Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
November 1999 Film Music CD
COMPETITION - WIN a CD
Return to the November Index with thumbnails Part 2
We commence with two more video reviews (with special reference to the music) in our series The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
Maurice JARREs music for Alfred Hitchcocks TOPAZ
starring Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe, John Vernon, Dany Robin, Michel Piccoli,Philippe Noiret, Roscoe Lee Brown
Universal Home Video 044 9223 purchase from Yalplay
Leon Uris' novel supposes a tangled international espionage resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Deputy Chief of the KGB defects to the West providing all sorts of information. The Americans want to know what the Russians are providing the Cubans with, and enlist the aid of a French Embassy operative (Devereaux). Complications ensue in obtaining the information with a doomed love affair, that leads to Devereaux ordered to report his activities to the French authorities. The Russian defector reveals a spy ring of French officials working for the Russians called Topaz. This makes Devereaux's job impossible on returning to Paris. Eventually, by bluffing and outright accusation the traitors hands are forced, and the Crisis is over almost before it begins.
You have to hope Hitchcock's thinking behind hiring Jarre wasn't as simple as getting a Frenchman to write music for a Frenchman. Whether or not that was the case, that's what you get - an accordion for Devereaux's every appearance. Whether in New York, Washington, Cuba, or Paris - the instrument is his motif and an increasingly irritating one. At the most inappropriate of times, this high frequency instrument cuts across dialogue or action in a very distracting manner. An example is a tense office scene which is underscored for accordion and a kitchen sink assortment of percussion. This is a complicated film that falls flat through only the vaguest of dramas seeming wholly un-interesting between too many throwaway characters. There's much of James Bond about Devereaux, but even when showing off his technical goodies, the score merely plays on some woodblocks underneath the accordion.
The cues are drastically short, and although many segue scenes together there's no correlative sense from start to end. A harpsichord takes over for the love affair with Juanita de Cordoba, but even this cannot save a truly cut and paste soundtrack. The real musical star is the only thing you'll find acknowledged on any collection: The March that opens and closes the film.
John WILLIAMS music for Alfred Hitchcocks FAMILY PLOT
Universal Home Video 044 5513 purchase from Yalplay
Family Plot was Hitchcocks last film and John Williams first and only score for the master of suspense. Family Plot was more of a black comedy than a thriller with no murders, (at least at the time of the action) and no thrilling final climax. The critics were divided about this unusual film in the Hitchcock canon. Yet time has been kind to it and I for one appreciate it much more now than when I first saw it in 1976; its virtues probably suit the small screen better for, as Halliwell says: " this is a Hitchcock suspenser in an unusually friendly vein."
Madam Blanche, a medium on the make, is asked by elderly wealthy Miss Rainbird to find her missing grandson. Miss Rainbird had banished both him and his mother because his illegitimacy would have besmirched the family name. Blanche (Barbara Harris) and her cab driver boyfriend George (Bruce Dern) make enquiries. George learns that the grandson, Edward, is dead but when he visits the cemetery to visit the family plot he discovers that Edward has a newer and separate gravestone to that of his parents buried alongside. Georges suspicions are aroused and he visits garage owner Muloney who had erected Edwards gravestone. Muloney in panic goes to see Edward who is alive and well and living under the alias of jeweler Arthur Adamson (William Devane). Meanwhile Blanche gets another clue from Miss Rainbird about somebody else who knew Edward a priest who is now a bishop. George hurries to the Cathedral to interview the bishop only to see him kidnapped by Arthur and Fran (Karen Black). They are professional kidnappers ransoming their victims for priceless diamonds. We had actually met Fran earlier when she picks up a jewel and returns a kidnapped victim. A perfect integrating of plot elements this as Hitchcock has George nearly run over Fran, heavily disguised and on her way to the pick-up point. (George and Blanche are returning from their first meeting with Miss Rainbird.) Complications ensue with Blanche and George just interested in tracking down Edward/Adam for Miss Rainbird so that they can earn their $10,000 fee. Adam, on the other hand, is more interested in keeping them off his trail because he thinks they are pursuing him as the kidnapper and even tells Muloney to kill them in an auto accident. How Blanche and George capture the villains forms the thrilling and amusing climax to the story.
The few recordings that exist of this score concentrate entirely on the End Titles which neatly sum up all the major themes into a nice cohesive mini-suite. The Varese Sarabande Alfred Hitchcock recording has the best of these (together with suites from Suspicion, Strangers on A Train and Notorious.) This policy is understandable because Hitchcock uses John Williamss music comparatively sparingly. For instance, he follows his precedent set for the crop spraying sequence in North by North West by not employing any music at all to underscore the sequence where Blanche and George go hurtling down the mountain road in their car which that has been disabled by Maloney. The music only starts when Maloney comes to investigate their "deaths" but seeing them alive turns his car and prepares to run them down in a second assassination attempt. Forte tympani rolls support crashing staccato string chords as Maloney advances. Williams uses his tympani prominently throughout this score. Their rolls and beats are most pronounced in the early scene where Fran in blonde wig and high boots marches up to collect the ransom to an additional accompaniment of snare drums, a harpsichord carrying the melodic line, and electronic organ whinings. The tympani alone, in staccato, almost heart-beatings underscore the scene in Adams jewelry shop where the police interview him. But the most bizarre usage is in the cemetery scene where they are reinforced by a forte stroke of the bass drum when we first see the graves of Edward and his parents (Arthur/Edward having killed his parents with the aid of Maloney some years previously). As the gravedigger emerges from a hole several yards away we hear some grisly low woodwind figures and a piano plays a cold remote version of the theme associated with Fran and Arthur.
The other major element in the score is for the opening séance sessions. An other-worldly choir hums a sweet sentimental soaring melody supported by violins, and harp arpeggios
to such magnificent effect that you are almost taken in, by Blanche, as much as Miss Rainbird.
After such a promising start, it seems a great pity that Hitch did not live long enough to allow his new collaboration with Williams to develop. Who knows, it might have rivaled that of Hitchcock/Herrmann!
This month we celebrate Film Scores for Shakespeare with a selection of reviews by our contributors of scores old and new that have particularly impressed them .
First though as a reminder we list some of the scores, for films of Shakespeare plays that readily come to mind:-Antony And Cleopatra (John Scott)
Chimes At Midnight (Falstaff)(Angelo Francesco Lavagnino)
Hamlet (William Walton)
Hamlet (Ennio Morricone)
Hamlet (Patrick Doyle)
Hamlet (Dimitri Shostakovich)
Henry V (Patrick Doyle)
Henry V (William Walton)
Macbeth (Jacques Ibert)
Macbeth (William Walton)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Simon Boswell)
Much Ado About Nothing (Patrick Doyle)
Othello (Aram Khachaturian)
Othello (A.F. Lavagnino/Alberto Bargeris)
Othello (Charlie Mole)
Othello (Elliot Goldenthal)
Richard III (Trevor Jones)
Richard III (Ennio Morricone)
Richard III (William Walton)
Romeo & Juliet (Nino Rota)
The Taming Of The Shrew (Nino Rota)
Twelfth Night (Shawn Davey)
Then there are films inspired by Shakespeare like
Forbidden Planet (1956) (The Tempest)
Shakespeare In Love (Stephen Warbeck)
The list could go on and on .
A very useful aid to understanding Shakespeare is
Collection: SHAKESPEARE STORIES Adapted from Lambs Tales from Shakespeare by Jane McCulloch Narrators: Sir Derek Jacobi and Jane Lapotaire DELOS DE 6008 4 CDs [4hrs 22mins]
Romeo and Juliet
The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer Nights Dream
As You Like It
Much Ado About Nothing
The Taming of the Shrew
The Winters Tale
Most of us, at some time or other, have experienced that sinking feeling when confronted with a Shakespeare play. All those characters, all those plot twists. Have I understood it properly? Have I missed something? English Literature classes at school may have helped but many of us will have forgotten them or were antagonistic to them then. Even the professionals, the actors themselves, will admit that they, too, can be daunted by Shakespeare. It is an age-old problem and one that was addressed by Charles Lamb, and his sister Mary, in their book Lambs Tales of Shakespeare.
Lambs Tales from Shakespeare was first published in 1807 and was hailed as a unique and brilliant literary work. Marys name was omitted from the first edition - probably because her brothers name was better known, but it is possible that it was Marys own wish that her name be suppressed. However her brother conceded the importance of her contribution and her name appeared on subsequent editions. Writing to Wordsworth, Charles wrote, "I am responsible for Lear, Romeo, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest and Othello. The rest is my sisters work. It is our hope that the tales having been read and understood by the young, the true plays may then prove to them, in older years, enrichers of fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from all mercenary and selfish thoughts and a lesson of all sweet and honourable actions, for in teaching these great human virtues, Shakespeares plays are full."
The Lambs policy was for the narrative of the tales to be interwoven with the very words of Shakespeare wherever possible. Some of Shakespeares plays were omitted. There are none of the English histories, nor any of the Roman plays; and, for some reason, Loves Labours Lost was omitted from the comedies.
Sir Derek Jacobi and Jane Lapotaire are excellent narrators colouring their voices according to the wonts of Shakespeares characters and bringing the stories vividly to life. Some of the Lambs adaptations are more successful than others. Hamlet is a small miracle of condension but a lot of the detail of some of the plays is frustratingly omitted. For instance, in A Midsummer Nights Dream, the play within a play performed by Bottom and his troupe of craftsman actors is omitted, so too are the comic capers of Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch from Twelfth Night. Nevertheless this is a marvellous production, enhanced by Célia Medaglias lute playing of works by Dowland and Holborne between the tales. Full credit should also go to the adapter of the stories, Jane McCulloch. This 4-CD set is a fine introduction or reminder of the Bards works for people of all ages. Strongly recommended as a Christmas present.
EDITORS CHOICE November 1999
Simon BOSWELL A Midsumer Nights Dream OST DECCA 466 098 2 [71:30]
Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Nights Dream - Overture and Wedding March
Verdi: La traviata Brindisi (Renée Fleming and Marcello Giordani)
Puccini: La Bohème - Che gelida manina (Luciano Pavarotti)
Bellini: Norma Casta diva (Renée Fleming)
Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana - Intermezzo
Donizetti: Lelisir damore Una furtiva lagrima (Roberto Alagna)
Rossini: La Cenerentola Non più mesta (Cecilia Bartoli)
This is a truly entrancing album. Hoffmans film version of Shakespeares immortal comedy of errors might not have greatly impressed the critics, but Simons Boswells score, and the choice of source music is inspired. It comprises excerpts from Mendelssohns original music for the Shakespeare play (conducted by Ashkenazy) together with popular arias from Italian opera, sung by Deccas opera super stars.
