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May 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

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COMPETITION WIN a CD of your Choice


EDITOR’S CHOICE – CD of the Month May 1999


Collection: STRANGELOVE – Music for the films of Stanley Kubrick SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 303 [78:01]




RICHARD STRAUSS 2001 - A Space Odyssey JOHANN STRAUSS II Beautiful Blue Danube ALEX NORTH Spartacus - Main title BEETHOVEN Ode to Joy (synthesised) TRADITIONAL Barry Lyndon: Women of Ireland; HANDEL Sarabande ABIGAIL MEAD Full Metal Jacket: Themes; FRAZIER/WHITE/WILSON/HARRIS Surfin Bird GERALD FRIED: suite from early films: The Killing main title and robbery; Killer’s Kiss; Fear and Desire Meditation on War, Madness; Paths of Glory - patrol; Day of the Fight - march; WENDY CARLOS The Shining: Theme Midnight the stars and you BOB HARRIS Lolita Love theme LAURIE JOHNSON Dr Strangelove - Bomb Run; PARKER/CHARLES We’ll Meet Again

This album had been in production over the last two years and so what had been planned as a celebration of the films of Stanley Kubrick has now, sadly, become a memorial. But what a splendid production it is! It spans all the master’s films and takes in many different musical styles to comprise a very satisfying musical experience. It commences with a robust floor-board quaking reading of the opening of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra used to such great effect for the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I must say that I have always felt that Kubrick was right to ditch Alex North’s not-too-inspired music in favour of source material from the classics. Later on in the album we also hear Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube which once again was such an apt choice for the space station sequences. The final two selections in this album represent another inspired bit of album programming. Both are deeply ironic cues, considering the release of the doomsday machine at the end of Dr Strangelove: ‘The Bomb Run’ based on ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’; and Vera Lynn singing her World War II hit, ‘We’ll Meet Again’

Following the opening selection, Also Sprach…, we have a wonderfully chilling reading of Alex North’s increasingly dissonant and brutal Main Title music from Spartacus, followed by an equally crushing and jaunty synth version of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ finale from the Choral Symphony as used in A Clockwork Orange. The beautiful cinemaphotography of Barry Lyndon was a vital part of its success, particularly the early scenes in Ireland when Barry looses his innocence and his fortune. From the film the traditional Irish air, ‘Women of Ireland’ is given a magical rendition while the percussion part of Handel’s Sarabande is heavily emphasised to underline Lyndon’s growing insensitivity and cruelty. Abigail Mead’s brutal and barbaric themes for Full Metal Jacket are heavily accented towards snare drums, bass drum and heavy synth percussion (with synths cleverly lampooning the in-training soldiers chants as they run-march).

Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind supply some wonderfully synth grisly, ghostly figures (much more interesting and imaginative than the norm) entwined with a distorted Die Irae for The Shining. The other excerpt from this Jack Nicolson chiller is source music: ‘Midnight, the Stars and You’ with the Ray Noble Band and Al Bowly used to underscore the 1920s party in the haunted hotel. A warmer but slightly edgy ‘Love Theme’ for Lolita by Bob Harris, looks back to the sort of surging late romantic music one associates with Rachmaninov.

A major highlight of the album is a very impressive six-movement suite of music by Gerald Fried who scored Kubrick’s earlier films. The compelling, obsessive Main Title music from The Robbery opens the suite followed by the mix of swirling and staccato robbery music. Punctuated by rasping and sardonically commenting brass, it grows in intensity when the tension mounts as things start to go badly wrong. Killer’s Kiss has an extraordinarily sinister march with glissandos that sound like fingernails dragging screeching, down glass together with bitterly neighing brass – an amazing creation. Fear and Desire is represented by two tracks: ‘A Meditation on War’, a sad, demented visualisation, and ‘Madness’ in which the revulsion is further developed with a demonic Stravinsky-like (L’ histoire du soldat) violin solo. Paths of Glory is represented by ‘The Patrol’, a cold, grotesque, merciless, completely percussion-orientated cue ending in a crushing tam-tam crash. Finally, we are reminded of barbaric Roman splendours and gladiatorial combat in March of the Gloved Gladiators from Day of the Fight.

A splendid collection – one of Silva’s best - with The City of Prague Philharmonic on top form, captured in stunning sound.


Ian Lace

Rob Barnett says :-

This is a treasury album packed with a rewarding and often surprising selection of music. Represented here are both aspects of Kubrick’s attitude to scores for the big screen. He had a place for both original scores and his own discriminating selection of classical music. 2001 is an example of an instance where his first choice of an original score commissioned from Alex North (since recorded) was discarded and in its place substituted a very famous selection of classical pieces which sold the LP in tens of thousands and which arguably pushed Richard Strauss back out into the popular spotlight. As for Johann Strauss I wonder how many people were introduced to The Blue Danube by the film and the space-station ballet enacted against the background of Strauss’s music.

The CD mixes original tracks licensed from others with re-recordings by the Prague orchestra. The licensed tracks include popular tracks: Vera Lynn in We’ll Meet Again (well known in the UK but used with devastating effect to point up that no-one would be meeting again at the end of Dr Strangelove), Ray Noble (suavely crooning) etc in Midnight The Stars and You and Surfin Bird (Full Metal Jacket) raucously scatty.  

Electronics also played a part in Kubrick’s scores. The Beethoven Ode to Joy from A Clockwork Orange synthesised Beethoven in a way entirely appropriate to the sadly desolate landscape of the film. Abigail Mead’s themes from Full Metal Jacket are janglingly effective in much the same way as Wendy Carlos’s electronic score from The Shining.

Alex North’s whooping scarifying brass romp and shout across the epic landscape of Spartacus’s main titles. The war cries alternate with a Shostakovichian (Leningrad) march all quiet, purposeful and full of bitter menace. This is a truly glorious track.

This disc surprised me by reintroducing me to a piece of music which I heard many years ago and by which I was completely enthralled. This I the traditional tune Women of Ireland from the film Barry Lyndon. It is given the full symphonic treatment unlike the Chieftains track by which I first came to know the piece. It is however done with restraint and taste and the tune emerges in full tear-stained flight though not at all mawkish. You might have feared that the tune would be stifled by the full orchestra - on the contrary it spreads its wings wide and deep! When the full orchestra enters you are taken to the very borders of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Dorset (Far From the Madding Crowd) or at least reminded that the Irish counties gave something to Dorset or that Dorset gave something to them.

Then comes six tracks of music from Kubrick’s collaborations with composer Gerald fried whose notes about the recording session are included in the 12 page booklet. The brusquely energetic titles for The Killing contend competitively with Rózsa for the laurels for film noir music. Eerily high violins and squat brass serenade each other discordantly in a celebration of menace (Killer’s Kiss). Fried wrings threat from battlefield fanfares in Fear and Desire. Bats fly out from the eye-sockets of the death’s head in Madness from the same film. The Patrol from Paths of Glory is a tension-filled tone poem for percussion alone - an orchestration decision taken from choice not budgetary necessity. The suite ends in shabby sardonic bombast with March of the Gloved Gladiators.

Bob Harris’s music for Lolita is a slightly ‘gloopy’ film piano concerto which might well have found a comfortable place amidst Naxos’s fine 1998 collection of film piano concertos. Laurie Johnson suitably hollow victory march Bomb Run from Dr Strangelove. This deploys Johnny Comes Marching Home - and of course he doesn’t!

Fine notes from David Wishart although I wish someone would ask me to proof  read them to pick up a small scattering of typos.

No complaints about short playing time on this single CD volume! This is a very fine volume and should attract music lovers of all types.


Rob Barnett

Paul Tonks says :-

Hopefully there’s no need to point out that this isn’t a tasteless marketing exercise. What it is however, is an intriguing showcase of just how fussy the late Kubrick was. Collected together this way it really goes to show what eclectic tastes he had, and knowing even a little of how adamant he always was about his own choices really makes this a curiosity to have.

Some pretty obvious inclusions are here: Strauss’ "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and "On The Blue Danube" from 2001, "We’ll Meet Again" from Dr Strangelove, and Beethovens’ "Ode To Joy" from A Clockwork Orange. It’s great to see Silva throwing the classics about, but the other fun precedent is the use of song. Licensing the likes of The Thrashmen’s "Surfin’ Bird" from Full Metal Jacket and "Midnight, The Stars, and You" from The Shining are an indication that the Silva compilations may be about to take an even more diverse turn - which will open all sorts of doors for them.

The CD’s ‘middle’ section is probably of most interest to collectors. Gerald Fried collaborated on the inclusion of a suite from 5 of the early films Kubrick kick-started his career with. It has to be said that The Killing and Paths of Glory are classics that predictably stand out, but Killer’s Kiss is surprisingly eerie in places. Sandwiched as it is however between dramatic highs, the ‘suite’ is a little turgid and mis-matched to consider a successful whole.

There’s something there that translates to the disc as a whole. It comes down to which side of the fence you stand upon one particular point - does Kubrick’s diversity play well to the ear ? Can you admire that diversity for what it is, or is it all too much of a throw-together ?

Personally I have nearly always appreciated abrupt changes in style on disc. Sometimes the sequencing can work wonders with such changes. I think the transition from Mark Ayres’ electronic noodling with A Clockwork Orange to the gorgeous solo fiddle of "Women of Ireland" from Barry Lyndon is delightful. To me it’s perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek to make that jump, but the real point is the director’s insatiable desire never to repeat himself.

To which end you can expect this album to be a complete one-off. Don’t listen with your ears wide shut.


Paul Tonks


EDITOR’S CHOICE (Historical) May 1999


TOSCHA SEIDEL – the RCA Victor Recordings and FRANCK Sonata in A Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD Much Ado About Nothing Suite  Dimitri TIOMKIN arrangements of Strauss Waltzes plus music by Mozart; Wagner and Brahms etc. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (piano); Toscha Seidel (violin) and other artists BIDDULPH LAB 138 [73:31]


Korngold, himself, at the piano playing his own Much Ado About Nothing Suite, in collaboration with the renowned viloinist Toscha Seidel, is the highlight of this wonderful album. This twelve-minute, or so, Much Ado… Suite consists of four movements. There are the lovely romantic ‘Bridal Morning’, and ‘Intermezzo (Garden Scene)’ movements with their beguiling melodies. Dogberry and Verges (March of the Watch) anticipates the jolly bombast of the Sherwood Forest music from The Adventures of Robin Hood; and the suite concludes with the merry Masquerade (Hornpipe). Sheer magic.

Toscha Seidel was born in Odessa in 1899. He settled in California in the 1930s and made his career in Hollywood. He led the MGM studio orchestra for many years and featured in the soundtrack for the Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard film, Intermezzo. Provost’s Intermezzo (one of those tunes we all know but cannot put a name to) was the film’s title track and it is included in this collection.

