of Wagner actually showed a poster of King Kong and stated that Max Steiner had carried on Wagner’s example by using the system of leitmotivs in his ground breaking 1933 score (see review of the new Marco Polo release below).

I am firmly convinced that generations living through the next century will come to regard films as a serious art form to be considered equal to other accepted visual arts and literature; and, correspondingly, that film music will come into its own. That is not to say that we should not be selective; much rubbish is composed for the screen but the odd 5% must be preserved and we should be grateful to enthusiasts such as the late George Korngold and now, for instance, John Morgan, for diligently seeking out all the elements and reconstructing these marvellous scores.

2) The 70th Academy Award nominations were announced this month. For a full list of nominations see... Nominated scores are reviewed on these pages: James Horner’s thrilling music for Titanic which is widely tipped to receive an Oscar, Jerry Goldsmith’s diamond hard score for L.A. Confidential. (It is hoped to carry a special feature on Jerry Goldsmith soon), Philip Glass’s powerful and evocative score for Kundun and John Williams' life-affirming score for Amistad. Reviews of other nominated score recordings will be added shortly.

A word about the star ratings, they signify:-

very good

Sometimes the last star will appear bracketed. Thus:


good - nearly very good almost excellent with some minor reservations

In May 1999 we added a new symbol. Some CDs we receive give us headaches in various degrees of severity. The music might just be inferior, or the recorded sound below standard, or consistently over-loud - or there may be too little variety so that we suffer from repetitive strain. This symbol awarded as

Slightly uncomfortable;

uncomfortable; and

distinctly uncomfortable - avoid.

The reviewers include myself and Rob Barnett who edits British Music Society News and is, himself, a keen admirer of film music. Other reviewers will join us. If you are interested in joining the team please contact Ian Lace.

July 1999

Helen San designed a new front page and logo for this site. Helen runs the respected Cinemusic  site.

Ian Lace  

Return to Film Music Main Page