Boswells score commences with The course of true love a sentimental, romantic piece for strings with isolated woodwind colourings. This is salon music of the turn-of-the-century and suggests not only Elgar but also French and Italian music of that genre too. An exquisite little creation.
The booklet notes tell us that Boswell was influenced by a wide spectrum of music in writing this score, from ancient music to diverse popular traditions (Indian, Bulgarian, Syrian, Egyptian, Caribbean, African to name but a few) plus Mozart, Stravinsky and Ravel etc. His talent blends all these diverse influences into a remarkably evocative score. Not since Jerry Goldsmiths Legend score, have I heard music that so successfully portrays the land of the fairies. Between the cold moon and the earth, is magically beautiful; full of fairy-light tinklings, shimmerings, ripplings and flutterings to and fro across the sound stage. Hot ice is buffoonery with pipes and tambour a merry and satirical dance, wickedly witty. The forgeries of jealousy is altogether darker and disturbing as befits the green-eyed monster, sensual hot-house music laced with menace. I know a place where the wild thyme grows is pastoral and gently romantic with soft zephyr breezes playing and fairy dust scattering over lovers bowers. (A narration of Shakespeares well-loved verse might have been an attractive bonus here)
What fools those mortals be is another busy little number in the Italian style with delightful languid, romantic moments. Strange snow is a strange rustic dance which reminds one more of the bazaars of North Africa but its incorporation of some unusual instrumentation like Caribbean steel drums and its infectious rhythms makes it irresistible. Fair lovers you are fortunately met is an arrangement, by music editor Robert Randles, of the beguiling horn melody and imposing brass fanfares from Mendelssohns A Midsummer Nights Dream. Finally Boswell arranges Mascagnis Cav. music for A most rare vision and reintroduces some of the salon-type material with which the score opened.
Just a word about the source music these marvellous arias are worth the price of the CD alone. Pavorottis Puccini aria comes from the prized Karajan recording with Miella Freni as Mimi. Renée Flemings Casta diva is one to die for, Cecilia Bartoli shows off her coloratura prowess in her Rossini aria and Roberto Alagna is magnificently ardent in the Donizetti.
This album will figure highly in my list of best scores of 1999. Dont hesitate; rush out and buy this one.
Nino ROTA Romeo & Juliet from Franco Zeffirelli's Paramount film, Romeo & Juliet, 1968. SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 200 [56:18].
Since the dawn of civilization, when movies began to talk and became big business, there have been several screen adaptations of Shakespeare's most popular play, Romeo & Juliet. But the one that most readily comes to mind is Franco Zeffirelli's splendid version, made in 1968. A stunningly faithful recreation, the film, with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as the star-crossed lovers, featured glorious colors, thrilling pageantry, a tear-jerking love story that already had defied the ages to become the ultimate romantic drama, and a grandly musical score, solidly anchored around a theme which, in no time, became a popular hit.
The years have done little to diminish the impact of the film, though it took this long for a definitive soundtrack album to finally be released. Originally, Capitol Records in the U.S. had prepared a soundtrack album in conjunction with the release of the film, which contained dramatic highlight and selected musical cues that were, at times, buried under the Bard's dialogues The success of this album eventually compelled the label to issue a full LP of the score, and a boxed set containing the complete soundtrack, both of which were subsequently deleted, never again to be seen. With the advent of CDs, the original album was reissued, with nary a touch of remastering, and matters remained as they were until now.
Rota's magnificent score, properly remastered and minus the bits of dialogue that detracted from it in its previous incarnation, is now back in the catalogue, thanks to Silva Screen's efforts, in a CD that restores it in all its splendor, and with the addition of a previously unavailable "Epilogue." Listening to it, one realizes how much our perception of Rota, as a composer, has been adulterated by his contributions to the films of Federico Fellini, the benchmarks by which we most often judge him. In his many scores for the Italian director, Rota usually let his musical vision parallel Fellini's, to the extent that they often became inseparable, in a close artistic relationship seldom equaled in the annals of the movies (the only other that comes to mind is the one that existed between Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann). One of the best examples of this synergy between visual and musical images can be found in both La dolce vita and Juliet of the Spirits, in which Rota's language became a second form of expression to the director's volatile style.
But, as he had demonstrated earlier in War And Peace, Rota could also be totally original and different once he worked away from Fellini. In fact, his greatest achievements in film scoring were for two films directed by others, The Godfather and Romeo And Juliet.
Perfectly capturing in the latter the essence of the Renaissance era, Rota conjured up images of a time gone-by, when two youngsters from feuding families could actually fall in love and die for it, in terms that seemed both of the time evoked and comfortably post-Romantic, quite a feat in itself (an interesting comparison can be drawn with another Zeffirelli adaptation of a Shakespeare play, The Taming Of The Shrew, a rollicking, lusty recreation that also inspired Rota to write one of his most engaging opus).
Giving the score its anchor is the well-known "Love Theme," which pervades it, and which sounds much less obnoxious and much more ravishing in this original context than one might have suspected after having heard it transmogrified so many times by hack pop singers and instrumentalists. But beyond that theme, what surprises here is the richness and sophistication of the entire score, as in the cue marked "Romeo and Juliet Are Wed," in which a boy soprano and an organ mesh to create a strikingly evocative image of beauty and serenity before the storm.
In this new CD edition, Rota's score finally emerges as the masterpiece it always was quietly elegant, superbly shaded, and altogether supremely melodic, the perfect musical illustration to a perfect screen adaptation of one of the world's best-loved stories.
Didier C. Deutsch
Nellee HOOPER, Craig ARMSTRONG, & Marius DE VRIES Romeo + Juliet Vol. 2 Premiere Soundtracks PRMDCD34[65:35]
In Volume 1 there was a perfect cross-section of rap, gospel, '70s glam, and indie tracks. It sacrificed any semblance of being a coherent listening experience in favour of cramming in as many audience favourites as possible. Space limitations being what they still are, this second volume was inevitable since the film is almost wall-to-wall music. The reason for that obviously being the huge number of people involved in crafting a soundtrack. You'll be stuck for determining which did what on this disc, since there is no credited breakdown. However, Craig Armstrong's subsequent career (and solo album 'The Space Between Us') make it a fair assumption that the choral "Prologue" is his. It's this cue you'll have heard on numerous film trailers in the last few years.
Like the film, you may feel that the album's first half is its best. The cues are segued together with dialogue soundbites to link disparate elements. The stunted musical telling of the tale therefore follows the same narrative pattern, and it's basically up to the point of the star-crossed lovers meeting and falling in love that the score works its best.
You'll need a focused and forgiving ear to appreciate the chops and changes between styles. Going from the spaghetti western of "Gas Station Scene" to the adagio strings of "Balcony Scene" is quite a stretch. You've got Quindon Tarver's version of Prince's "When Doves Cry" midway for starters.
It's almost a case of too many cooks, but strangely the outcome holds itself together.
Nino ROTA The Taming of the Shrew OST DRG 32928 [58:30]
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were ideally cast as Katherine and Petruchio in Zefferellis inspired 1966 production of Shakespeares The Taming of the Shrew; and Nino Rota was an equally inspired choice as composer.
RCA originally issued an LP of the soundtrack in 1967 but Rotas music played second fiddle to the dialogue highlights (important and as deservedly popular as they were). Now DRG give us the chance to hear Rotas glorious music uninterrupted by the battling between Katherine and Petruchio, except for a very few hummings of Richard Burton.
This new album has two additions: an Overture that sets out the major themes and an alternative version of the Honeymoon cue. There are two major recurring themes: a romantic yet sad romantic theme for Katherine and lighter, heroic and swaggeringly virile theme for Petruchio. Variations on these two themes are developed according to character and plot development. Additionally, there are many cues like The Wedding Banquet in which 16th Century dances are inserted with drums, recorders, guitars and tambourines etc. The woodwinds and brass are used prominently to draw more comic sketches. In Petruchio Arrives Riding a Mule for instance, they are used in a comic, flamboyant yet at the same derisory mode and the music reminds one very much of the scores that Rota wrote for the Fellini films. There is much to enjoy in the score including the exuberant and joyful Students Masquerade, the soothing guitar Sarabande solo and the wedding music with the Gloria sung by the Cappella Giulias Choir accompanied by the organ.
The sound is at times thin and wiry but overall acceptable.
An appealing romp of a score, recommended.
Cole PORTER Kiss Me Kate! Josephine Barstow; Thomas Hamson; Kim Criswell; George Dvorsky; Karla Burns; Damon Evans; Robert Nichols; David Garrison; The Ambrosian Singers/London Sinfonietta conducted by John McGlinn EMI CDS7 54033 2 2CDs [111:25]
Note: this recording was released in 1990.
Kiss Me Kate gave Cole Porter the opportunity to add his brand of magic to Shakespeares The Taming of the Shrew. Kiss Me Kate was, of course, filmed brilliantly by M-G-M in 1953 with the great Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson leading a cast that included Ann Miller, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, Bob Fosse, and Kurt Kasznar with Keenan Wynn, and James Whitmore as the two gangsters. The soundtrack recording from that film is still available, to the best of my knowledge.
But I have chosen to review this 1990 recording because: (a) it is in digital stereo sound, (b) it contains all the songs and dances plus material that was dropped before or during rehearsals, (c) in Thomas Hampson, we have a top baritone who can rival Keel; and (d) the booklet notes include all the lyrics so that one can fully savor all the clever Porter wit; the booklet also includes full details about the original stage production. The booklet also includes an interview with Patricia Morison who was Kate in the original Broadway Production which commenced on December 2nd 1948 and ran for 1,077 performances (followed by 400 performances in London).
Kiss Me Kate is a sophisticated and literate, but above all a very funny fable of an egocentric, fabulously flamboyant ex-married couple, Fred and Lilli Vanessi, who have been reunited to co-star in a production of The Taming of the Shrew. The shaky course of their reunion off-stage, is paralleled by the stormy plot of the Shakespeare comedy on-stage.