Seidel had studied with Max Fiedelmann before joining Leopold Auer’s violin class at the St Petersburg Conservatory. Jascha Heifetz, already in Auer’s class, had been dubbed the "Angel of the violin" but Toscha Seidel was soon to be called "Devil of the Violin" due to his intensely vibrant sound and impassioned style – ideal for the world of film music.

Film music connections are prevalent throughout this collection. Bakaleinikoff’s Brahmsiana concoction was performed in the RKO film Melody for Three. But the other highlight on this disc has to be the sparkling arrangements by Dimitri Tiomkin (with words by Oscar Hammerstein II) of three Strauss Waltzes featured in The Great Waltz, MGM’s 1938 biopic of Johann Strauss Jnr. Here Seidel accompanies the glamorous coloratura soprano, Miliza Korjus.

These recordings vividly capture Seidel’s glorious tone and reveal a mastery of the instrument and sensitive musicality. There are his amazing trills in the Mozart Minuet in D, for instance, and his ravishing reading (with pianist Harry Kaufmann) of Cesar Franck’s Violin Sonata in A. This is a complete performance and it is the most substantial work in this generously filled compilation. It was recorded in the early 1950s for Impressario Records).

Seidel may be little remembered today but in the period before the Second World War he was regarded as one of the most gifted violinists of his day. George Gershwin immortalised him as one of the four brilliant ‘oriental’ fiddlers in the Gershwin song "Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Sascha. "

This is an album to treasure.


Ian Lace


EDITOR’s Recommendation


WOODY ALLEN – standup comic  RHINO R2 75721 [76:03]



This is the album Woody Allen fans have been clambering for! Originally issued on vinyl by Casablanca Records in 1979, Standup Comic is available on CD for the first time.

The 25 tracks here – Allen’s only recordings as a standup comedian are taken from three live performances recorded in 1964, 1965 and 1968. Woody was then honing the persona that would bring him world fame through his films. Standup Comic, like his later films, is frequently autobiographical, touching upon such themes as sexual neuroses, disfunctional families and life in New York that were portrayed so memorably in films like Annie Hall and Manhattan.

A few examples of Woody’s inspired humour:-

"I was breast-fed from falsies – I was scarred emotionally!"

"My Rabbi became a TV personality…he tried to name the Ten Commandments but ended up naming the Seven Dwarfs."

"I cannot tolerate alcohol. Once, after two martinis, I tried to hijack an elevator and fly it to Cuba!"

"My sunlamp rains on me and my clock goes backwards."

"I had a really deep cavity in a tooth – my dentist sent me to a chiropodist!"

"I am always polite and non-combative. A guy hit my fender. I said to him ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ - but not in those words."

On income tax – "I tried to put my analyst down as a business expense but the government said it was entertainment so we compromised on it as a religious contribution."

"My grandfather was very reserved. His hearse followed all the other cars"

"I was kidnapped. When the news reached home, they let my room. The kidnappers told my father they wanted $1,000 in a hole in a tree; the $1000 was OK but he got a hernia carrying the tree."

"I played softball for neurotics – bed-wetters vs naiI-biters"

Much of the material is inspired, particularly the saga of the moose. Woody shoots and thinks he kills it, straps it to his fender and ends up taking it to a fancy dress party where it is miffed when a couple dressed as a moose wins!

I will confess to being an incurable Woody Allen fan, hence the top marks


Ian Lace


André PREVIN A Streetcar Named Desire - An opera based on the play by Tennessee Williams  Renée Fleming; Elizabeth Futral; Rodney Gilfrey; Anthony Dean Giffey San Francisco Opera conducted by André Previn DG 459 366-2 [161:53]



Elia Kazan’ film version of Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire, was made in 1951. It captured Oscars for Vivien Leigh (Blanche) Kim Hunter (Stella) and Karl Malden (Mitch) and Oscar nominations for Tennessee Williams, himself as screenplay writer; director Kazan; and Marlon Brando (Stanley); and, of course, Alex North. Alex North’s ground-breaking, jazz-based score is justly celebrated. Therefore, with André Previn’s considerable experience of film music (he worked on more than 40 films between 1949 and 1973), this recording is of considerable interest to the serious student of film music. Commissioned by and for the San Francisco Opera, this is Previn’s first opera. He has, however, accumulated considerable experience in writing music for the stage. In 1969, he wrote Coco – a musical for Broadway and, in 1974, another musical for the London stage, The Good Companions. He also wrote, in collaboration with Tom Stoppard, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, a work for actors and orchestra that was premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976. [Many film enthusiasts will recall that Claire Bloom made a memorable Blanche on the London stage.]

Previn’s music is essentially more ‘classical’ than the score composed by Alex North but the jazz influences are nonetheless very apparent in creating the necessary atmosphere of hopeless degradation and sleazy madness. Previn says: "Everyone knows that I’ve played a lot of jazz in my lifetime, so people are bound to say that there is a jazz influence in the harmonies or the rhythmic patterns. I like to quote Aaron Copland who replied to questions about jazz in his work by saying, ‘I didn’t grow up in a vacuum.’ I did not set out to write a jazz-influenced score, but I didn’t set out not to do so either." Previn commented that he also decided to stick closely to the speech patterns. Many singers have noted the musicality of Tennessee Williams’s writing.

The opera is, of course, dominated from the start by the character of Blanche DuBois, and Renée Fleming is very compelling. At the start of the opera, she arrives in New Orleans to stay with her younger sister, Stella, who lives in a cramped apartment with her brutal husband Stanley Kowalski (made famous by the moody magnificent Brando). Blanche berates Stella for living in such squalor, graphically portrayed in the orchestra. Later, putting on her airs and graces, Blanche sings of her former genteel existence that has been shattered by impoverishment caused by relations dying and leaving nothing. Previn’s sleazy jazz figures and almost ghoulish accompaniment tells us a different story, however, one of depravity, sex and booze, that becomes only too clear in Act III. As Blanche gazes at herself in the mirror, Previn allows her some sympathy and pathos. When, in Act II, she sings ‘Soft people have got to shimmer and glow’, he protects her with soft-focus music that is almost Delius-like, warm and impressionistic, before a few intrusive concluding bars remind us of Blanche’s self-delusion. Later in the same Act, as Blanche recalls the tragedy of her first love and marriage to a homosexual who later shot himself, the music becomes increasingly hysterical distorted and grotesque. Blanche only feels secure in her dream world as she tells Mitch in her ACT III aria "Real! Who wants real?…I want magic!" As Previn says, "This aria is sultry and torpid and you can feel the heat and humidity, as well as understand Blanche’s desperation and her special grace." In Act III after Stanley has raped her, off-stage, to a most gritty, evocative, three-minute Interlude, Blanche descends into madness. Her final, poignant aria ‘I can smell the sea air’ is very moving, as is her last line as she is led away by the doctor, ‘Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’

Rodney Gilfrey as Stanley cannot displace the Brando image, but that is not to say that Gilfrey fails to convey the complexities of his character: ignorant, insensitive and brutal but also tender and vulnerable. The scene in which he opens Stella’s eyes to Blanche’s delusions as he ransacks Blanache’s trunk is sardonic and vicious enough he makes the Act III denouement with Blanche before he rapes her quite riveting. Anthony Dean Griffey is a sensitive Mitch, mother’s boy and too weak to make a satisfactory saviour for Blanche. His Act II aria, ‘I’m not a boy…’ shows us his humble humanity but also his own romantic self-delusion. Self-delusion is a character trait that is shared by the otherwise sensible Stella, splendidly portrayed by Elizabeth Futral. Stella can forgive the beating that Stanley has inflicted on her and cradle him like a lost child afterwards when he has sobered sufficiently to be remorseful.

’Not a brilliant success, the unrelenting decadent harrowing story and theme tend to grind the production down, but it is certainly a most dramatic and intensely musical experience.


Ian Lace


Jerry GOLDSMITH Patton Frank DeVoL The Flight of the Phoenix Film Score Monthly SILVER AGE CLASSICS FSM Vol 2 No 2 [76:17]

This is another of Film Score Monthly’s invaluable restorations from the Silver Age (the 1960s and 1970s).

There are three recordings of Jerry Goldsmith conducting his Patton score, including his 1997 Varèse Sarabande album; but, for me, this has to be the best; it has bite and immediacy. Unlike the new VS recording, this wonderfully refurbished OST recording (on CD for the first time), features the original echoplex trumpet sessions meticulously overlaid into the brilliant studio performance as heard in the film.

The album contains 15 memorable tracks from the 1970 film – most of them dominated by Goldsmith’s famous echoed trumpet triplet theme. The Main Title music played over an empty battle field introduces this theme with flutes percussion and a sickening-sounding growling figure for brass as we see vultures devouring the bodies of dead soldiers. In cue two, ‘The Battle Ground’, as Patton pauses to reflect on battles over 1,000 years ago (he was intensely religious and believed in reincarnation). We hear eerie glissandi effects with organ underpinings. The material develops into religious music very much in the Gregorian mode. (I immediately associated this music with Respighi; and imagery of not only the church but also Rome and its historic splendours – all very apposite to the screenplay and a tribute to the skills of Goldsmith). This richness and complexity of texture is maintained throughout the score making us see the paradoxes of war, the glory the pity and the horror. The famous Hospital sequence, where Patton abuses a shell-shocked soldier thinking him to be a coward, draws music of such complexity - sympathy mixed with misplaced brutality. Goldsmith’s music carries us forward through Patton’s desert campaign, through to his push towards Berlin. Contrasting the exhilaration of victory, is the more dissonant music of the German successes in their winter offensive. The rousing Patton March that made up the interval music is also included.

Frank DeVol’s score for The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) while not as memorable as Patton, is interesting enough. It is romantic and dramatic and particularly strong on characterisation – very important in a film where clashes of temperament in a hostile environment is a key element in the screenplay. There is poignancy too in a well-judged inclusion of source music – Connie Francis singing Senza Fine which is heard over the radio by the mortally wounded Gabriela and the occupants of the wrecked aircraft that has come down in the Sahara. Another highlight is the tension-filled music DeVol creates for the preparations for flight and the take-off of the Phoenix built from the wreckage of the downed plane.

As usual Jeff Bond contributes full articulate track-by-track notes with observations about the films and the composers. There are also many film stills in the 16 page booklet


Ian Lace


Dominic MULDOWNEY Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)  OST AIRSTRIP ONE AOD 1984 [54:31]


This is an intriguing album. It brings us another score in the annals of those written and never used. The birth and incredible expansion of the CD catalogue has brought us recordings of discarded scores by Schurmann (The Gambler), Walton (Battle of Britain) and many others. Clearly, a deal of pain hides behind the liner notes from producer Michael Radford. The end-result was that much of Muldowney’s score was not used and in its place there were songs by Eurhythmics.

