December 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

John FRIZZELL Teaching Mrs Tingle OST   VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6064 [30:30]

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Immediately one recognises that Frizzell is paying homage to Bernard Herrmann in this darkly comic and atmospheric score for Teaching Mrs Tingle. One recognises a broad hint of Herrmann's theme that underscores the scene in which the Janet Leigh character is driving through the rain to the Bates Motel in Psycho. Later one also hears hints from The Trouble With Harry (and a subtle hint of John Williams's music for Presumed Innocent).

Lest I be misunderstood, by mentioning these quotations, I hasten to add that Frizzell has created a fresh and innovative, and powerful and intriguing score that consistently interests the ear. It is full of quirks and arresting off-beat effects. There are some entertaining and exciting sudden shifts of musical gears. What begins as some ghostly wailing, for instance, slides into a jazz blues number. Some of the music is firmly tongue in cheek, the odd cuckoo-like sounding fragments signal that Frizzell is teasing you. At other times, the music is deadly serious and it chills with its sudden frighteningly violent eruptions.

This score seems to me to be an ideal solution for what seems to be a hybrid of a film that contains elements of comedy, drama and suspense. Frizzell writes in a warmer sympathetic vein for the heroine Leigh Anne, to contrast with the more spiky, grotesque material for the wickedness that surrounds the evil Mrs Tingle.

I will refrain from track by track analyses for the music is so quicksilver as to frequently embrace many moods in one single track. Just take it from me that this is an unusual and fascinating score worth hearing more than once.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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