Porters career had been in the doldrums in the 1940s the era of swing a musical style totally out of joint with his style but with Kiss Me Kate he returned to top form with a score that absolutely brims with good tunes. It ranges in mood from the beautiful love ballads, So in Love and Were thine that Special Face to the lovely spoof of the Viennese operetta songs, Wunderbar (which is so attractive in its own right that people, quite rightly, take it seriously), to the witty patters songs.
The patter songs are probably best remembered. Josephine Barstow as the virago Kate/Lilli sings I Hate Men and spitefully spits out such lines as:-"I hate most the athlete with his manner bold and brassy
He may have hair upon his chest but sisters, so has Lassie!"and
" From China he will bring you jade and perfume from Araby,
But dont forget tis he wholl have the fun and thee the baby,
Oh I hate men,
If thou shouldst wed a businessman, be wary, oh, be wary
Hell tell you hes detained in town on business necessary,
His business is the business which he gives his secretary "
Then in Act II as Petruccio/Fred begins to tire of his uphill task in subduing his headstrong wife, he begins to rue his married state and in his song Where is the Life that Late I Led he remembers all the girls hed loved including:-"where is Rebecca, my Becki-weckio,
could she still be cruising that amusing Ponte Vechio,
Where is Fedora, the wild virago?
Its lucky I missed her gangster sister form Chicago.
Where is Venetia, who loved to chat so,
could she still be drinkin in her stinkin pink palazzo?
And lovely Lisa, where are you Lisa?
You gave a new meaning to the leaning tower of Pisa "
Another show-stopper was the gangsters patter song, Brush up your Shakespeare. In which they advise the fellas to:-"Brush up your Shakespeare,
Start quoting him now,
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow
Just declaim a few lines from "Othella"
and theyll think youre a helluva fella
If your blonde wont respond when you flatter er
Tell her what Tony told Cleopaterer.."
The bonus items are impressive and would have found respectable places in other musicals. A box set to be treasured alongside the original soundtrack recording.
Patrick DOYLE Much Ado About Nothing OST EPIC MOODCD30 [59:03]
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This recording was first released in 1993
This album is a pure delight. Here is a score that really sparkles: from Emma Thomsons half-sung, half-spoken declamation of Sigh no more ladies (Men were deceivers ever) against Doyles lovely tune sung warmly on the cellos and then passed sweetly on to the violins that opens the score, to the final chorus of the same refrain as all the lovers are joyfully united in the final cue, Strike up Pipers.
The Overture thrusts one joyfully, ecstatically into the action. Its wonderful heroic, masculine theme, first heard as Benedick and his fellow soldiers gallop into view, soars jubilantly, full of youthful high spirits. A superb melody. This is contrasted with the more romantic material for the romantic scenes. Another memorable cue is the later rendition of Sigh no more, ladies sung by the workers in the garden. What a marvellous tracking shot that was over the beautiful Tuscany garden.
There is so much more to admire too. There is the jolly lute, drum, trumpet and violin music for The Masked Ball, the magical romantic figures that make up A Star Danced and the comic woodwind caperings underscoring Benedicks eavesdropping on the conversation about Beatrice being in love with him and the reciprocal violin twitterings as Beatrice struggles to keep up with the maidens as she overhears them swearing Benedick loves her. Pardon goddess of the night is a strongly atmospheric piece for choir and orchestra as the torchlight procession makes its way to the tomb of the dead Hero.
Recommended unreservedly even if the luvvies thought Ken was so important that his name rather than Shakespeares should appear on the front page of the booklet!
Patrick DOYLE Henry V City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Simon Rattle EMI CDC 7 49919 2 [59:16]
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Few film music debuts are as accomplished and nigh astronomical as Patrick Doyle's. A composer formally stuck writing synthesized scores for stage and radio productions made a truthfully invigorating appearance with a full orchestral score that is powerful, assured, sophisticated... a treasure!
This album ought to lead to a concise review, for two reasons:
1) I have nothing but good things to say about it,
2) those who do not have it should not be reading a review, but should be rushing to buy the disc. That may appear somewhat trite, but is probably true nonetheless.
Here is a soundtrack that towers above a middling crowd as a score that every lover of great music should hear. The choral 'Non Nobis, Domine' is already a quickly recognizable piece among classical and filmusic buffs alike, whilst Doyle's minstrel strumming of the 'Opening Title,' the theatrical provenience of the 'Henry V Theme,' the resplendent melody for King Henry's compassion in 'The Death of Falstaff,' the tremendous action of 'Once More Unto the Breach,' the saddening, treasonous darkness present in 'The Death of Bardolph,' the unparalleled centerpiece of the score that is 'St. Crispin's Day & The Battle of Agincourt,' the tender love theme from 'The Wooing of Katherine'... all are no less amazing. Doyle uses the 'End Title,' a recording of 'Non Nobis, Domine' minus the symphonic interlude, to crown this off with a feeling of grand finality. One could write entire essays concerning these cues, and could still go on to write paragraphs on the remainders. (I think some actually have.) The score is indiffident, in the finest, non-pejorative sense; a masterpiece in form and function in the most absolute sense.
The music blossoms in the air thanks to a charismatic reading by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Everything comes together to create an underscore of glorious magnitude. With all of its might and epic splendor, it sounds nearly as timeless as Shakespeare's text.
Patrick DOYLE William Shakespeare's Hamlet Music produced by Patrick Doyle and Maggie Rodford, conducted by Robert Ziegler Sony Classical SK 62857 [76:29]
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The Triumph of the Prince: Patrick Doyle and Kenneth Branagh's film William Shakespeare's Hamlet
Let's talk about film not as it is, but as it could be. Film as art at the highest level, made without compromise or undue consideration of commerce. Imagine a world in which a major filmmaker could approach the greatest play ever written, and even if that play took four hours to perform, present it complete. Imagine if that filmmaker could bring to the play a fine cast, a supreme technical department and an utterly coherent vision, making the great play relevant to modern audiences. Imagine if that filmmaker could work to the highest standards of presentation, shooting a ravishingly beautiful film in 70mm, creating a work of staggering visual beauty which dwarfed all completing films. Surely for such a film there would be a level of anticipation to rival any previous spectacle? Yet in 1996 such a film was made, it was William Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh, with music by Patrick Doyle, and it was all but ignored, by critics and public alike.
This article will discuss some aspects of Patrick Doyle's score, and hopefully lead at least some readers reconsidering what the most under-rated film in the entire history of cinema - least some consider this claim unwarranted hyperbole, it is made after 30 years of very regular cinema going and thousands of films seen. Let me first make clear what is being discussed here. When talking about the film I am referring to seeing it in its full-intended majesty in 70mm, with 6-track sound perfectly presented on a screen measuring some 50' wide. This is an entirely different experience to seeing the 35mm reduction on a small multiplex screen, or even worse, enduring the disgracefully grainy and ill-defined video transfer. Seeing the film in 70mm brings the world of the drama fully alive, such that we enter fully into it and the four hours slip by far quicker than many films running less than half that time. When talking about the music score I am referring to the music in its intended context, as a part of the film, unless of course, specifically referring to the soundtrack album. However, I shall sometimes use the titles from the album, which are almost all lines from the play, as an easy way of refering to a particular scene.
First some context: Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Doyle have been working together for well over a decade, with Doyle originally a part of Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company. They made their cinema debut together with Branagh's outstanding film version of Shakespeare's Henry V, and have since collaborated on Dead Again, Much Ado About Nothing, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the forthcoming Love's Labour's Lost. The only Kenneth Branagh directed films he hasn't scored are the comedies Peter's Friends and In the Bleak Midwinter.
Following Doyle's acclaimed scores for Branagh's previous Shakespeare films, Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing, a first encounter with Hamlet via the soundtrack CD may give the impression of a disappointingly understated and subdued score. While the song 'In Pace' (derived from material from the themes for both Hamlet and Ophelia), sung by Placido Domingo, which opens the album, can sound overly theatrical. These first impressions may be difficult to overcome. On screen the song plays over the first half of the end titles, a fittingly operatic requiem as the finale to four hours of high drama, in which context it is as powerful and moving as any song ever written for the screen. Clearly it should come in place at the end of soundtrack album, but was doubtless placed at the beginning to capitalise on Domingo's name. Otherwise the disc is sequenced in film order, and while some cues are inevitably missing (most notably a solemn version of the main theme played on a church organ during an early scene between Ophelia, played by Kate Winslet, and her father and brother, played by Richard Briers and Michael Maloney), it does provide an excellent representation of the full score.
Doyle has crafted a complex score, fully supporting and greatly enhancing Brannagh's vision of Hamlet. The traditional approach has all too often lost any sense of tragedy. Elsinor is portrayed as a place of gothic gloom and misery, and from the onset Hamlet, Prince of Denmark a tormented soul. In such a version there can be no essential tragedy, for there is nothing to lose. Branagh makes Elsinor a place of light and beauty and joy. Hamlet, played by Branagh, is a happy young man, cheerfully in love with his beautiful girlfriend, Ophelia. Tragedy comes via murder and incest, which strikes a rotten blow of corruption at the very heart of the kingdom. Here, as is John Boorman's brilliant version of the Arthurian mythos, Excalibur, "the land and the king are one", such that when a corrupt king, Hamlet's uncle, who has murdered Hamlet's father, Claudius (Brian Blessed), and married his brother's wife, takes to the throne, the land itself is thrown into chaos.
The first semblance of music we hear is a church bell (there is no main title sequence), suggesting the toll for the dead, and soldiers on watch in the dark and snow. This uncanny atmosphere gives way to powerfully staged supernatural terror as Claudius's ghost incarnates through a statue of himself. Thus it becomes immediately clear what is wrong in this demi-paradise, such that while much of the score will be noble, majestic, suffused with an almost Elgarian sense of tragedy, Doyle is able to conjure a virtuoso 10 minute sequence for the main appearance of this apparition. Here Doyle follows Hamlet on a frantic chase through the darkling forest, taking the score into wild, pulsating atonal territory, using the device of a continually restless canon for Claudius, and hence into stark scoring for a bleakly modern string quartet. On screen the ghost of Hamlet's father recounts the crimes committed by his brother, and this is a very real ghost, no Freudian figment of the imagination. Rather, here is a restoration to the play of a world Shakespeare would have recognised, in which people had no difficulty in accepting the reality of the supernatural. Afterwards nature itself rebels, lightening crashes, the very earth sundering in response to the evil destroying the land. Doyle, summoning the fury of the elements unleashed, helps to craft one of the most breathtakingly visionary sequences ever put on film.