Muldowney is a leading name in the classical music field and may be unfamiliar to followers of film music. He is a British composer born in Southampton in 1952. He was music director for the National theatre and there composed eighty scores. His film music credits include Betrayal (1982) and Ploughman’s Lunch (1983). For TV there are scores for six seasons of the Sharpe series (excellent music), Emma (1997) and King Lear (1998). His concert music includes concertos for violin and saxophone.

The present score was written in 1984. The overblown patriotism is extremely well portrayed by Muldowney. The aria Oceania ’Tis For Thee and Hiking Song (all words are reproduced in the booklet) is a hymn to the state’s glory and victory. Like much else including some grandiloquent marches it is done with conviction but not so much that you lose the message that this music represents an oppressive regime in bloated celebration. I thought a little of Salammbo’s aria (Bernard Herrmann - Citizen Kane) when hearing the Oceania song. Haunting desolation stalks many of the pages of this score although more human and ‘man-sized’ music is evident from the sections where Winston Smith is in the ‘underworld’ inhabited by the proles. In summary then the style is melodic and approachable with a political overlay and … well … if you warm to the occasionally Stalinistic bombast don’t reproach yourself too much. Ultimately the score suggests tired but strangely satisfying resignation; not at all out of keeping with Winston’s state of mind at the end of the book. His world view has changed.

There are excellent notes (English only) spanning 12 pages. Plenty of stills, posters, pre-production drawings and all presented on tastefully done matte paper. Full technical information is given and it is good to see there the name of John Harle (solo saxophone).



Rob Barnett


Craig ARMSTRONG Plunkett & Maclean  OST Virgin 7243 8 47350 29 [50:46]


This is an extraordinary score: a heady mix of choral and orchestral baroque pastiche, heavy rock and synth styles. It begins unusually with the cue Hymn which is self-explanatory and devoted to a cappella choral singing. From heaven we descend to the opposite extreme for the following colourful, kaleidoscopic cue ‘unseen’ full of subterranean growling from synths and cellos and basses, drowning out the choir. At one point in this cue a persistent cantering rhythm from some electronic source seems to suggest a whinnying cantering horse. The orchestral music is mostly led by the lower strings moving forward slowly with a melancholic tread underpinning the choir singing in Requiem Mass mode. Two cues named ‘Ruby’ and ‘Rebecca’ introduce warmer more lyrical and romantic material, the latter with piano. ‘Rochester’ is something of a pastiche of classical Baroque orchestral forms. ‘Robbery’ brings a startling contrast for the instrumentation is Indian and Far Eastern – exotic and eerie with a large array of percussion instruments plonking over creepy strings; it works surprisingly well. The sounds of the Age of Enlightenment soon give way to the head-bashing modern day rock music for ‘Ball’ – too long this track by half. ‘Chance’ brings electronic hokum with synthesised choir sounding distorted and ghostly; I was reminded of the modern choral music Kubrick used for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

‘Business’ is really three variations on baroque rock. In ‘Love declared’ the choir is upbeat and triumphant. The jubilation is continued in ‘hanged’ but the accompaniment is given over to the rock band in ‘escape’. But it is the track ‘resolutions’ which stuns. It is as though the choir has been cast down into some deep pit in which their singing sounds muffled and echoing. Simultaneously one might imagine an iron grid roofing with a metal ball bouncing over it overwhelmed by a morass of eerie evil sounds. The album ends with as song that suggests ghostly unrest over 1,000 years and the final cue ‘childhood’ brings some sort of peace and serenity.

Extraordinary, adventurous and well worth trying – as for repeated listening value, that’s up to the listener but for me it would be somewhat limited.


Ian Lace


David NEWMAN Critters  Conducted by David Newman INTRADA MAF-7044 [47:33]


Essentially over-sized, cackling, drooling, extra-terrestrial hedgehogs with pug faces, the title... umm... critters (called 'Crites' in the film) are positively disgusting enough to warrant a series of films chronicling their destruction. That some may say the film series itself is only slightly less vile is another matter, though I will suggest that should a "Critters 5" ever appear, it absolutely must contain footage of the Crites consuming select rolls of film from earlier instalments.

The original film, like the others, made me wonder whether the composer saw

it as so basic as to be a breeze to score, or so uninspiring as to be difficult... "Critters" features a soundtrack by David Newman (son of Alfred, nephew of Lionel & Emil, brother to Thomas & Maria, and cousin to Randy) that appears to be a compromise; Mr. Newman made the score as serious as the movie would allow.

The soundtrack opens with an electronic soundscape not too dissimilar to the opening of Jerry Goldsmith's "Legend" (which came the year before). This general effect repeats, now with orchestra, throughout virtually the entire score as serial music mixed with a slightly Herrmann-esque motif lays stress on the carnivorous little monsters and their fatal lack of table manners. A basic rising, vaguely heroic motif, sounded most often in the brass, represents the somewhat bumbling bounty hunters from outer-space who seek to destroy the venomous creatures. The location of a mid-western town called Grover's Bend and the presence of a simple, likable farming family inspired Newman to write the lightest idea presented on the soundtrack, a deftly refined theme in Americana style that frames the silly carnage.

A side note: The end credit music by David Newman and John Vigran is but a

small cut above the typical '80s fare, with hokey drum machine and synthesizers blaring. I nevertheless caught myself in the disturbing (to me, anyway) position of enjoying it in spite of myself. Maybe I am slipping.

There is little here that would set the world alight, but although not a film music masterpiece, David Newman's score is okay for a small budget film and, as I discover as I play it again while writing this review, useful as background music. That is part of what it is all about.


Jeffrey Wheeler

Nicholas PIKE Critters 2: The Main Course  Conducted by Nicholas Pike INTRADA MAF-7045 [47:33]


Not quite as cerebral as David Newman's score to the original, but far more entertaining. Whereas Newman opted for a strict approach, Nicholas Pike goes

full out for an easily accessible, jocose, melodic score that is simply and properly enjoyable to listen to. Think of Jerry Goldsmith's scores for Joe Dante's films and you get the idea.

It is almost certainly the best score to a "Critters" movie. It delves neither too far into synthesized effects nor dull, cliché horrors, but accentuates the film's streak of sick humor and wide-eyed worldview. Consider the scoring of an Easter Sunday in which the Crites ferociously encounter a guy in a rabbit costume (track titled 'Bunny Attack'). Yes, folks, the Critters kill the Easter Bunny, and Pike chooses to score the

scene with a bouncy sort of chaos that seems to cluelessly cry, "Oh, how unexpected!" Other action scenes include a variation on the traditional Dies Irae that makes the resemblance to John Williams' "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" less distasteful than divertingly ironic. The Crite theme is evidently a hyperactive parody of Newman's original!

Then there is the new theme for Grover's Bend, a shamelessly Aaron Copland-esque airy melody to inspire visions of trees and crops waving in the wind. The bounty hunters from the first film return with an even more directionally confused theme, conceivably alluding to the bounty hunter with an identity crisis. And the action music is typically direct -- 'Setting the Trap' for example -- but some of the action scoring has that Copland flavor to it, bringing to mind "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo" (particularly the cue 'Night').

The liner notes (by the composer) mention that the score won 'Best Music' at the Spanish festival for 'fantasy cinema.' It sounds as though it probably deserved it. There is little here that would set the world alight, but although not a film music masterpiece, Nicholas Pike's score is atypically fantastic for a small budget film...


Jeffrey Wheeler.

Ray COLCORD Paper Brigade  OST CITADEL STC 77122 [47:20]



There is so much enthusiastic energy in this musical three quarters of an hour, that there’s no mistaking it for a happy-go-lucky kids movie. "Into the Trap" opens the disc and puts an educated listener in a quandary as to whether John Williams or Elmer Bernstein is the intended referential style. You know you’re in safe territory assuming quotes and homages are intended since there are so many incorporated source themes later on (count them off in "Final Battle"). If you’re familiar with Robert Folk’s Toy Soldiers, that ought to put you in mind of the universe this film and score occupies.

Snare drums constantly inform of the pseudo-militaristic aspect of the boys’ grouping and adventures. "Operation H.A.D." starts on fluttering flutes, but soon bursts into the enjoyable dramatic edge perpetuated throughout most tracks. Concord hasn’t been afraid to embellish the orchestra either. There are lots of subtle electronic touches (a tinkling sound featuring on many cues), as well as funky riffs from acoustic and electric guitar (both "The Rookie" and "Ping Pong and Walkies" are very groovy !).

Another easy way to describe the picture painted by the music is of the classic cartoon. You can ‘see’ that the music is following very specifically timed comedic action. That said, there are thankfully some unexpected interludes. "First Morning" is almost funereal in being sombre with an effective time-marking metallic clang, before shocking with a Psycho shower murder pastiche.

It’s just an enormous amount of fun that gets a hearty recommendation.


Paul Tonks


Christopher YOUNG Urban Legend  Promo CD96008 [45:13]

I have to confess to not ‘getting’ the adulation for this score - although I like it very much. My problem is that the pop-culture teen slasher creation / revival seems to demand a clone score to match each new clone entry. After the Scream movies, the Last Summer movies, and H20, there is quite obviously a sound studios want emulated - Marco Beltrami’s. Right from the start that’s pretty much what I hear in Urban Legend. The familiar strains of Beltrami’s other scores (including Mimic) are spot on for the movie of course. Yet if you’re at all familiar with the music from those others it’s a huge distraction. H20 suffered from this enormously on screen. Studios just don’t seem to have realised.

This promo disc shows the score to have legs beyond its limited screen pairing. Its real highlight being the lullaby performed by a breathy sighing female chorus in the initial cue and "The Lucky One". Here there’s more of the Young of horror days gone by. As soon as cue 2 ("Sexual Ax") explodes though, it’s an all-too familiar ride.

I really want to say this is a great score in isolation. From Young it’s an extended voice that is of interest in itself. As someone closely appreciative of its predecessors however, I’m just reserved for the sake of saving others from the pangs of deja vu.


Paul Tonks



John OTTMAN Apt Pupil  RCA Victor 09026-63319-2 [45:20]



Surprise extras are always a treat. Your first is the brief but neat "Phoenix Pictures Presents" logo jingle. Then in closing you get Liane & The Boheme Bar Trio crooning the highly appropriate "Das Ist Berlin". In-between comes a score recorded in October of ‘97, and which has sat awaiting distribution interminably since then. Thank goodness the wait is over.

Apt Pupil is the second big screen between Ottman (as composer and editor) for director Bryan Singer. Their other was the masterful The Usual Suspects. Everyone on the planet will be making that same connection in any analysis, but what occurred to me was how musically the opening of both films share some commonality as well. Cyclic harp motif, and then a string bridge into a very lush wash of sound. A solo violin plays with piano. Am I making this up ? Suspects’ title theme is almost concert piece in its development however, so there the similarities (if any) end. Pupil follows a small wild ride from the lush beginnings into dangerous undertones that speak of the McKellan character’s Nazi background.