Branagh's approach to the play emphasises clarity of purpose and understanding, and Doyle is in his element with subtle underscoring of the key soliloquies of the play. He takes us deep into Hamlet's mind, with the brooding atmosphere of the "To be or not to be" sequence exploring the sonic soundscape territories akin to Jan Gabarek's Nordic jazz. A harp plays through the pastoral melancholy of the music for the speech "If once a window", a folk-like sense of loss and foreboding emerging from the most plaintively beguiling melodies. Elsewhere Doyle's central theme for Hamlet is a work of wondrous lyricism, capable of expressive pain, heroic nobility and many shades between, while a secondary theme for Ophelia has a simple, haunting loveliness, which captures the tragedy not just of a love denied, but a life sacrificed.
Before the intermission Doyle builds the drama to a new height, with Hamlet in the winter snows, an invading advancing army far below, as the Prince of Denmark declares "My thoughts be Bloody" and imperious drums sound a defiantly rousing tattoo. Here, as clearly as anywhere, the influence of the epic 1967 Russian version of War and Peace can be witnessed on Branagh's bold conception of Shakespeare's version of similarly universal themes.
After the intermission, which comes exactly two-thirds of the way through the film, Branagh builds the remaining 80 minutes like a relentless thriller, aided by Doyle's intensely powerful writing, escalating the drama to an epic fever pitch such as the screen has rarely seen. The final sequences of betrayal and slaughter in the throne room achieve an extraordinary sense of the timeless intensity of destiny being fulfilled before ones very eyes and ears. Yet inter-cut with the arrival and storming of Elsinor by the invading army, come to restore the just rule of law, the film presents a sense of tragic sacrifice made heroic and necessary, Hamlet's death a vital atonement for the restoration of the land. Tellingly, the music moves from violence to choral lament, through the mourning of 'In Pace', to the celebratory triumph of the latter part of the end titles (by which point 99% of the audience has left the auditorium) such that, as in all the greatest films, the story is told through the music. Hamlet continues through the titles, the song rightfully sorrowful for life lost so young and in the prime of love, yet rising to a heroic finale entirely in keeping with Branagh's vision, in which the final image is a statue of Hamlet being demolished and unceremoniously removed. The tragedy is over and now life can go on, the kingdom renewed. The final effect is exhilarating, uplifting almost transcendent, a testament to the overwhelming power of absolute cinema.
In an era of small, intelligent films, and big but empty blockbusters, William Shakespeare's Hamlet towers over everything else the decade has produced. Branagh's film is a monumental achievement, quite simply one of the very finest films ever made, and instrumental in this quality is the superb musical score by Patrick Doyle. If you have never seen this film properly, and given that there were on only two 70mm prints made for the UK, and few cinemas left in this multiplex era capable of showing them it is not an easy thing to do, then do make it a priority. Forget all other films, except perhaps the previously mentioned War and Peace, for this is the one to see. If there is a cinema with a 70mm projector near you, pester the management until they relent and show it. If not, travel to the next available screening. But whatever you do, see it, this is real cinema, and Patrick Doyle's score is an integral part of the glory of William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Gary S. Dalkin
Marco BELTRAMI The Minus Man Music from the Shooting Gallery Motion Picture VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD6043 [30:54]
Marco Beltrami studied music with Luigi Nono in Venice then at the Yale School of Music. Now resident in Los Angeles, Beltrami studied the art of film scoring with Jerry Goldsmith. 1999 is certainly the year of the Italians and Italian-born and educated film composers. Here is another innovative score inhabiting a sound world that is as far off the beaten track of the usual film score as one could imagine.
Programme out the rather crass Pop elements performed by Bryony Atkinson and Inara George and you are left with some14 innovative and often riveting tracks. Main Title, begins with that sort of sound you hear when you course a damp finger round the rim of a glass. This arresting sound is followed by tubular bells, solo soprano, brushed cymbals and what might be a didgeridos, steel cans and an implement that suggests horses hooves plus piano and violin all combining to sing a melancholy romantic song that forms the main theme. The steel cans and hooves are appropriate to the next cue entitled that truck is a horse of death in which the same instrumental quirkiness takes over, but this time there is a palpable sense of menace with a surprising tango-rhythm inflecting the closing bars. .The mechanics of vann has the same basic instrumentation but sounds like typical hillbilly music; a style that is even more pronounced in the aptly-named postal shuffle. At home is a tender statement of the main theme. Ranchos Bolero is a moody tango with tambourines, drums and solo violin playing gypsy-style before the whole slides into a grotesque howling.
Scatbacks dream is an eerie heavenly almost childish vision until a droning bass crushes its serenity and all turns ugly black. The funeral predominates the gloom under weirdly dripping bells. Hunt for gene is a quieter more introspective cue with the emphasis on violin and piano nostalgic melancholy with the quirky instrumentation held at bay but Christmas sees the return of that odd glass-rim effect that introduced the main title as it sings a rather plaintive carol-like version of the main theme.
An extraordinary, fascinating album
Last month you might remember we reviewed new albums for Deep Blue Sea and The Iron Giant and I complained about the scant time given to the original music of Trevor Rabin and Michael Kamen. Well, just to confuse everybody, this month we have two more albums for Deep Blue Sea and The Iron Giant but this time comprising fuller scores from the two composers. Film Music on the Web deplores this trend which is becoming more and more prevalent. Similar CD booklet designs dont help either (particularly in the case of Deep Blue Sea). We wonder what the Trades Description people might make of it all?
Trevor RABIN Deep Blue Sea OST VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6063 [30:13]
If you've only just seen the film, you need to retrieve your brain before listening to the music and reading any reviews. Alzheimer's saving intelligent mutant killer sharks on the loose ? How the Hell does a composer react to pitch like that ?
Rabin totally ignores any approaches previously taken for shark movies (there were a couple, right ?) and instead dives further into his orchestra 'n' electronics Armageddon style laced with trademark guitar. For all the gung-ho nonsense of the supposedly intelligent characters, this music works a treat. The finale cue ("Aftermath") is sequenced first, so that we get an heroic musical introduction to the score. It doesn't take very long for the cacophonic attacks to commence (halfway through "Journey"), and once they do you have the rest of disc pegged. "Anarchy" is the very best of these, with a frenetic pace sustained as the idiots get picked off one by one.
The score may not exactly break new ground, but it keeps its head above water with spots of innovation when many other action blockbusters don't even try.
Michael KAMEN The Iron Giant OST VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6062 [49:56]
Kamens music has a fresh and invigorating mastery of tune and texture. This is freshly conveyed in the present score for an animation fable of man meets colossal machine. The information in the insert is typically sparse but from the cue titles and the stills this seems to be a BFG type story with plenty of opportunities for Nutcracker and Brother Grimm style enchantment and macabre chills. The score is high, wide, symphonic (no synthesiser nonsense here!) and handsome with sound to match. The cues are predominantly short but four run over 4 minutes.
There are no complaints in the orchestral department. The producers ran to one of the worlds great orchestras and let Kamen direct them. The scores athletic vigour is no barrier to moments of Copland-like warbling (The Giant Wakes) and serious nightmare (Come and Get It). Throughout, the solid squat brass sound is reliable and adds to the colourful panoply. The calmness of the Bedtime Stories track has someone drifting off to sleep in lulled safety. There is an exuberant sense of threat in His Name Is Dean. Track 14 (Space Car) has a jolly Williamsy stomping heroism flashing straight into Varèse-like bell sonorities. Kamen runs to some particularly eerie shivers for Hes A Weapon. Trance-Former (nice wordplay by someone) echoes chaotic violence and quiet, high and threatening violins.
The final cue (of 23) sounds like one of those 1950s duck and cover popular songs used to reassure the US population that a nuclear explosion could be a rather jolly affair provided you ducked and took cover.
In summary then we have here 22 excellent symphonic tracks showing Kamen in ripest style and resisting the temptation to treat this animation as anything other than a grown-up commission. The films producers are to be congratulated for selecting Kamen whose music mounts from strength to strength.
Mark SNOW Crazy in Alabama OST SILVA SCREEN AMERICA SSD-1104 [47:27]
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Mark Snow again proves his adaptability as a composer, this time with a multiform, atmospheric, often-heartfelt film score that reflects and improvises upon the musical world of the 1960s. I slid the disc into my CD player, programmed out the seven songs (that includes the previously unreleased Carole King track), pushed Play, and breathed a sigh of relief...
Switching from the beautifully unpretentious solo piano (cum full orchestra) introduction of the score's memorable main theme in 'Pool of Freedom' to the bluegrass 'Mellow Ride,' to the New Orleans jazz 'Faces and Hats' to the contemporary 'Pool Fantasy/The Death of Taylor,' to the number of combinations that follow, "Crazy in Alabama" is a surprisingly invigorating score! The infrequent and unsought vicissitudes are instances of aimlessness, the occasional lack of emotion or spirit (such as in the track 'Headspin'). However, the last three tracks by Snow -- 'The Golden Gate,' 'Freedom (Pee Joe's Waltz),' and 'Crazy in Alabama' -- spout forth a compositional joy and drama that is rarely heard today... at least, not from more than a handful of composers.
The sound on the album is notably crisp, giving increase to some digital artifacts, but also allowing Snow's music to 'breathe' in practically any room. The instrumental performances are exceptional, with several solos soaring above the orchestra. Most of the songs (performed by Nancy Sinatra, Carole King, Burt Dache, Little Richard,
Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, the City of Prague Big Band, and Sybil), which I did eventually listen to, are more sentimental than meddlesome. In short, the album production by Mark Snow and James Fitzpatrick is quite solid.
Personally, I could live without the so-called Bonus Track of Sybil singing 'We Shall Overcome,' but, kindly placed at the end of the disc, it is easy to avoid...
The disc is ultimately worth the effort.
Bruce ROWLAND Journey to the Centre of the Earth Original Television Soundtrack VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6069 [68:20]
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This particular Journey to the Center of the Earth is a Hallmark mini-series, one of a line of adaptations of classic stories from the company which has previously featured an acclaimed version of Gulliver's Travels and more recently a retelling of the Arthurian legends from the perspective of Merlin. The series stars Treat Williams, Jeremy London and Bryan Brown, and is directed by the George Miller best known for The Man From Snowy River, The NeverEnding Story II, and Andre (rather than the George Miller behind the Mad Max and Babe series). Bruce Rowland is not a particularly familiar name, however he is a regular collaborator with George Miller. They made their feature debuts as composer and director on The Man From Snowy River, and Journey to the Center of the Earth is at least their eleventh project together. The series, which aired in America in September, received generally good reviews, and apparently follows the Jules Verne novel fairly closely.
The CD contains a great diversity of music, with 37 tracks spread over 68 minutes. Rowland employs both orchestra and electronics, and the first thing to note is that he has wisely avoided any direct comparison with Bernard Herrmann's great score for the 1959 MGM film version of the story, taking a totally different musical direction. This really is a mixture, with the opening electronic atmospherics bringing to mind Vangelis and particular Blade Runner, while the pulsating rhythm first heard in 'Troopers' might make one expect Christopher Reeve's Superman to suddenly appear. 'Maori Long Boat' features authentic sounding chanting over a minimal backdrop, while 'Chief's Game' introduces a humorous motif before the arrival of several brooding suspense cues which make good use of otherworldly synthesiser patches, and tend to have words like Pterodactyl and Raptosaur in the title. 'The Kiss' develops an attractive piano love theme, through the electronic strings in the early part of the cue are a disappointment. 'To the Village' fuses 'World' music drumming with a 'Western' fanfare and yet more electronics, introducing a part of the album which features three dances and a theme for 'Ralna' (played by Petra Yared). The rather light-weight feel of these sequences brings to mind nothing so much as a BBC2 documentary series, with the sound being especially evocative of the world established by Sheldon Mirowitz with his score for Columbus and the Age of Discovery.
The album takes a more sombre turn with 'Troubled' and offers a further development of the piano theme in 'Thinking of Alice', before 'Exile Village' introduces a synthesised choir to add a sense of New Age Renaissance grandeur to the drama. 'Jhotan' builds a sense of foreboding impressively, before the inevitable cues for 'Escape' and 'Parting'.
This lengthy album would seem to give a good presentation of Bruce Rowland's score, and it certainly sounds as it might work well on screen. The blend of orchestra, electronics and New Age sensibility is unusual for such a subject, and the score is surprisingly understated for such a tale of high adventure. There are only a few moments where the music comes fully to life in the expected manner, and in these passages the orchestra never attacks with great intensity. It may simply be that this is music for a more melancholy, mystical version of Verne than we have seen before, and while synthesised strings are no substitute for the real thing, there is a considerable amount of attractive, if not exceptional music on this disc. The sound quality is very good, and this is certainly a superior modern television score, but you may be best advised to wait until you have seen the mini-series before deciding to part with your money.
Gary S. Dalkin
Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century
Complete boxed set 26CD at Amazon ($296.97 ) Yalplay (£143.97)
Compilation: Movie Music: The Definitive Performances by Various Composers /
SONY Legacy Recordings J2K 65813
Individual discs not offered yet
Compilation: Broadway: The Great Original Cast Recordings by Various Composers
SONY Legacy Recordings J2K 65810
Individual discs not offered yet
In celebration of the end of the century, Sony Music has compiled perhaps the most extensive collection of recorded music ever. Drawing from archives of labels affiliated with Sony Music, Legacy Recordings has assembled an impressive historical sampler of music from the last 100 years. The result, Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century, consists of 547 titles on 26 CDs, packaged by genre into 12 volumes (multiple CDs per volume), which are sold both individually and as a boxed set. The boxed set includes all 26 CDs in a special binder, as well as a coffee table book (retails for $260 - $300 online). The individual volumes sell for $20 to $23 online and come with extensive liner notes on each title (Movie Music and Broadway have booklets over 60 pages long each.)
The 12 volumes cover 10 major genres: Pop Music (Early Years, Golden Era, and Modern Era), Classical, Jazz, Folk Gospel and Blues, Country, Rock, R&B, International, Movie Music, and Broadway. This article reviews only the latter two volumes, focusing mainly on Movie Music, which is the only volume of interest to soundtrack lovers. Although the word "soundtrack" is used in the title of this compilation, only the Movie Music volume is dedicated to movie soundtracks. The rest are compilations of their respective genres. The Broadway volume might have tangential interest for fans who also enjoy Broadway shows.
Movie Music: The Definitive Performances is an amazing collection of 44 selections representing 43 films (Titanic had two tracks) from the first decade of the century to 1998. Unfortunately for score fans, only six (maybe seven) of these selections are score tracks: "Music for Silent Movies," The Bridge Over River Kwai, West Side Story, Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, and Titanic. Giant by Dmitri Tiomkin is featured as well, but includes a generous amount of singing. Together (counting Giant), these tracks comprise only 21 minutes of score music. So if you are a strict score-only fan, this volume probably wouldn't be appealing. Besides, you probably already have the full score to each of these films.
If your love for film music extends to movie songs that become inextricably linked to heart of the films (like me), then Movie Music is an exciting gem of a compilation. Every single song selected for this album is a priceless classic. From the original performance of "Singin' in the Rain" to "An Affair to Remember" to the famous "M*A*S*H*" theme to "My Heart Will Go On," each song is a cultural icon, a treasured slice of film music history. It is the immense memorial value of this collection, which captures the emotional essence of timeless movie classics, that gives this volume the bomb shelter rating. If the bomb siren sounds, this would be the one songtrack album I would take underground with me without hesitation. What could better remind us unequivocally of the intrinsic and indispensable role music plays in pictures, than songs that evoke instant nostalgia of the films we love?
The first disc is full of golden age oldies, including "Inka-Dinka-Doo" by Jimmy Durante (for the younger audience, remember Greedy with Michael J. Fox?) and other songs performed by Mae West, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Doris Day. The sounds are classic Americana (similar to early Disney music like Snow White and Cinderella), reminding us of a more innocent and romantic age in our cultural history. There is a soothing and carefree feel to these songs that make them a gentle pleasure to listen to. The first CD ends with the winding down of this innocence in 1960's, featuring songs such as "Mrs. Robinson" from The Graduate, "To Sir With Love," and "The Way We Were."
The second disc moves through contemporary favorites such as Kenny Loggin's "Footloose," Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun, Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia, and closing with Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from Armageddon. The only shortcoming of this album is that it is limited to songs released by Sony Music, which means it failed to feature other soundtrack chart toppers such as "The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing, "What a Feeling" from Flashdance, or "Gangsta's Paradise" from Dangerous Minds. Still, over 75 minutes of music on each CD is not a shabby effort. They definitely had enough from their own archives to fill each CD up with only the best.
The Broadway album likewise has a thorough and delightful representation of all the original (as in first) cast recordings of classics like Show Boat, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Cabaret, and A Chorus Line. Of course, all the major classics have been made into film, which has the recordings that are much more familiar to the present audience. The sound in original Broadway cast recordings is decidedly different from current styles. Even though they are performed by such notable voices as Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews, Chita Rivera, Richard Burton, or Dick Van Dyke, the performances have a corny formality that is easily overshadowed by their contemporary counterparts. Most of the time, the sound is somewhat spare and stiff, not as rich in orchestration or emotion as their more recent versions on either Broadway or film. Perhaps it is a result of familiarity or better technology, but I prefer the film versions to any one of these older performances. The value of this album is more because of its panoramic view of Broadway music history than in the sheer preeminence of the craft. Broadway fans, in particular, would enjoy this respectable sampler of the early days of the art.
Depending on how much you love music, and how much history you enjoy as a part of your listening experience, you may either celebrate the release of the Movie Music and/or Broadway volumes or find them optional for your collection. For myself, I love hearing the delicate evolution of film music and owning a piece of our cultural heritage. If only Sony had made a Film Score volume, life would be perfect.
Track listings return to head of review
Movie Music: The Definitive Performances (Total Score Time - 21:39)
Disc 1 (Total Time - 77:29)
1. Music For Silent Movies - Traditional / Charlie Young (0:51)
2. Singin' In The Rain (from Hollywood Revue Of 1929) - Cliff Edwards
3. You Are Too Beautiful (from Hallelujah, I'm A Bum) - Al Jolson
4. A Guy What Takes His Time (from She Done Him Wrong) - Mae West
5. Temptation (from Going Hollywood) - Bing Crosby
6. Inka-Dinka-Doo (from Joe Palooka) - Jimmy Durante
7. Rock And Roll (from Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round) - The Boswell Sisters
8. Lullaby Of Broadway (from Gold Diggers Of 1935) - Dick Powell
9. The Way You Look Tonight (from Swing Time) - Fred Astaire
10. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening (from Higher And Higher) - Frank Sinatra
11. Secret Love (from Calamity Jane) - Doris Day
12. The Man That Got Away (from A Star Is Born) - Judy Garland
13. Giant (from Giant) - Dmitri Tiomkin (3:15)
14. March From The River Kwai & Colonel Bogey (from The Bridge On The River Kwai) - Malcolm Arnold (march theme by Kenneth Alford) (2:28)
15. An Affair To Remember (from An Affair To Remember) - Vic Damone
16. A Certain Smile (from A Certain Smile) - Johnny Mathis
17. My Heart Belongs To Daddy (from Let's Make Love) - Marilyn Monroe
18. Overture (from West Side Story) - Leonard Bernstein (4:40)
19. With A Little Bit Of Luck (from My Fair Lady) - Stanley Holloway & Ensemble
20. To Sir With Love (from To Sir With Love) - Lulu
21. Mrs. Robinson (from The Graduate) - Simon & Garfunkel
22. Ballad Of Easy Rider (from Easy Rider) - The Byrds
23. Be (from Jonathan Livingston Seagull) - Neil Diamond
24. The Way We Were (from The Way We Were) - Barbra Streisand
Disc 2 (Total Time - 75:24)
1. Suicide Is Painless (from M*A*S*H) - The Mash
2. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (from Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid) - Bob Dylan