The body of the score is largely divisible into two distinct styles. The first and more accessible stems from the innocent theme introduced in the "Main Titles". It often begins by violin solo before moving into full orchestral splendour ("I want to hear about it"). Style Number Two would be the crashing walls of sound effects generated by innovative use of the orchestra. "The Chamber" stabs with some enormous hits of atonality and dissonance. Here we are simply following the trademark shocks of author Stephen King which always translate into gory spectacle on film. Since this was penned under his Richard Bachman pseudonym, it is actually a little more of a cerebral affair than his other popcorn reads. Singer optioned the script looking to get into the morality clashes brought up by a teen fascinated with war atrocities. So the echoing bombast in many of these cues is not merely ‘hitting’ shots of the ‘sudden corpse’ tradition. There is an entire subtext of sanity and psychological horror that it represents.

Be prepared for one seemingly out-of-place surprise. "Cat Bake" features the almost Carry On movie school of comical scoring with an extract from a Larry Groupe piece - "Cat Dance". Without spoiling the effect too much, if you consider this cue’s title and thereby ascertain what’ happening on screen you can see that every attempt is made to curtail musical expectations here. That is the score’s success story. The album might leave you a little cold if you don’t have the film in mind to recall. For the first grouped style of innocence it is definitely worth any secondary chill however.


Paul Tonks


Mark ISHAM At First Sight OST  MILAN 65510-2 [49:34]



At First Sight is about a man regaining the sight he lost as a child, but more it is about redefining relationships and coming to terms with a real rather than an imagined world. Mark Isham responds with a sensitive score in his well-practised manner. It is all very charming but Isham has presented us with this kind of material before. The trembling, glistening, rustling figures, the slow measured piano passages, the moods sentimental, nostalgic cosy, caring and compassionate. It is all warmly presented and no doubt it works well for the film but this score tends to wash over one as though its some innocuous easy listening album. Nothing seems to stick; there is no outstanding theme; no big melody. In fact, it is not until we get to tracks 9 and 10 (‘Our Eyes Aren’t What Make Us See’ and ‘Love is Where You Are’) do we meet anything like a melody. One feels that there is a lovely tune about to burst through the texture but instead all we get are tired components and a routine tune. If I appear harsh in my judgement of this score it is because I admire the work of Mark Isham and I hoped for better. The slow-moving music is relieved by two tracks ‘To Share A Feeling’ and ‘A Seeing Journey’ which seem to suggest The Val Kilmer’s childish wonder at being able to see so many wonders. The album also includes songs by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and George Shearing.


Ian Lace





I got the impression that George Fenton really loved working on this score a lot of enthusiasm and sincerity shines through. It sparkles; it bounces and it’s high-spirited and good-humoured. I am sure this music helps to make the slight tale (again from Nora (Sleepless in Seattle) Ephron) seem more credible than it really is; it’s about the romantic misunderstandings involving two e-mail correspondents, based on the 1940 James Stewart/Margaret Sullivan classic The Shop Around the Corner).

Most of the music is essentially trad jazz-based with a honky-tonk piano and banjo. A tuba and a rasping muted trumpet seem to be often bickering through the score. It’s rather like the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (I will admit that she is my favourite film star and can do no wrong – well very little wrong!) characters in the film, i.e.- when they are not meeting via their computers. There are some nostalgic touches, plenty of perky-quirky comic capers (one cue is roughly a cross between Elfman’s Pee Wee and Rota’s music for Fellini’s films) and a bit of Latin (complete with castanets). There is also some lovely heart-catching romantic material, a lovely melody meltingly orchestrated.

I enjoyed this album very much – goofy but glorious.


Ian Lace


George FENTON Shanghai Vice Debonair CDDEB 1009 [36:12]




This is a ‘sister’ TV show to the hit that was Beyond The Clouds. A fact capitalised upon by the inclusion of that theme on disc as well as largely advertising it on the cover. That really leaves you with determining whether or not you liked the theme, because Fenton has basically expanded upon the material and style for all that is included.

There has always been something about the ‘Hollywood-isation’ of Chinese music that makes me feel like I’m swimming underwater. The whole of this disc carries that graceful sense of floating and leaves you feeling quite serene and tranquil from its cooling effects. The featured soloist putting the calming spell upon you is Guo Yue, playing Bao-Yo and Chinese flutes.

It is a rather all-too-quick experience, but perhaps further exposure to such dreaminess might induce sleep itself.


Paul Tonks


Carter BURWELL The Corruptor OST  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6014 [42:17]




 The genre of films that concentrate on the spectacle of blood, broken bones and bruises is represented by Corruptor. This film is a violent gutsy police drama set in New York City's Chinatown, It has several more rounded characters than you would normally expect in a film of this type with Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat's Chinatown cop and Mark Wahlberg's trainee as the pivotal players. It achieves a visual quality of merit within the Chinatown locations and director James Foley combines the colour of the locations with an equally colourful expression of the story line.

Although we have seen the buddy film in many guises now ad nauseum this film talks about the changing loyalties amongst the villains and police alike and some interesting comparisons can be drawn from the behaviours of the law enforcers and the criminals.

The composer of the music for the soundtrack of the film is CARTER BURWELL . He counts "ROB ROY" as his third collaboration with Michael Caton-Jones, having previously scored "This Boy's Life" and "Doc Hollywood." He has also composed, arranged and produced the scores for a number of diverse projects, including the award-winning HBO telefilm "And the Band Played On," and the features "It Could Happen to You," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "A Dangerous Woman," "Kalifornia," "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer," "Storyville," "Barton Fink," "Raising Arizona," "Psycho III" and "Blood Simple."

In addition to his screen work, Burwell has written and performed music for several New York stage productions, including "Mother," "The Celestial Alphabet Event" and "Mother Courage." He also wrote and performed the music for "Widows" at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The music on the Corruptor CD has many oriental influences and captures effectively the changing pace and mood of the Film.

The CD opens with The Corruptor theme , this is a haunting melody using cadence to open the listener to the expectation of what is to come. Within the textures created by Burwell are distinctive, almost Celtic anthems hinting at great age and history. The use of indian tabla against breathy and strung instruments is effective and unusual. Beneath The streets repeats the thematic haunting melody of earlier with chinese percussion counterpointing cellos and the building of tension. Release comes through the explosion of sound in a chinese festival. Lamp Store Shootout again has the same build of tension with closed cymbals, chinese orchestra and deep bass leading us into a soft descending ending. Panty Raid brings some nicely articulated string parts reminiscent of a zither with note bending. The central instrument complemented with breathy flute sounds drops into Ginza shooting, where Burwell interweaves the preceding themes across a more indirect cross rhythm. The Old Man is my personal favourite on the CD, although only 1:02 in length there's such an intensity of feeling in the first few strummed chords that it grabs and retains my attention. Drug Raid, Death Drives Through Chinatown, He takes The Hook, A Plum, Chen Betrayed, To The Ship, Human Cargo, Chen Shot, Funeral in Chinatown, Old Happy and Corruptoid finish the track listing.

I enjoyed listening to this soundtrack and what I like particularly is the inventive way the main theme is put into variation throughout the piece. Burwell has incorporated some good guitar chops too, although I don't know who is playing them. They remind me a bit of Joe Satriani's playing in between his good bits! The overall sound and production of the work and the mix of oriental percussion, strings and breath instruments is effective and interesting to listen to.

Sit down with your beer and some prawn crackers and enjoy Carter Burwell's sweet and sour interpretation of the film. This is one to take away.


Warwick Mason

Stephen ENDELMAN Jawbreaker OST  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6013 [30:07]



 Darren Stein's comedy is about American prom queen society and is a sour reflection on what can go wrong with a practical joke. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Liz is kidnapped by her three friends (with friends like this who needs enemas) who plan to torture the birthday girl with a breakfast of pancakes. They tie her up and throw her in the trunk of a car. In the process Liz has been gagged - literally, with a Jawbreaker and duct tape. When the girls open the trunk, they find Liz dead. The character Zach (Ethan Embrey) is Reagan High School's most prominent actor, so he's called a "fag" by the "in crowd." Speaking of Reagan, did they ever find his brain? Zach becomes a catalyst for change when he falls for Julie (recently ostracised from the Flawless Four), because she threatens to tell the authorities the truth behind the death of Liz.

I have to admit to a yawning disinterest in the content of U.S.A. prom films, if they all vanished without trace the world would be a better place.

Scores are eventually settled, but not at the police department or even in the principal's office. The world of Jawbreaker begins and ends at school, and the prom is such a handy device for exacting revenge (yawn, yawn, oh my, I didn't see that one coming…..).

The soundtrack for the film is a brave attempt by Stephen Endelman to capture the girly, sassy atmosphere required and I suppose as a composer, he has achieved the objectives commissioned for the film.

For me the mixture of sugary, tinkly musical allegories with the pop beat of MTV culture and some nods at Hitchcock and Twilight Zone-type motifs made my teeth itch.

The vocals of "ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah….ahhhh" on the notes A,B,A,B,A,B and G sharp are "featured" in several tracks and I now have those notes blocked out on my guitar so I never, never, never, ever hear them ever again. This is not bothering me at all, I can review objectively, honest. Look out! Here's a two-note piano "scary bit" (goodness somebody's gonna get squished) that has me so scared I nearly blinked.

HOWEVER! Come on, wake up, pay attention! I did like the version of "Young at Heart" with a slow rap drum part, strummed guitar and flute. It was an entirely inappropriate arrangement of course but it is quirky and "different". Connie Petruk's vocal is cutesy in a subtly malevolent sort of way and she carried the tune with a softness and innocence that is engaging.

Overall as a soundtrack it gets the job done but I would have preferred to listen to it with tape over my ears….(now that sounds like an idea for a movie…).


Warwick Mason

Richard HARTLEY Alice in WonderlandOST  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6021 [71:07]



I have been rather out of touch with TV recently so am not sure if this has been shown on British TV yet. From the sketchy information it seems probable that this is a loose adaptation of the much-loved book. (Much-loved … yes … but I wonder how many people have read it?)

Anyway, to help identify the production, this one features the usual star-bolstered cast including Whoopi Goldberg as ‘Cheshire Cat-Face’, Tina Majorino as Alice, Miranda Richardson as Queen of Hearts, Gene Wilder as Mock Turtle, Heathcote Williams as Mr Eaglet, Ken Dodd as ‘Mr Mouse’, Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum and George Wendt as Tweedledee.

The music, of which there is oodles (to use a technical phrases meaning lots), is magical and very strong. Inevitably this orchestral score is eclectic, drawing on many sources and styles though not so many that it loses consistency. Malcolm Arnold’s woodwind writing, especially for the oboe, is an obvious influence (note Arnold’s lively and poetic Oboe Concerto), the fey Celtic ‘oirishry’ of the Titanic score is noticeable, Danny Elfman’s romantically snowflake-swathed Edward Scissorhands is also a benevolent presence as is a dreamy impressionism (straight out of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro) so suited to the subject. Track 31 Into the Book has the galloping drama of the music for The Magnificent Seven and is a surprising but also commanding moment.