3. Evergreen (from A Star Is Born) - Barbra Streisand
4. On The Road Again (from Honeysuckle Rose) - Willie Nelson
5. Tender Years (from Eddie & The Cruisers) - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
6. Footloose (from Footloose) - Kenny Loggins
7. Take My Breath Away (from Top Gun) - Berlin
8. It Had To Be You (from When Harry Met Sally) - Harry Connick, Jr.
9. The John Dunbar Theme (from Dances With Wolves) - John Barry (3:43)
10. State Of Love And Trust (from Singles) - Pearl Jam
11. When I Fall In Love (from Sleepless In Seattle) - Celine Dion/Clive Griffin
12. Streets Of Philadelphia (from Philadelphia) - Bruce Springsteen
13. I'm Forrest...Forrest Gump (from Forrest Gump) - Alan Silvestri (2:41)
14. Childhood (from Free Willy 2) - Michael Jackson
15. The Sweetest Thing (from Love Jones) - Refugee Camp All-Stars/Lauryn Hill
16. Men In Black (from Men In Black) - Will Smith
17. I Say A Little Prayer (from My Best Friend's Wedding) - Diana King
18. Southampton (from Titanic) - James Horner (4:01)
19. My Heart Will Go On (from Titanic) - Celine Dion
20. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing (from Armageddon) - Aerosmith
Broadway: The Great Original Cast Recordings
Disc 1 (Total Time - 77:22)
1. Bill (from Show Boat) - Helen Mirren
2. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (from Show Boat) - Carol Bruce/Helen Dowdy/Kenneth Spencer/Chorus
3. How Are Things In Glocca Morra (from Finian's Rainbow) - Ella Logan
4. Wunderbar (from Kiss Me, Kate) - Alfred Drake/Patricia Morison
5. Some Enchanted Evening (from South Pacific) - Ezio Pinza
6. A Wonderful Guy (from South Pacific) - Mary Martin/Girls' Chorus
7. Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) - Carol Channing
8. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered (from Pal Joey) - Vivienne Segal
9. Stranger In Paradise (from Kismet) - Doretta Morrow/Richard Kiley
10. Hey There (from The Pajama Game) - John Raitt
11. Hernando's Hideaway (from The Pajama Game) - Carol Haney/Ensemble
12. The Rain In Spain (from My Fair Lady) - Rex Harrsion/Julie Andrews/Robert Coote
13. I Could Have Danced All Night (from My Fair Lady) - Julie Andrews/Phillipa Bevan/Cast
14. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face (from My Fair Lady) - Rex Harrison
15. Standing On The Corner (from The Most Happy Fella) - Shorty Long/John Henson/Roy Lazarus/Arthur Gilbert
16. The Party's Over (from Bells Are Ringing) - Judy Holliday
17. Tonight (from West Side Story) - Larry Kert/Carol Lawrence
18. America (from West Side Story) - Chita Rivera/Girls
19. Somewhere (from West Side Story) - Cast
20. Conga! (from Wonderful Town) - Rosalind Russell/Ensemble
21. I Enjoy Being A Girl (from Flower Drum Song) - Pat Suzuki
22. Everything's Coming Up Roses (from Gypsy) - Ethel Merman .
Disc 2: (Total Time - 76:15)
1. My Favorite Things (from The Sound Of Music) - Mary Martin/Patricia Neway
2. Do Re Mi (from The Sound Of Music) - Mary Martin/Children
3. Put On A Happy Face (from Bye Bye Birdie) - Dick Van Dyke
4. Camelot (from Camelot) - Richard Burton
5. Anyone Can Whistle (from Anyone Can Whistle) - Lee Remick
6. Do I Hear A Waltz? (from Do I Hear A Waltz?) - Elizabeth Allen/Ensemble
7. Big Spender (from Sweet Charity) - Helen Gallagher/Thelma Oliver/Girls
8. Mame (from Mame) - Charles Braswell/Ensemble
9. Willkommen (from Cabaret) - Joel Grey/Cast
10. Cabaret (from Cabaret) - Jill Haworth
11. The Ladies Who Lunch (from Company) - Elaine Stritch
12. I Want To Be Happy (from No, No Nanette) - Jack Gilford/Susan Watson
13. Send In The Clowns (from A Little Night Music) - Glynis Johns
14. What I Did For Love (from A Chorus Line) - Priscilla Lopez/Company
15. One (from A Chorus Line) - Company
16. Tomorrow (from Annie) - Andrea McArdle
17. Folies Bergeres (from Nine) - Lilane Montevecchi/Stephanie Cotsirilos
18. Never Met A Man I Didn't Like (from Will Rogers' Follies) - Keith Carradine
19. My Friend (from The Life) - Pamela Isaacs/Lillias White
We are grateful to Helen San (www.cinemusic.net) for giving us permission to include this review which is currently appearing on her Film Music site.
Miklos Rozsa at MGM by Miklos Rozsa Rhino Records R2 75723
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If ever there is a legend in film music, Miklos Rozsa would instantly be amongst the names that come to mind. Accomplished as both a classical concert composer and film composer, Rozsa was one of the early pioneers who brought legitimacy and respect to the fledgling field of film music. Unlike some of his scholarly contemporaries, Rozsa never relegated film music to a lower caste than concert compositions. He had an intuitive understanding and dedicated vision for the role of music in film that earned him assignments in over 40 scores and a film music teaching position at the University of Southern California. Probably best known for his Academy Award winning score for Ben-Hur, he had an extensive filmography in historical and biblical epics. This anthology of 13 film scores by Rozsa comprises music he had written for MGM Studios, 12 of which are historical and period pictures (the only exception is The World, The Flesh and The Devil).
From the soft violin waltzes of Madame Bovary to the sweeping grandness of Green Fire to the ancient dignity of King of Kings, the collection demonstrates Rozsa's imitable strengths and eloquent range. The score suites showcase Rozsa's signature historical interpretations, heroic battles, and lyrical romance, even while presenting his stylistic and individual voice for each film. Some resound with a more innocent and virtuous idealism, such as Tribute to a Bad Man, while others have a more melancholy, tragic chord as in Diane. Some are heavily fortified with commanding action/battle cues such as Knights of the Round Table, while others are delicately poetic, as in King's Thief. Always, it is written with consummate artistry and poise. This music is the icon of the Golden Age. They just don't make them like this anymore.
Rhino's 2 CD compilation is an elegant, thoughtful collection of Rozsa's years at MGM. Most of the music, outside of Madame Bovary, Ivanhoe, Lust for Life, and King of Kings, are previously unreleased and available for the first time. Moreover, all of the tracks (except King of Kings) contain previously unissued music. The sound is excellent, as most of it was digitally remastered from original session masters. Madame Bovary and Ivanhoe are presented mostly in mono because of the original material. All except one selection (Beau Brummell) are at least 10 minutes in length, giving the listener a generous sampling of each score. The album comes with a detailed 45 page booklet that offers insightful and intelligent discussion of Rozsa's inspirations and styles.
For those who are not yet familiar with Rozsa, this release is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to be introduced to one of the greatest of all time. Rozsa fans, of course, do not need any encouragement to buy this volume. With so much music available for the first time, is a remarkable accomplishment of film music preservation. Although it is obviously missing Rozsa's two most famous scores, Ben-Hur and Quo Vadis, the set offers a glimpse of the gestalt of Rozsa's body of work. A must-have for all score lovers, it stands as a superb testament to his timeless contribution to film music.
Track listing return to head of review
Disc 1 (Total Time - 78:15)
1. Madam Bovary (17:29)
2. Ivanhoe (20:09)
3. Knights Of The Round Table (11:59)
4. Beau Brummell (5:06)
5. Valley Of The Kings (13:25)
6. Moonfleet (10:01)
Disc 2 (Total Time - 78:21)
1. Green Fire (9:10)
2. The King's Thief (10:10)
3. Tribute To A Bad Man (10:37)
4. Diane (10:00) 5. Lust For Life (13:58)
6. The World, The Flesh And The Devil (11:19)
7. King Of Kings (13:00)
We are grateful to Helen San (www.cinemusic.net) for giving us permission to include this review which is currently appearing on her Film Music site.
Collection: The Twilight Zone (The 40th Anniversary Collection) Music by Bernard HERRMANN; Jerry GOLDSMITH; Franz WAXMAN Leonard ROSENMAN, Fred STEINER and others. SILVA Treasury STD 2000 4CDs [4hrs 51mins]
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"You are about to enter a new dimension next stop The Twilight Zone "
It must be daunting enough to score for a film using all the resources of a full orchestra, but to achieve the same colour and effects with a small ensemble of less than ten players, the men are separated from the boys (or, increasingly, now, the women from the girls). Yet this is what these composers were asked to do to bring home the bacon to meet The Twilight Zones short deadlines and to even shorter budgets.
The Twilight Zone ran on the CBS network from 1959 until 1964. Its tales of science fiction and mystery were intelligent and thought-provoking and nearly always they had a moral or made some social comment.
CD1 Bernard Herrmann
The Classic Hermann of the endlessly inventive textures (rather than of the steely-satin iceberg paced-tunes) dominates the first disc. That he produced these effects with minimal forces and with a proper concern for the accountants' peace of mind is a tribute to his resourcefully stocked imagination.
The spoken introduction ushers us straight into those classic episodes with Herrmann's own theme (which is not the one that everyone knows!). The first season's start and close music is derived from the gentlest collision between Sibelius's Bard and the cycling strings of the Rite of Spring. Between them comes Where Is Everybody: a sharp as a razor clean-lit death-hunt for horns and strings: pursuit and panic personified.
As a staff composer for CBS, Herrmann wrote music for their sound library as much as many of the British light music luminaries of the 1940s and 1950s. The Outer Space Suite is an example of this genre and was clearly a lode from which he mined many later sci-fi and fantasy scores. The Prelude sounds like the main theme music from The Day The Earth Stood Still but minus the ondes martenot. Signals is a chipper woodwind razz, like the 'telescopes' music from the same film. Similar patterned echoes can be discerned in tracks 10 (harp and woodwind over Gallic accents) and 15. The other movements show Herrmann's talents to great effect: Space Drift a piacevole for the harp's downward-spiral and an icy flute. Time Suspense is something of a flat draught. Danger (11) was later drawn on for the Serpent-song dragon death in Journey To The Bottom Of The Earth and Airlock has similar redolence. Moonscape's silver neatly sets off Tycho which has the Dies Irae prismed and split down.
The remainder is a mix of substantial chunks of music and titles either opening or closing. The titles have variously an aggressive strident tread, echoes of Journey and in the final track the classic macabre sensibility of gloom-merchant Herrmann - a depressive's berceuse of lonely houses and the black shadows of Holst's Neptune. The more substantial essays are from Walking Distance (including a fragile as dust dance scene); Hitchhiker which has true gloom of the darker late film scores and the final The Lonely (a drowned sound world - a Cathédrale Engloutie of Poe's lurid imagination).