The songs (of which there are ten among forty tracks) are charmingly sung by Tina Majorino, Gene Wilder (Mock Turtle), Martin Short (Hatter), Ken Dodd (Mr Mouse!) and Elizabeth Spriggs (not Springs as quoted in the liner note!) as the Duchess.

This is a very strong score orchestrated with taste and recorded with lucidity. Altogether this is an atmospheric score well able to hold its head high in the company of scores for the big screen. I hope that the Hollywood moguls are aware of Hartley. For now snap up this superb release from Varese-Sarabande. Do not let the fact that this was written for TV put you off.


Rob Barnett

John DEBNEY My Favourite Martian Music conducted by the composer    (contact: Kraft/Benjamin/Engel Management (310) 247-0123)

This is an entertaining, generously-filled album: 35 brief tracks of very varied music. It embraces cool and slinky jazz numbers, bongos-led Latin music (including a Martian Mambo), ravishingly romantic melodies, scampering comic capers, fast-paced chase music, dark dramatic material and sci-fi Star Wars fantasy adventure stuff . Influences range from Dukas to Rimsky Korsakov; from John Williams to Danny Elfman (with the Edward Scissorhands-type choral treatments and the general quirkiness) – as well as from many other leading film composers. There is even a direct quote from the opening of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra for a cue entitled ‘Toilet Trouble’ – the mind boggles. The sound is stunning.

Once again the documentation is woefully inadequate – not even a booklet; just a single sheet with endless credits to obscure production people. Now I appreciate that this is probably a promotion album intended to focus attention on Mr Debney’s talents and to promote more contracts for him but I will once again make this point of principal - when will the record companies create booklets that cater for the public instead of indulging in this sort of endless navel-gazing?!?

Enquiries about this album should be directed as indicated in the header.


Ian Lace

John OTTMAN Cable Guy. Fantasy Island OSTs  JOCD –01 [51:00]


Quoting John Ottman, himself, writing about his music for Fantasy Island, in the CD booklet notes – ‘I was feeling dreary after writing scores to one intense and dark film after the next, so when this show came along, it was one of those battery-charging experiences. I actually looked forward when getting out of bed towrite for Mr Rourke and his questionable world.’ Well Ottman’s release certainly shows for this is a very enjoyable twenty-minutes or so suite with a very catchy theme. The music evokes a tropical island paradise with exotic orchestrations. The material may often be whacky, or spooky and eerie but it is all written with a light touch with none of the threats associated with the more serious action/dramatic movies – there’s hardly a cloud around. There are: waltz figures, chase motifs, fairground-like passages, music that suggests scampering among the tree canopies; and there is slow meditative stuff too.

Ottman’s score for Cable Guy is, to some extent, very similar for what is really a black comedy. In this instance, however, it does not have such a memorable theme. The music is often manic paralleling the eccentricities of Carrey. The whackiness is very reminiscent of Elfman particularly when one considers the sentimental and saccharine children’s chants (very similar to those in Edward Scissorhands except that in Cable Guy they are used as a reminder of the Carrey character’s disturbed childhood). There are plenty of demonic slitherings but they are created with tongue in cheek. A few cues impress: ‘Turn of Events’ seems to suggest mechanical clockwork toys gone amuck; ‘Spiders and threats’ is – very spidery; ‘Moving on’ impresses it’s a racy, jazz-orientated track, and some respite is allowed with the warmer nostalgic material that is ‘Memories’.

A pleasant undemanding album.


Ian Lace

Fantasy Island

Cable Guy

Angelo BADALAMENTI Arlington Road (with additional music by Tomanandy) OSTs  Milan 74321 65152-2 [67:54]




WARNING - it may seem like this album will never end ! Let me be upfront and say that I had a lot of problems with this score in the movie. Several times it actively worked against the picture. The reason for this is actually rather shocking. I have recently learned that studios are now so into the idea of the youth market that if they think a score might not appeal, they’ll employ a popular DJ to work on top of the score with samples and rhythms. Arlington Road bears the frightening credit: "Additional Music by Tomandandy, using the Evolution System".

Milan’s typically sparse packaging gives no indication where they end and Badalmenti begins. It is rather easy to make educated guesses however. All the orchestral and vaguely melodic work will be the composers and that constant crashing, drowning cacophony all around it must be the techno boys’ work.

I have no intention of pointing out cues since any microscopic moments of interest last all-too briefly to be of any significance (OK - so the last 2 cues are reasonable). I suspect there was once a well-thought out score up against the film - Badalamenti usually delivers something of worth.

Now I’ll be lambasted by someone who writes to tell me this was actually a well-crafted collaboration between them!


Paul Tonks

Ian Lace adds:-

I entirely agree – need I say more.

Visitors will note a new symbol which is occasionally attached to our reviews. 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.

James HORNER – Mighty Joe Young OSTs edel/Hollywood 0100902HWR [73:06]

Yes, we have reviewed this CD before – in our January 1999 reviews collection. So why are we mentioning it again now – well because it appeared on another label at that time – Hollywood HR-62172-2. Fortunately, the CD cover artwork is the same for both editions.

At that time I rated it and commented –

‘This album does little to dispel the disappointment of Horner’s bland score for Deep Impact..the biggest disappointment is the lack of a really memorable theme…On the credit side it is often very thrilling and sometimes quite overwhelmingly scary…Horner’s richly textured score, written for a large orchestra includes a vast array of drums ethnic and conventional – spread right across the sound stage to wonderful effect …to evoke the sounds of the jungle.

Ian Lace

Terence BLANCHARD – JAZZ in FILM OSTs SONY SK 60671 [68.19]



Having been so successful with his film score for Clockers, it seemed like a good idea to have Terry Blanchard produce his interpretation of the music written by people like Duke Ellington, Elmer Bernstein and Andre Previn for other films. Whoever's idea this was, it was a stroke of pure genius. This is one of the most interesting additions to the Jazz Library in years and establishes Terry Blanchard right up there with those legendary composers and arrangers mentioned earlier. This is an album that could only have been made by someone from the jazz fraternity, who could get the mixture right, the right musicians, with a top class score, but with space for individual expression.

All the arrangements are by Terry Blanchard, a monumental piece of work! Blanchard was born in New Orleans in 1962 and came to prominence with Art Blackey's Jazz Messengers in 1982. His partner in the front line of that Band was another young musician from New Orleans, Donald Harrison whose top class Alto playing blends so well with the leaders Trumpet. The experience of touring with a Band like the Jazz Messengers always has a great influence for good on young musicians. Tenor Saxophone player Joe Henderson is well known to most jazz fans, he has led his own Quartet for many years after working with Horace Silver,Herbie Hancock and for a time with Blood Sweat and Tears. He is one of the most influential and gifted of modern jazz saxophone players. Trombone player Steve Turre is another top rate musician who has already recorded several albums under his own name.

The late Kenny Kirkland on piano is a real inspiration, in his sleeve note Terry Blanchard said he waited to record the album, until Kenny was available it is easy to see why. the Bass playing of Reginald Veal and the Drumming of Carl Allen are totally sympathetic to the needs of the front line, how I wish it was always thus!

In an Album of this type there are usually some tracks that you like better than others, in my case I just thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and I am left hoping that there will be a follow up very soon.

This is a five star album, of that I have no doubt! If I was on Desert Island Disks it would be one of my choices.


Don Mather

1. A Streetcar Named Desire
2. Chinatown
3. The Subterraneans
4. Anatomy of a Murder
5. The Pawnbroker
6. Taxi Driver
7. Degas' Racing World
8. Man with the Golden Arm
9. Clockers

John BARRY - Playing by Heart Chet Baker, John Barry and Chris Botti  DECCA 466 275-2 [57:20]



Remembering Chet; Playing By Heart; Game of Hide and Seek; Tenderly; I Didn’t Love You Less; A Place Inside Alive and Well & First Take; Scene Unseen; You Go to My Head; I Want to Stay the Night; Good Night Moon; Mark’s Graveyard Site; Thees Foolish Things; Playing By Heart


This is film music of the finest quality, you can almost feel how it will be used in the film, but it stands alone as an excellent piece of musical composition and performance.

Willard Carroll the writer and director of the film ‘Play by heart’ felt that a number of the classic recordings by Chet Baker, a West Coast jazz legend of the 1950’s, was the kind of music the film would need. John Barry was chosen to write the score, John is a Trumpet player anyway and by coincidence an admirer of Chet Baker.

Baker was a man who had everything and lost everything. He was very handsome as a young man and he played the Trumpet with a unique and immediately identifiable style.

In 1952 he joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, a group which was to become one of the all time jazz greats and within six months jazz fans world wide were aware of Chet Baker!

In 1954 he formed his own Quartet with influential pianist Russ Freeman and continued to be in world wide demand. He lost everything and probably his life as well, due to his drug addiction, he was beaten up by hoodlums in San Francisco and lost all his teeth in 1968. He recovered however and continued to play beautifully. His death, which may have been narcotics related, was from falling from a hotel window in 1988 when he was 59. There was always a sadness in his playing, even songs with happy lyrics sounded like sad songs when played or sung by Chet Baker.

The Trumpet playing on the CD is by Chris Botti whose work has been mostly heard backing rock artists such as Bryan Ferry, Jane Silberry and Sting. He studied at the prestigious Indiana University with David Baker and later in New York with Saxophonist George Coleman and the late Trumpet player Woody Shaw. Chris catches the Chet Baker mood perfectly, but there is much more to this man than a mere imitator, he is a very fine musician in his own right and I intend to look out for his name on future jazz releases. I rate him very highly indeed.

John Barry’s score is evocative and having read the plot it is easy to see how he has caught the mood of the film so well. In the UK, John is best known for his band the John Barry Seven, he played the Trumpet in several Big Bands however before forming his own outfit.

Film music however has always been his first love and he studied with teachers as diverse as Dr. Francis Jackson from York Minster and Bill Russo from the Stan Kenton orchestra.

You don’t have to be a jazz buff to like this record, if you are there is a bonus for you, but even if the jazz talents of Chet Baker and Chris Botti are not your bag, this is wonderful mood music. There is a flavour of bitter-sweet sadness which pervades throughout, but this music is not depressing; it is just the kind of thing that helps when the world does not go exactly the way you would like it to......................BUY IT!


Don Mather


Neil SIMON, Carolyn LEIGH and Cy COLEMAN Little Me New Broadway Cast Recording  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6011 [59:07]



Let’s be clear: There are Hollywood musicals which are worth everyone’s attention. Stephen Sondheim’s musicals/operas are musically and intellectually satisfying and truly moving. There are predecessors of similar standing but no-one so consistently packs Sondheim’s punch.

The present musical is not in the Sondheim league. While pleasant and with the occasional hit (e.g. Real Live Girl) this is a slice of Broadway eclair: fluffy but with little nutrition. The brightly inconsequential Broadway-medley overture says it all: brash and superficial. The notes refer to the clever rhymes and with that I would agree. The dominating central role of Belle Poitrine (with frontage to match!) is superbly sung by Faith Prince but she is wasted on the musical material which is suffocatingly conventional. This does not detract from Faith Prince’s (and, Martin Short’s) performance and I was impressed with tastily turned avoidance of cliché-ed word patterns.

Full notes (English only) with the plot given in all its resplendently convoluted detail. No lyrics. The notes claim that this recording was made in February 1999 and I am reviewing this on 30 March 1999. Did they mean 1998?


Rob Barnett


Editor’s Recommendation



George and Ira GERSHWIN Oh, Kay! Broadway Cast recording with Barbara Ruick; Jack Cassidy; Allen Case and Roger White   SONY SK 60703 [52:12]



The LP version of this album has long been a treasure in my collection. With fine refurbished sound and now with bonus tracks and with great informative booklet notes by Gershwin expert, Edward Jablonski plus Broadway cast illustrations, it is an essential part of my Gershwin CD shelf. Although no film (as far as I can discern) was ever made of Oh Kay, the songs featured in the show were used in may others (‘Clap Yo’ Hands’, for instance, was used in that wonderful Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn Gershwin musical, Funny Face). Barbara Ruick will be remembered for her role as Shirley Jones’s friend who serenaded Mr Snow (‘When I Marry Mr Snow’) in Carousel. Here she distinguishes herself with her expressive romantic and ironic-comic singing.

Oh, Kay! opened on November 8th 1926 and ran for more than 250 performances (excellent for those days and the longest run for a Gershwin musical up to that date. Wonderful, classic Gershwin hit tunes follow each other in profusion: ‘Don’t Ask’; the witty and ironic‘Dear Little Girl’ in which the hero salutes not one but all his dear little girls; ‘Maybe’; ‘Clap Yo’ Hands’; ‘Do, Do Do’; ‘Fidgety Feet’ and, of course ‘Somebody to Watch Over Me’

For Gershwin enthusiasts this album is a must, must, must!


Ian Lace


Editor’s Recommendation


Stephen SONDHEIM A Little Night Music Original Broadway Cast Recording   SONY SK 65284 [68:28]



The 1977 film version of Stephen Sondheim’s fabulous Broadway musical was a somewhat fumbled affair. It starred Elizabeth Taylor as Désirée and Diana Rigg with members of the original Broadway production including Hermione Gingold. One of the numbers of the film, a reworked (by Sondheim) ‘The Glamorous Life’, is included as a bonus track at the end of this album.

Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is more than just a musical it has stature and can compare with the best of operetta. This original Broadway Cast Recording consists of 16 numbers each one a perfect gem – a perfect fusion of bitter-sweet, ironic music and words. A Little Night Music is based on the Ingmar Bergman film, Smiles of a Summer Night. It is set in turn-of-the-century Sweden and it is a light confection of complicated romantic liaisons. Briefly, middle aged lawyer, Frederik has married a girl (Anne) his son’s age. She is still a virgin after 11 months of marriage. Frederik’s son, Henrik, lusts after Anne. Frederik has sentimental feelings towards his old flame Désirée who still lusts after Frederik. Désirée is lusted after by Count Carl-Magnus who has to cope with his long-suffering wife, Charlotte. Observing this tangle is Désirée’s elderly mother-with-a-past, Madame Armfeldt. It is she who alerts her granddaughter - and us - to watch for the summer night to smile: "It smiles three times – first, for the young, who know nothing; second, for the fools who know too little; and, third, for the old, who know too much."

A Little Night Music is clever and sophisticated; and innovative. It sparkles. The music is very much based on the waltz - appropriate to its fin de siecle setting. The Overture (and Night waltz) begins in a novel fashion with a quintet of principals singing la-la-la before the music breaks into the engaging Viennese Waltz that has that certain Ravelian touches that vaguely disturbs. Then another interesting number follows - the 10½ minute, ‘Now… Later… Soon’ in which Frederik, Henrik and Anne all state their own agendas: Frederik (Now) muses on the problems caused by his new marriage; Henrik is concerned with flirting with the maid and moaning about being perpetually frustrated in love (Later); while Anne promises Frederik she will allow him to consumate their marriage (Soon). All the themes are cleverly dovetailed, and progressed against their varied conflicting interests, as the number proceeds.

Of the other numbers I must mention two or three. Frederik who has just met Désirée again after a long interval, tells her ‘You Must Meet My Wife’. The verbal sparring between the two is delicious; here’s a sample: ‘She flutters’ – ‘how charming.’ ‘She twitters’ – ‘my word.’ ‘She floats’ – ‘isn’t that alarming; what is she – a bird?’ ‘She makes me feel...’ ‘Like an old man? ‘Yes – NO!’ ‘No?!? - I must meet your Gertrude; Sorry your Anne.’ ‘The point is that she’s really simple.’ Yes, that much is clear.’… Then there is the inimitable Hermione Gingold recollecting her ‘Liaisons’ as she sings ‘Liaisons what’s happened to them?…What was rare champagne is now just an amiable hock. What once was a villa, at least, is now digs. What was a gown with a train is now just a simple frock. … At the Duke of Ferrara’s castle I acquired some position and a tiny Titian…’

Then of course there is Désirée’s famous number ‘Bring on the Clowns’ which Glynis Johns sings with such pathos when she thinks that Frederik will not abandon his child wife for her. It is reprised when he does just that and they both realise they have both been clowns. All, of course, ends happily with the lovers paired off satisfactorily.

A hugely delightful album that will make repeated visits to my CD player.


Ian Lace

The SONDHEIM Collection VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6012 [71:36]



Glynis Johns sings ‘Send in the Clowns’ (A Little Night Music); Jane Krakowski sings ‘Sooner or Later’ (Dick Tracy); Jennifer Simard sings ‘More’ (Dick Tracy); Guy Haines – ‘What Can You Loose?’ (Dick Tracy); Judy Cuhn - ‘You’ll Never Get Away From Me’ (Gypsy); Lindsay Ridgeway and Sarah Chapman - ‘Mama’s Talking Soft’ (cut from Gypsy); Liz Calloway – ‘I Remember’ (Evening Primrose); Laurie Beechman – ‘No One is Alone’ (Into the Woods); Petula Clark – ‘Children Will Listen’ (Into the Woods); Amy Rider, Malcolm Gets, and Adam Heller – ‘Old Friends – Part II ( Merrily We Roll Along); The Trotter Trio – ‘Opening’ (Follies); Harry Groener and Lynnette Perry – That Old Piano Roll’ (cut from Follies); David, Patrick and Shaun Cassidy – ‘You Could Drive A Person Crazy’ (Company); Christiane Noll – ‘Marry Me A Little’ (Company); Michelle Nicastro – ‘Loving You’ (Passion); Kaye Ballard, and Sally Mayes – ‘There’s Always A Woman’ (Anyone Can Whistle); The Trotter Trio – By The Sea’ (Sweeney Todd); Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley – ‘Every Day A Little Death’ (A Little Night Music); Liz Calloway – ‘Goodbye for Now’ (Reds).

A glance at the line-up above shows the riches of this album. Glynis Johns makes a fine, poignant Désirée summoning the clowns from A Little Night Music, Jane Krakowski (Ally McBeal’s snoopy secretary, Elaine) sings huskily and sexily ‘Sooner or Later’…you’re going to be mine…sooner or later I always get my man’ from Dick Tracy. Petula Clark charms as she sings so expressively – ‘Children Will Listen’. The latter song reminds one of what the booklet notes express so eloquently, ‘…And those words! In the history of musical theatre there has been no finer lyricist. And, to quote again: ‘His melodies are always perfect for his words, whether beautiful and soaring, or tart and searing.'

Of the 19 songs, I would just mention two or three. There is Lindsay Ridgeway and Sarah Chapman singing the little girls’ cautionary ‘Mama’s talking soft’ in which they declare: "Mama’s seen a man, mama’s blushing pink, mussin’ up her hair, mama has a smile and when she has a smile, no one has a prayer!" There are two great swinging jazz instrumental numbers from The Trotter Trio; and there is a a hilarious, blistering, bitchy number from Kaye Ballard and Sally Mayes who rue that ‘There is Always A Woman’ in which they complain, ‘It’s always a woman who causes confusion… we must lunch; there’s always a woman, the ant at the picnic, the fly in the ointment … ring me soon." Finally there is the dreamily romantic, ‘What can you loose’, again from Dick Tracy sung with great panache by Guy Haines.

A splendid entertainment.


Ian Lace

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Tango Ballet; Concierto Del Angel; Tres Piezas Para Orquesta De Camara. Gidon Kremer (violin) with Per Arne Glorvigen (bandoneon); Alois Posch (double bass); Vadim Sakharov (piano); Marta Sudraba (cello) and Ula Zebriunaite (viola); and Kremer ATA Baltica  TELDEC 3984-22661-2 [53:52]


Astor Piazzolla studied with Alberto Ginastera and, in Paris, with Nadia Boulanger. It was she who persuaded him to devote himself to the tango rather than to classical music. Piazzolla interpreted the popular music of Argentina as Bartók, Stravinsky and Gershwin did the music of their countries. And the tango is Argentina! Piazzolla took the tango and produced classical music. Hearing the jazz musicians in Paris and being impressed with their swing and wealth of ideas, he decided to free the tango from its traditional patterns to give it more nuances and make it more complex.

In 1956 Piazzolla wrote Tango Ballet for a short film. His music was welcomed but not the film. It is a difficult work. It made big demands on the octet’s musicians at the time, so much so that it was not performed again until 1989. In Tango Ballet classical music, tango and ballet all merge into a composition of unique originality. In this transcription, Gidon Kremer is featured together with his chamber ensemble Kremer ATA Baltica which consists of young musicians from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Kremer grasps the opportunity to show off his impressive virtuosity without compromising the essential spirit of the composition. There are six movements: Introduction – La Calle (The Street); Encuentro (Meeting); Cabaret; Soledad (Solitude) and Calle final. Cabaret – pure tango, has a particularly catchy tune; the mood of Soledad is, in contrast, darker and tinged with melancholy. Encuentro – Olvido has an engaging sexy sultriness, with a sense of mystery and danger.