This is a most attractive disc and a sine qua non for all Herrmann collectors.
CD2 - Jerry Goldsmith
This second CD begins with the edgy but memorable Second Season Introductory music and Main Title composed by Marius Constant.
Goldsmith was still, in the very early stages of his career when he worked on this series contributing to some of the most notable programmes. His work on The Twilight Zone certainly propelled him forward. For the Back There episode he uses a harpsichord and a small string ensemble to give a period feel to a time travelers attempt to avert the assasination of Abraham Lincoln. This arresting score is both tonal and atonal and therefore unsettling adding to the brooding atmosphere and suspense. Long-held overlapping string chords are punctuated by staccato single piano strokes and a terrifying climax is reached with the upper strings positively screaming in protest. A harmonica is prominently featured in The Big Tall Wish. The music is sorrowful and yearning and it often suggests a child-like innocence and loneliness. The music settles into a slow waltz-like pattern before eventually the temperature rises and the music becomes more optimistic. The Invaders begins in a sound world not far removed from Herrmanns Psycho, there are the same shrill stabbing string chords, plus a strange violin figure that recalls the Devils trill plus cello glissandi and short piano chords etc. The celeste is added to this little instrumental group and its glissandi sound like some demented. Add some weird solo violin pizzicatos, and isolated organ bells and triangle chords and you have a mesmerizing score for this tale of an elderly woman and her diminutive alien attackers. The harmonica is again prominently featured in Dust. Together with guitar to atmospherically underscore this tale of the Old West and the travelling salesmans offer of miracles. This score cleverly exploits both instruments and double tracks the harmonica to enrichen the sound palate. This is a very inventive and imaginative with Goldsmith often exploiting the top and bottom registers of his ensemble with great effect. A subtle allusion to the Dies Irae gives a clue to the motivation of this miracle worker?
The remaining cues on this CD include two jazz themes one sophisticated, sexy, slinky and reminiscent of the James Bond, Mission Impossible, Flint etc themes of that period and the other deeper, darker and sinister and quirky with an emphasis on brushed drum work. Before the end title, there is the score for Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room.
This has a persistent tick-tocking figure that is first stated in the percussion and then taken up by the other members of the ensemble. Is a bomb ticking away? Another mesmerizing score.
CD 3 Nathan Van Cleave Nathan Scott and Rene Garriguenc
This CD commences with Marius Constants theme for the Third Season Introduction.
Nathan Van Cleaves first assignment on The Twilight Zone was the episode entitled, Perchance to Dream. Beginning with an almost police-siren like screeching it chillingly effectively underscores this story a man who is afraid of falling asleep. This is a score that mixes sweet dreams with dark nightmares recalling fairground-fun as well as spectres. It uses both Novachord and Theremin atmospherically. Hysteria mounts as the mans dementia increases. A World of Difference has another electronic score to for a businessman who discovers he is merely a character in a movie a film noire by the sound of it. Elegy is a brooding piece spooky and quirky. Two is another dark and rather militaristic score for strings, tympani and muted horns it has a feeling of isolation and delusion. More cheerful (in general) is the music for Ray Bradburys story, I Sing the Body Electric about three children and their robot grandmother. It is a string-led piece with guitar giving it a cosy, homely feel. The music is sometimes playful and merry and high-spirited indeed at one point it rushes skywards like some shooting star but of course there are tense and suspenseful moments befitting The Twilight Zone character of these stories.
Nathan Scotts contribution is represented by his music for A Stop At Willougby which is about a longing to return to childhood. Again the cosy, front-porch, local town band atmosphere is contrasted very well with more disturbing material.
Rene Garriguencs breezy original jazz composition, entitled Street Moods in Jazz (vividly evoking the busy streets and the street-wise) for The Prime Mover concludes the CD apart from the third season End Title.
CD 4 - Fred Steiner, Leonard Rosenman, Jeff Alexander and Franz Waxman
The fourth disc's miscellany gives us the accustomed spoken intro over Constant's famous theme. Then comes a small slice of Constant: clear block-cut avant-garde music with sounds welcomed at that time only in the world of sci-fi and fantasy. The best of the Fred Steiner tracks is to be found in Hundred Yards Over The Rim (harmonica and a small body of strings in solitary serenade) and the sepia Fall elegies of The Passerby - rising into darker music out of Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht. The Leonard Rosenman music for When The Sky Was Opened, with its dour sourness, seemed rather a low spot in the collection while Jeff Alexander's Trouble With Templeton is all jazzy sophistication and blue cigarette smoke curling languidly. The Waxman track caused me high expectations which were undelivered. Waxman's The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine drifts around with a whispering jazz trio, muted sax and trumpet and a serenading solo violin but left me disappointed.
The 4-CD set comes with a 12 page booklet in monochrome reminding us that The Twilight Zone was broadcast in the days of black and white telly. The booklet has many photographs stills from the TV programmes although some are rather indistinct. Some of the scores are not covered in the analysis but on the whole this documentation is very good particularly in its summary of the history of the programme.
Whether these selections will make repeated visits to the CD player is questionable this will be a matter of personal taste; nevertheless this is a very valuable collection and notable for documenting another dimension of important film composers work.
CD1 Rob Barnett CD2 Ian Lace
CD3 Ian Lace CD4 Rob Barnett
Collection: Cinema Century 2000 A Four CD anthology with The City of Prague Philharmonic,The Westminster Philharmonic & The Crouch End Festival Chorus, conducted by Paul Bateman and Nic Raine. SILVA SCREEN - FILMXCD318 Disc One: [62:55], Disc Two: [56:18], Disc Three: [62:48], Disc Four [62:00]. Total time [244:01]
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Complete track listing
In 1996, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Cinema in Britain, Silva Screen released Cinema Century, an excellent triple CD anthology selling for the price of a single full-price disc. Now we have the sequel, and as is the way with sequels, it is bigger and even more spectacular than the original, offering 4 CDs and 4 hours and 4 minutes of music for a suggested selling price of only £16.95.
The recordings come from previous Silva releases, the four discs sequenced in strict chronological order to present a portrait of 7 decades of film music. The spread of music over the years is not even, reflecting the fact that Silva have concentrated their efforts in recording music from the last 30 years, rather than the so-called "Golden Age" of film music. In total there are 56 tracks, with music from 55 films (there are two selections from The Godfather), though only four of the films where not made in English, such that this is the cinema century mainly from the Hollywood perspective. Some obvious classics are missing here, such as Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars, but it should be remembered that this is a follow-up collection, and those and many other titles were featured on the original Cinema Century.
Disc one covers the period 1933-58, opening as any collection pretending to be definitive must, with music from the first great score of the synchronised sound era, King Kong, by Max Steiner. Here we have the 'Prelude', fittingly opening with the very of the history of recorded film music. A stirring interpretation it is too, getting the set off to a fine start. The 'Love Theme' from Korngold's The Adventures of Robin Hood follows, and lacks some of the lush romanticism the best re-recordings have brought to this marvellous music. On much better form is a thrilling version of the 'Entry into Pskov' from Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky, based on his score for the film of the same name. I saw this 1938 film recently as part of the Purbeck Film Festival, and even after a modern restoration the recording on the soundtrack is of dreadful quality. Any purists who condemn re-recordings are welcome to the original, but the version recorded here has all the thrilling dynamism and visceral power the technology of the time denied the filmmakers. The following tracks are all of a high standard, with the Alfred Newman / Hugo Friedhofer Overture from The Mark of Zorro being exceptional, as well as nicely contrasting with the very last track in the anthology, more of which later. This first disc concludes with the 'Finale' from The Vikings by Mario Nascimbene, which is fine as far as it goes, but may well leave you wanting more, and indeed, is extracted from a much longer suite found on the very fine Silva set, Warriors of the Silver Screen. Before that, comes a suite from Hitchcock's first movie of 1955, To Catch A Thief. This was the film the Master of Suspense made directly before starting his long collaboration with Bernard Herrmann, and as such Lyn Murray's music has tended to be over shadowed. Have no doubt, this is appealing music and it is good to have something different, rather than the obvious choice of more Herrmann.
Disc two begins with an orchestral arrangement of Henry Mancini's great 'Moon River' from Breakfast at Tiffany's. As often which such arrangements, it jars at first because it sounds that bit different to previous versions, but this is the sort of standard which can, and has, shone through hundreds of treatments, and this particular recording has a captivating romance of it's own. Still in 1961, Dimitri Tiomkin's 'The Legend of Navarone' from The Guns of Navarone is rousing and heroic, yet somehow just misses the fire of the original. Now come five tracks from 1962. A rhapsodic version of the 'Love Theme' from Miklos Rozsa's El Cid features particularly fine solo violin playing, and could not be more different to the 'James Bond theme', the most iconic of all film themes given a blistering orchestral treatment with heavy percussion. A full chorus offers the anthemic 'Prelude' from Alfred Newman's How the West Was Won, and the singing has the necessary commitment to make this piece of ripe bombast utterly convincing. Once a favourite of film theme and MOR compilations, but now virtually forgotten, 'The Shadow of Your Smile' by Johnny Mandel, from the 1965 movie The Sandpiper is perfectly evocative both of the film, and of all those Mantovani albums now available at your local charity shop. A gorgeous slice of lyrical melancholy, it now sounds more from another time than the classic sounds of Korngold, Rozsa and Steiner. The romance continues with Michel Legrand's 'The Windmills of Your Mind' from the original (and infinitely superior) version of The Thomas Crown Affair. Capturing the atmosphere of the original almost perfectly, with the cascading piano and harpsichord spot on, this is an elegant gem. An extended suite from Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet happily does much more than just present the famous love theme. If that is all you have heard from this wonderful score, the selection here may well make you rush to buy the complete soundtrack. So it wasn't written for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but such is the association between the opening of Richard Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' and the best SF film ever made, that few will mind the inclusion of the powerful recording here. Ennio Morricone's music is particularly idiosyncratic, but good work has been done in encapsulating the flavour of 'Man with the Harmonica' from Once Upon A Time in the West. Disc two concludes in particularly fine form, with almost 9 minutes of music from one of the most shamefully under-rated films ever made. David Lean's Ryan's Daughter is nothing less than a masterpiece, it's disgraceful critical reception in 1969 denying us those films Lean might otherwise have made in the 70's. Maurice Jarre's score is one of his best, and is summarised here by immaculate readings of 'The Beach', 'March of the Rebels' and 'Rosy's Theme'.