In 1958, Piazzolla was inspired by the cool jazz of New York and he assembled his first quintet with an instrumentation of bandoneon, piano, double bass, electric guitar and vibraphone. Later, the vibraphone was replaced by a violin. Piazzolla was concerned to create tango music that would give voice to the concerns of the modern city of Buenos Aires since the city had a new rhythm and had become cosmopolitan. He brought the tango to a new audience: students, young workers, avant-garde artists, jazz and Bossa Nova fans. Among the numerous works of his fruitful 1960s was the ‘Angel’ series that revolved around the subject of an angel. Four of these are included in Concierto Del Angel for violin, bandoneon, double bass, piano and string orchestra. They are: Introducción al Angel; Milonga del Angel; La muerte del Angel and Resurrección del Angel. The music attracted great attention for it sounded new, unusual, evocative and sensitive. Introducción al Angel describes the mysterious path of the angel who appears in a block of flats in Buenos Aires in order to cleanse the souls of the inhabitants in music that is quietly mystical but also intensely passionate. La muerte del Angel begins with a three-part tango-fugue followed by a passage which depicts the desperate struggle between the villain and the angel whom he kills – the music here is again passionate with a strong melodic line. Milonga del Angel is more slow and sentimental while Resurrección is proud and haughty and rather Ravelian in character. Kremer and his players play with real power and conviction.

Finally, for piano and string orchestra, there is the three-movement Tres Piezas Para Orquesta De Camara. Preludio: Lento is an atmospheric piece that opens dramatically and menacingly before its brooding melts into a lovely romantic melody. Fuga:Allegro, one of the most captivating numbers on the album is a bouncy, vibrant fugue with a catchy melody. Finally the Divertimento: Allegro molto is a sunny jazz-inspired confection.

An inspiring tour of the tango in thrilling performances.


Ian Lace

Adopted from Heinrich HOFFMANN’s Struwwelpeter -Martyn JACQUES - SHOCKHEADED PETER A Junk opera . The Tiger Lilies  WARNER/NVC ARTS 3984 26522 2 [40:46]



There are 11 tracks - a song each. The songs are strung around the story of Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann (1844). Shrill worn out comedy soprano effect and then in arch comedy BBC ‘auntie’ singing, shrieking, whispering and shouting in shrill pantomime style all resonating in a reverberant acoustic. The voice is recorded distantly or very close. This unaccountable ‘event’ is inventively done with much odd effect wrung from very few instruments including the accordion, double bass, cello, violin, trombone, banjo, clarinet and side-drum. Styles of music vary from Rocky Horror Show, cliché-ed East-End pub singalong (Chas and Dave), music hall, Austrian lederhosen band, vaudeville, light entertainment, Gypsy band and the Goons.

The words (English and German) are fully set out in the fold-out leaflet. However in terms of musical joy there is little to be harvested. It may well mean more to those who have seen the production by West Yorkshire Playhouse and Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Star marking for being unusual but not funny, not noticeably satirical, not rewardingly musical. You may find more in it. It may be my loss that I found it scant entertainment.


Rob Barnett

Combined Book and CD review

The Book Review:

DEAR ROGUE - A Biography of the American Baritone, Lawrence Tibbett.By Hertzel Weinstat and Bert Wechsler Amadeus Press - ISBN 1-57467-008-5   $34:95.


Largely forgotten today except by keen opera fans, Lawrence Tibbett rose from obscurity in 1923 to unprecedented success in opera, film and radio in the 1930s.

This book, published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tibbett’s birth, traces his life from the obscure poverty of his youth in the American Wild West, taking in his years of wealth and fame in New York and Hollywood, up to his tragic vocal decline and alcoholism, and to his death, in July 1960 at the age of 63, resulting in a fall while under the influence of alcohol.

The authors tell a story that would make a Hollywood script seem far-fetched. His father was killed in a western-style gun battle leaving his mother to bring him up. He married a possessive woman and largely ignored her and her children as his career took off in New York. His second marriage to a New York socialite led him into a whirl of non-stop parties and alcohol dependence. Although he was egotistical and easily forgot those who helped him on the way up, he was nevertheless kind to up-and -coming artists and was a diligent founder and President of the American musicians union. Yet, he was an inveterate womaniser chasing his film co-stars and embarking on numerous affairs. Sex, drug overdoses, stabbings and shootings were all part of his world. Coupled with a fabulous singing voice, was a marvellous acting talent. He threw himself with gusto into all of his roles so much so that he often caused injury to his colleagues. In one production, he drew blood with a prop sword. Although the wound was superficial the victim died from ensuing complications.

The book details all Tibbett’s singing achievements (and the embarrassing defeats as his career faded). They include a full description of the performance as Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff that brought him to fame. "The time had come for Larry, and what occurred was one of those extraordinary moments that can only take place in an opera house…Larry began, and in the words of veteran critic Oscar Thompson, he ‘took fire. He sang like a demon possessed. He hammered the table angrily and threw a cup so hard that it smashed into a multitude of pieces. Unlike most singers, Tibbett did not look at the conductor or prompter for directions. Instead, his gestures and his singing had a freedom that only veterans acquire. His passionate voice startled the audience and held it spellbound." Afterwards Tibbett retired to his room blissfully unaware that the audience was calling for him, demanding him. Taken aback themselves, the management thrust him onto the stage and the huge audience rose to its feet and, with a roar, applauded even louder. The incident was reported in the national press, and Tibbett became a celebrity overnight.

The book incorporates exclusive interviews with members of Tibbett’s family, friends and colleagues and it includes short critical analyses of existing Tibbett recordings, the commercial releases and privately recorded operas and his films. There are numerous photographs and the volume also includes the impressive list of Tibbett’s Second World War benefit appearances; a bibliography and a compact discography. (One or two of the CDs listed are no longer available. For instance, I would like to have had a copy of the Nimbus collection ‘Lawrence Tibbett from Broadway to Hollywood’ to review for Film Music on the Web but this collection had been deleted.)

A good read about a fascinating character and a wonderful singer/actor.


Ian Lace

The CD Review:

Lawrence TIBBETT in Opera NIMBUS Prima Voce NI 7825 [77:14].


Arias from: Pagliacci, Carmen, Tosca, Un Ballo in Mascherra, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia; Die Walkure; Rigoletto; Otello; and Simon Boccanegra.

Largely unknown by younger film fans or forgotten by older fans, Lawrence Tibbett, the American baritone, is still revered by opera enthusiasts as one of the world’s greatest singers. He made six films between 1930 and 1937: Rogue Song (30); New Moon (30); The Prodigal (31); Cuban Love Song (32); Metropolitan (36) and Under Your Spell (37). At the time of the debut of this Metropolitan Opera singer, Louella Parsons commented: "The long-awaited successor to Rudolph Valentino has arrived!" Tibbett’s singing of operatic arias was an important feature in each of his films.

This historic collection of popular arias dating from 78s dating from 1926 to 1939 demonstrates the power and sensitivity of his singing.

The programme opens with the Prelude to Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (recorded in 1926). One is at once aware of the richness of the voice, the perfect diction and the sensitivity to interpret shades of character so that a commanding presence and a vulnerablity sit side by side almost in the same bar. Then in Carmen (rec. 1929) he makes a dashing, swaggering Escamillo as he boasts about his prowess in the bullring. As Scarpia he is all sinister malevolence as he sings ‘Tosca, You Make Me Forget God’ in the Te Deum of Act I of Puccini’s opera (rec. 1929). Anger, frustration and fury mix in Tibbett’s Eri Tu from Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (rec. 1930) when Renato discovers his wife’s infidelity.

But it is the absolute command of Rossini’s breathtakingly fast Largo al factotum from The Barber of Seville (rec.1930) that really impresses; this really is vocal risk-taking and listen to how much varied characterisation he squeezes into the line Figaro., Figaro as a motley bunch of citizens shout for the barber’s services.

Romance, sentimentality and heroism – all are caught in Valentine’s aria from Gounod’s Faust (rec.1934) as the soldier bids his sister farewell and marches off to war. Tibbett’s seamless silken singing lifts Wolfram’s ode to the evening star from Wagner’s Tannhäuser (rec. 1934). In one of his most famous roles, Rigoletto, Tibbett singing the aria ‘Cortigiani, vil razza dannata’ spits out all his spleen against the courtiers who have conspired to bring about the ruination of his daughter by his employer the libertine Duke.

Three Iago arias are included from Verdi’s Otello (rec 1939). In the ‘Brindisi’ drinking song Tibbett thinly disguises malevolence behind bonhomie as he plots the downfall of Otello’s handsome young lieutenant, Cassio. In ‘Credo’ Tibbett is diabolical and scornful as he states his demonic creed in this monologue. In ‘Era la notte’ he is all oily spite wrapped up in mincing good intent as he tells Otello that he has heard Cassio dreaming about Desdemona.

Another of Tibbett’s major operatic roles was that of Simon the Doge in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (rec.1939). In the aria ‘Plebe! Patrizi! Popolo’, he is commanding as he quietens the mob and in an emotionally charged plea, calls for peace and an end to civil strife.

Then there is the impressive 18 minute item: Tibbett’s majestically tender interpretation of Wotan’s Farewell from Wagner’s Die Walkure (rec. 1934 with Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.)

Although the background sound often crackles, the refurbishment is first class. This is a wonderful collection and a marvellous musical experience.


Ian Lace.

Anna Russell - Again? More musical spoofs SONY SFK 60317 [77:43]


Anna Russell, the female equivalent of Gerard Hoffnung, here gives us a hilarious send-up of many types of music, pop as well as classical - and the advertising industry.

Her programme begins with ‘A Practical Banana Promotion.’ Anna is engaged to give a recital to delegates at a fruit promotion conference – but then decides her recital should enter into the spirit of the conference which has the theme 88 - 88 being the number of calories in a medium sized banana! Well, what she does with her bananas… is for your delectation! We are told that marketing should make the banana over to suit us or if that is not possible we should be made over to suit the banana. After a dissertation on the history of advertising including the tale of the ancient advertising agency, J Walter Belshazzar who put the ‘Writing on the Wall,’ she sings some typical commercial jingles. For the concert-goer, for example, she suggests the soft sell with the image of a grand piano because it has a connection with the product – the banana has 88 calories and the piano keyboard has 88 keys. So, when the audience hears a piano duo they will have a craving for babana splits! For those who resist advertising, she recommends subliminal advertising – by inserting commercials between each line of a lieder so that when the listener hears – ‘I knew you loved me…’ they also hear subliminally – ‘in my Maidenform bra!’

We then proceed to the section A Square Talk on Popular Music or The Decline and Fall of the Popular Song. Anna begins: ‘People in the Pop world take an interest in classical music – for instance they have taken Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and made it into ‘Tonight We Love’ … so I don’t see why I shouldn’t, from my point of view, louse up popular singing. After all, we mustn’t be chauvenistic must we? First of all, you have to use a microphone because the popular singer does not believe in developing the voice because that in turn develops other things and you have to be, above all, a dish if you’re a popular singer. And then it distorts the sound and the more your voice sounds anything but human the more popular it’s liable to become.’

Anna then proceeds, with relish to demolish eight forms of popular song.

Finally, she also manages to deflate the mannerisms of singing from Madrigals to Modern opera. A hilarious 77 minutes and warmly recommended.


Ian Lace

Mychael DANNA Regeneration   OST (Music with the war poetry of Siegfried

Sassoon and Wilfred Owen) VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6005 [41:51]


Mychael Danna is a new name to me. The sleeve notes (a single double fold) give no biographical information and little else apart from stills from the film and a reasonable level of detail on the discographical side. Though the disc times out as above there is in fact just over thirty minutes of original music by Danna. The remainder is made up of circa eight minutes of poems and one track from an ancient 78 presumably contemporary with the Great War. There is also a wild Gaelic dance comparable with that in Titanic at track 21. The poems are read with steely restraint.

Outstanding are the Wilfred Owen poems read by Stuart Bunce. His masterful account of Dulce Et Decorum Est and the final poem The Parable of the Old Man and the Young left a distinct shudder and a prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck.

One of my intended reads has been the Pat Barker trilogy. The way things are going I expect that the film will be my introduction to the sequence which takes as its focus the poetry of Wilfred Owen killed in the last year of the war and Siegfried Sassoon who survived both wars and died in 1967.    

What of the music: Subdued, elegiac, pastoral? Yes, sorry to be predictable but Danna's music is summed up by those adjectives. The music is a step away from the music of Geoffrey Burgon for BBC's Testament of Youth (on a Silva Screen CD). Danna displays an eloquent Holstian reserve. Sad bugle calls echo across the shires and are dimly heard amongst the rumbling thunder of the Somme, Bapaume and Passchendaele. Danna strikes a consistent unity of mood but the whole suffers from insufficient variety. The music's elegiac tone is reinforced by the wonderful and (thank heavens!) youthful voice of Lucia Mrazova whose part is a vocalise which inhabits a number of the tracks where it is used as a humanising instrumental thread. I hope we will hear more from her. She would be wonderful in Gorecki 3 of Nystroem Sinfonia del Mare.  Not so much a Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs as a Symphony Of Tragic Elegies.

Just a passing thought: the Great War has been a dominating seam in the British arts. Did the involvement of the USA (albeit from 1917 onwards) spark an equivalent stratum in the arts of the USA?

You will know if you want this disc. It is too unvaried for general recommendation but is secure in its mood of celebrating sorrowing and remembering aching loss - a loss which is still alive in those living today.


Rob Barnett

Mychael DANNA Regeneration   OST (Music with the war poetry of Siegfried

Sassoon and Wilfred Owen) VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6005 [41:51]


Mychael Danna is a new name to me. The sleeve notes (a single double fold) give no biographical information and little else apart from stills from the film and a reasonable level of detail on the discographical side. Though the disc times out as above there is in fact just over thirty minutes of original music by Danna. The remainder is made up of circa eight minutes of poems and one track from an ancient 78 presumably contemporary with the Great War. There is also a wild Gaelic dance comparable with that in Titanic at track 21. The poems are read with steely restraint.

Outstanding are the Wilfred Owen poems read by Stuart Bunce. His masterful account of Dulce Et Decorum Est and the final poem The Parable of the Old Man and the Young left a distinct shudder and a prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck.

One of my intended reads has been the Pat Barker trilogy. The way things are going I expect that the film will be my introduction to the sequence which takes as its focus the poetry of Wilfred Owen killed in the last year of the war and Siegfried Sassoon who survived both wars and died in 1967.    

What of the music: Subdued, elegiac, pastoral? Yes, sorry to be predictable but Danna's music is summed up by those adjectives. The music is a step away from the music of Geoffrey Burgon for BBC's Testament of Youth (on a Silva Screen CD). Danna displays an eloquent Holstian reserve. Sad bugle calls echo across the shires and are dimly heard amongst the rumbling thunder of the Somme, Bapaume and Passchendaele. Danna strikes a consistent unity of mood but the whole suffers from insufficient variety. The music's elegiac tone is reinforced by the wonderful and (thank heavens!) youthful voice of Lucia Mrazova whose part is a vocalise which inhabits a number of the tracks where it is used as a humanising instrumental thread. I hope we will hear more from her. She would be wonderful in Gorecki 3 of Nystroem Sinfonia del Mare.  Not so much a Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs as a Symphony Of Tragic Elegies.

Just a passing thought: the Great War has been a dominating seam in the British arts. Did the involvement of the USA (albeit from 1917 onwards) spark an equivalent stratum in the arts of the USA?

You will know if you want this disc. It is too unvaried for general recommendation but is secure in its mood of celebrating sorrowing and remembering aching loss - a loss which is still alive in those living today.


Rob Barnett

JOHN BARRY Zulu - New digital recordings of music from 17 of Barry’s film scores City of Prague PO/Nic Raine  Crouch End Festival Choir (some tracks)  SILVA SCREEN FILMXCD 305 Specially priced 2 CD set  CD1: 49.56 CD2: 51.40 Total 110+ minutes


Zulu (1964) (newly recorded 20 minute suite) and other music from The Cotton Club (1994), The Deep (1977), The Specialist (1994), King Rat (1965), The Last Valley (1970), Mercury Rising (1998), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Frances (1982), King Kong (1976), Love Among The Ruins (1975), Dances With Wolves (1990), plus world premiere recordings of The Tamarind Seed (1970), Hammett (1982), Mister Moses (1965), My Sister's Keeper (1986)

John Barry is remarkably successful and hardworking. His music is well known, often with typically long and undulating themes of ultra-romantic sympathy. Few composers combine prolific industry with such a plethora of good (and better) musical ideas.

Barry’s biography has been published recently and his orchestral work The Beyondness of Things, inspired by the sea, has been recorded by Decca. There have even been a couple of sell-out English Chamber Orchestra concerts (consecutive nights in April 1999). I have been keen on Barry’s work since I became aware, as a very young teenager, of the urgently molten music for You Only Live Twice and more recently the score for the film Swept From the Sea.

Now Silva have done it again! The music selected is from 17 classic Barry films spanning the years 1964 to the present day. These are all new digital recordings although some have appeared previously in other themed collections. Perhaps it is only one of the tracks? I certainly recall hearing the Kong prelude and its luscious love theme in Silva’s treasurable Monster album, sandwiched within a medley of Kong music by two other composers. Silva are well known for resourcefully ‘cutting the cake’ at several angles to make satisfyingly attractive anthologies.

It is at Silva’s usual twofer price which makes a welcome bargain but is not as generous as Silva’s other releases might have caused you to expect. Its circa 100 minutes are still pretty good value with some happily sunlit and dramatic performances; technical dimension to match.

The most important sequence is the complete (there is only circa 20 minutes of original music) score from Zulu, the classic 1964 film starring Michael Caine. The music is suffused with grunting threat and foreboding apparent from the first bars and then rarely far away. The sequence includes two cues not previously recorded: Bromhead’s Safari and You’re All Going To Die. The stuttering minatory main theme gains an increasingly bleak dominance. Impressive stuff and a similar epithet can be applied to the choir’s singing of Men of Harlech which is given with cliff-edge definition.

Silva have previously issued the original mono soundtrack of Zulu but promised themselves they would do better. They have!

The collection is full of treasures although the music for the Sunsilk commercial fails to entrance. What a contrast when you come to The Cotton Club suite. You can almost see and smell the jazz club atmosphere and the sleazy walls with damp running down the wallpaper. Long undulating lines (the Barry trademark), romance and even a soft-shoe shuffle are here as also is an in-style saxophone and trumpet dialogue.

The King Rat march starts out like Addison’s derring-do music for A Bridge Too Far. It is taut enough but rather low key in comparison.

I expected the suite from The Tamarind Seed to be more romantic but instead we get a cousin of the Zulu theme stuttering tense with the atmosphere artfully and gradually racked up. Hardy’s Wessex sounds incongruously not far distant.

The Last Valley music is grim like the cloud-blackened start of Finlandia. Love Among Ruins sounds like love rather than murder. The Orient Express’s sweeping waltz is there as is a harpsichord part which plays a quite distinctive role.

Mercury Rising’s end track is a clarinet serenade - heartbeat-pulsing, extended and perfectly romantic. This contrasts with the sheer commercial fluff (surely what was intended given the part of the film illustrated) that is the Florida Fantasy of Midnight Cowboy.

Then comes the track you have to play if you can only sample one section and want to hear the very best: the music for King Kong. At first this is very Bond-ey and cataclysmic. Then comes a chirpy wondrous love theme complete with faintly chittering woodwind. Superb!

The Frances theme at first swoops and slurps in sub-Rach syrup but soon finds a more reserved and sturdy tone evolving into a captivating romance for piano solo with strings.

My Sister’s Keeper evokes the languorous heat of the Deep South with piercing strings, darker and colder undercurrents and a surprising harmonica part.

Hammett is another ’tec film noir celebrating, arching and stretching in slow and sulking romance.

The Buffalo Hunt from Dances With Wolves has a wide-open prairie theme in which the horns call out magnificently. This track has considerable dynamism and lightning-strike brash chords. This contrasts with the theme from The Deep which is typically romantic.

Mister Moses opens in African jungle mode (and ends there as well). In fact there is something of Zulu in the initial pages. Also Herrmann's percussion-infested score for White Witch Doctor is likely to have been an influence. There are strange animal cries and exotic bird song aplenty. It all ends rather regally with calling brass and surging string choruses.

The custom-arranged suites were assembled by James Fitzpatrick who also produced the album.

At a rather trivial level I do wish that the minor typos (some repeated from one Silva album to the next) could have been removed. I am rather weary of seeing 'micronsonics' and 'compatable'. 'Verison' and 'sophisicated' are other examples. I would be pleased to proof-read their copy myself; if only to import my own beloved mistakes! Fogey-type aside now ended!

The slim, single-width case economically houses the two discs. This is a blessing as virtually everyone is short of storage space.

Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker are to be congratulated on the (English only) notes which are typically efficient and informative and follow David Wishart's style sheet to the micron! They concisely give lead cast-lists, dates etc.

By now, with Silva, we are used to the insignificant absence of stills from the films. A small loss beside so many gains!

Full recording and orchestral information is given including the names of the principal Czech soloists - a much appreciated touch.

Anyone wanting to build a representative collection of film music would do well to buy this and similar economically-priced composer or generic collections issued by Silva Screen. The company goes from strength to new zeniths with each issue. As for the Prague Orchestra it is pretty consistently on style under the guiding intelligences of Paul Bateman and Nic Raine.


Rob Barnett

Rob Barnett

See also Paul Tonks review

MAJOR FILM CREDITS INCLUDE (list courtesy of Silva Screen):



1962 - DR.NO






1964 - ZULU



































1974 - THE DOVE








1977 - THE BETSY




















1982 - HAMMETT

































See also Paul Tonks review

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