The third CD opens in romantic mood with another fine melody by Michel Legrand, 'The Summer Knows' from The Summer of '42. Last Tango in Paris (Gato Barbieri), The Godfather (Nino Rota) and The Way We Were (Marvin Hamlish) are all lovingly evocative, leading to the first appearance of Jerry Goldsmith and one of his great scores, Papillon. 'Out to Sea' and the 'Main Theme' represent the score well, presenting both the melancholy and the indomitable spirit at the heart of this work. 1978 is covered by 'Cavatina', Stanley Meyer's eloquent guitar theme from The Deer Hunter, and it is now as the album moves into the post-Star Wars era of film scoring, that it becomes obvious there is a John Williams shaped hole in this anthology. Presumably this is to avoid overlap with Silva Screen's recent 2CD William's collection, but given that Williams has dominated film music like no one else during the last two decades, a couple of more obscure tracks would have helped balance the set before the late arrival of Saving Private Ryan. The post-Star Wars SF boom years are represented by Jerry Goldsmith and his brilliant 'Finale' from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, here in a splendid performance which really should please everyone. John Barry arrives definitively with his sinuous theme from Body Heat, an excellent choice given that this music was until recently very difficult to obtain, and is one of Barry's strongest 80's scores. 'O Fortuna' from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is well represented in the classical catalogue, and surely Excalibur would have been better served by a selection from Trevor Jones overlooked score? The disc concludes with by far the longest selection in the anthology, a 13-minute suite from Danny Elfman's Batman. Making for a strong finale, this is gothic film music on the grand scale. The only question is that there are other films which might better deserve such extended treatment. Nevertheless, at such bargain price it would be foolish to complain, especially given that the itself most accomplished.
Disc four is devoted entirely to the 90's, the opening Alex North's 'Unchained Melody' supports those who argue that there is no good film music being written today. For although the melody became the theme for 1990's Ghost, it was written decades before.. The version here is a full orchestral treatment, leading to a perfect recreation of Jerry Goldsmith's icy theme from Basic Instinct. Quite what James Newton Howard's pleasant but far from great theme from Prince of Tides is doing here is a mystery, but it gives way to a majestic rendering of one of the indisputably classic themes of the decade, Trevor Jones' Last of the Mohican's, music vastly superior to the film it supported. The album concludes with music from seven of the biggest hits of the last five years.
Independence Day was the finest slice of pure cinematic entertainment released in 1996, a film which benefited immeasurably from David Arnold's wonderful heroic score. Here the epic 'Finale' is presented with enormous drive and energy, though the complex orchestrations sometimes sound muddled, lacking the clarity of the soundtrack album. As different as can be comes the ludicrously plotted and infinitely tedious multi-Oscar winning celebration of treachery and adultery, The English Patient. Even Gabriel Yard's score was a shapeless bore, but here, to save you buying the soundtrack album, are the few minutes worth listening hearing, the genuinely mysterious and atmospheric 'As Far as Florence' and the haunting 'Rupert Bear'. The penultimate track is John Williams' 'Hymn to the Fallen', the showcase choral piece from the end titles of Saving Private Ryan. Much as Williams' score supported the film, Saving Private Ryan did find Williams at his most understated, providing little to enjoy away from the screen. 'Hymn to the Fallen' is the one moment where Williams pulled out all the stops, with a piece which is either unbearably moving, or nauseatingly sentimental, depending upon temperament. The version here is very good indeed. Now it is James Horner all the way, and with Braveheart, Apollo 13, The Mask of Zorro and Titanic to his name, it looks as if Horner is on the verge of claiming Williams crown as the king of the film music world. The 'End Titles' from Braveheart have a real cumulative power, and the 'Zorro' suite a swashbuckling zest which made the film such enormous fun (just don't mention El Cid!). Titanic seems to divide audiences like few other films, and the division extends to the music. Personally I object to the cod-Celtic approach on principle - in 1912 British music was riding the crest of a wave between Vaughan-Williams' Sea Symphony, Tintagel by Arnold Bax and Frank Bridge's The Sea suite. With such fine examples of British sea music appropriate to the period, it is surely obvious that Patrick Doyle should have been commissioned to craft something appropriately British and nautical. However, I also have to admit that if you allow yourself to surrender to the emotionalism of his score, Horner's approach works. Silva have avoided the obvious here, and rather than a version of 'Rose's Theme', offer 'Take Her to Sea, Mr Murdoch'. Such is the endless variation possible with electronic sound that any specific mixture of orchestra and electronics is virtually impossible to recreate, and certainly the version here would never be mistaken for the original. Nevertheless, it has an impact all its own, and surely everyone who likes this music has the soundtrack anyway.
So, we end with the old king of Hollywood passing the baton to the new (though I'm sure there is a lot more fine music to come from John Williams in the future) and are left to look forward to a new century of film music. Certainly it is possible to find faults with this collection, with the inclusion of certain tracks to the exclusion of others, or to point out that some succeed better than others. With so much music it would be strange if this were not the case. This though is a superb collection. The vast majority of the selections are really very good indeed, and for those with the appropriate decoders the CDs even have HDCD and Dolby Surround Sound. For around £16.95 Cinema Century 2000 offers phenomenal value, and would make a wonderful Christmas present as an introduction to the glories of film music. It also offers the opportunity to fill a considerable number of gaps in collections, especially if you would like a particular theme but don't want to buy the entire soundtrack album. Likewise, it makes a great sampler, and may lead to many more rewarding purchases. As such I can not praise this set too highly. I can't imagine anyone but the most unforgiving purist who demands only the originals regretting buying Cinema Century 2000.
Gary S. Dalkin
Rob Barnett adds:-
Silva Screen are good at this. They record new suites of film music all the time. Session after session must take place in Prague with faxes and e-mails ploughing backwards and forwards between London and the Czech Republic. New parts and arrangements seem to flood in and the logistics of such an exercise must be a constant challenge. Silva uses its catalogue in every conceivable way. A suite or segment might appear in a theme album (like the Monster album), a composer collection (say John Barry) or in a historical sweep such as the present collection.
Silvas terms of reference are quite wide and they have surprised me with their excellent British and Continental film music albums as well as reviving and re-recording scores. What they have yet to do is to cover say Australian film music or a collection of Russian film music (a vast black hole once you get past the obvious Shostakovich, Khachaturyan and Prokofiev scores) or an anthology of Japanese or Chinese film music [just issued , see October reviews- editor.]
This minimally documented (you get a date, cast list and director) 4 CD set is produced in association with Halliwells and Pocket Films Film and Cinema guide. It is compiled from a rich back catalogue and (though I am not absolutely sure about this) seems to include tracks not previously issued. The whole runs over 4 hours. The grand plan is to provide at least once score from each of the years from 1933 to 1998.
The plums for me are King Kong, Prince Valiant, Last Tango, Deer-Hunter, Body Heat, Jean de Florette, Last of the Mohicans and Saving Private Ryan.
At a special price this is a most economical way of introducing yourself to a wide range of scores some of which are old friends others of which are kind strangers.
The blind spots are inevitable but I certainly puzzled why there was no Bernard Herrmann (contractual problems?) and of course there is no deep-shelf Russian, Chinese or Japanese film music. Otherwise a most attractive compilation.
Complete track listing: [Return to Head of review]
Disc One: King Kong (Prelude) Max Steiner, The Adventures of Robin Hood (Love Theme) Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alexander Nevsky (Entry into Pskov) Sergei Prokofiev, Wuthering Heights (Cathy's Theme) Alfred Newman, The Sea Hawk (Suite) Erich Wolfgang Korngold, The Thief of Bagdad (The Love of the Princess) Miklos Rozsa, The Mark of Zorro (Overture) Alfred Newman & Hugo Friedhofer, Laura David Raksin, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Max Steiner, The War of the Worlds (Main Title/Prelude) Leith Stevens, Prince Valiant (Prelude) Franz Waxman, The Caine Mutiny (March) Max Steiner, To Catch a Thief (Suite) Lyn Murray, The Vikings (Finale) Mario Nascimbene.
Disc Two: Breakfast at Tiffany's (Moon River) Henry Mancini, The Guns of Navarone (The Legend of Navarone) Dimitri Tiomkin, El Cid (Love Theme) Miklos Rozsa, Dr. No (The James Bond Theme - Symphonic Version) Monty Norman, How The West Was Won (Prelude) Alfred Newman, Dr. Strangelove (The Bomb Run) Laurie Johnson, The Longest Day (March) Paul Anka, Hatari Baby (Elephant Walk) Henry Mancini, The Sandpiper (The Shadow of Your Smile) Johnny Mandel, The Thomas Crown Affair (The Windmills of Your Mind) Michel Legrand, Romeo and Juliet (Suite) Nino Rota, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Also Sprach Zarathustra) Richard Strauss, Once Upon A Time in The West (Man With the Harmonica), Ryan's Daughter (Suite) Maurice Jarre.
Disc Three: The Summer of '42 (The Summer Knows) Michel Legrand, Last Tango in Paris Gato Barbieri, The Godfather (The Godfather Waltz / Speak Softly Love) Nino Rota, The Way We Were Marvin Hamlish, Papillon (Out to Sea / Main Theme) Jerry Goldsmith, The Deer Hunter (Cavatina) Stanley Myers, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Finale) Jerry Goldsmith, Body Heat John Barry, Excalibur (O Fortuna - from Carmina Burana) Carl Orff, The Right Stuff (Finale) Bill Conti, The Cotton Club (Main Theme) John Barry, Jean de Florette (Theme) Jean Claude-Petit, Lethal Weapon (Meet Martin Riggs) Michael Kamen, Batman (Suite) Danny Elfman.
Disc Four: Ghost (Unchained Melody) Alex North, Basic Instinct (Theme) Jerry Goldsmith, Prince of Tides (Main Title) James Newton Howard, Last of the Mohicans (Main Theme) Trevor Jones, The Bodyguard (Love Theme) Alan Silvestri, Il Postino (Theme / The Bicycle), Braveheart (End Titles), Apollo 13 (Main Title) James Horner, Independence Day (Finale) David Arnold, The English Patient (As Far as Florence / Rupert Bear) Titanic (Take Her to Sea, Mr Murdoch) James Horner, Saving Private Ryan (Hymn to the Fallen) John Williams, The Mask of Zorro (Suite) James Horner.
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