June 9, 2013
“Lost Continent” is coupled with “Hellgate” which will be released as a separate review, both works composed by Paul Dunlap in the early 50’s. Offering an all star cast of ‘B’ supporting actors which included Cesar Romero, Hillary Brooke, Chick Chandler, John Hoyt, Acquanetta, Sid Melton, Whit Bissell, and Hugh Beaumont, the dynamic duo of Sigmond Neufeld and Sam Newfield produced and directed it for Lippert. I’ve likely seen most of their pictures, at least 150 of them as they were Producers Releasing Corporation at one time. Neufeld was considered to be “America’s most prolific sound director who also went under the name of Sherman Scott and Peter Stewart as he did so many pictures that people wouldn’t believe it was possible for one man to do so many films.
“Lost Continent” was loosely based on the Conan A. Doyle novel “The Lost World” as it told a story about a rocket crashing on a remote desert island filled with prehistoric creatures. By todays standards the special effects aren’t very good but it was stop motion animation and when your only a few years old as I was it made a big impression on me. Today when I watch the film I get bored at all of the rock climbing sequences and wish they would end.
Paul Dunlap who worked most of his life in the ‘B’ movies was actually given a budget to work with for this film and he compiled a 47 piece orchestra. He truly did write and orchestrate a score that enhanced the low budget film to the point of making it a watchable (without rock climbing) film. The story of how the recorded material came to the surface is nicely explained in the liner notes. You’ll notice and understand why there were no end titles. The notes as is always the case with a MMM recording are superb, in fact better than the music sometimes. You realize the great care and number of hours that go into one of his releases.
The Main Title, a theme which is used in several cues throughout the soundtrack begins with a brass statement that is somewhat dissonant and brash but does offer a melody that is recognizable. I’ve included this cue as an audio clip.
This limited edition of 500 is an archival mono recording and you’ll hear little pops and hiss in the background. Be grateful that MMM made the time and effort to bring to CD a nearly forgotten exposure. I like it.
Love Theme, No. 1 (00:28)
Love Theme, No. 2 (00:38)
Tracks 38-54 from LOST CONTINENT (1951), Total Time - 27:39
Music composed by Paul Dunlap
June 4, 2013
I was first introduced to David Raksin with his classic theme to the Otto Preminger film “Laura” which I played in high school band. It was a favorite of many including myself. In 1968 I purchased DOT LP #DLP 25844 which featured music from the film “Will Penny” as well as tracks from the film “Too Late Blues” starring Bobby Darin, a musical talent in another style (“Mack The Knife among many) and was quite taken with the melodies and arrangements. To my knowledge this LP has never been remastered onto a CD. The titles of cues are different such as “Sambalero” becomes “Flugelhorn Samba” on the lp and “Mother Time” is “How Shall We Begin” on the lp. Like Henry Mancini did David extracted the main material from the soundtrack and arranged the orchestration in an easy listening sweet band format. It had a jazzy touch but the dance template arrangements were very evident. Kritzerland’s latest release is the original soundtrack material as well as many of the jazz outtakes, source music (written by Raksin), long takes, short takes, and alternate takes. Again like Henry Mancini David Raksin liked to write original material for source music such as a radio or jukebox. It results in a smooth continuity of the material as the orchestral style is the same from track to track. His style, especially the underscore, has an edge to it almost instantly recognizable to the Raksin fan. The minor string chords at times remind me of Andre Previn (both worked for 20th Century Fox under Al Newman). “Wither Thou, Ghost” is a good example of his style. “A Song After Sundown” is the featured melody and is heard with lush strings, sax, and trumpet in “Theme from Too Late Blues.” It is included as an audio clip. Please remember that these clips are fairly low quality to save space on the web site.
| Track listing
As part of their 40th year anniversary Delos Music is offering a 3 CD set of 40 tracks for $16.99 with an additional thirteen encore selections available as a separate digital download through their website www.delosmusic.com for $11.99 in July 2013.
Beginning in 1973 with an LP recording of the Scarlatti Sonatas performed by brilliant Harpsichordist Malcolm Hamilton who Sir John Barbirolli was quoted as saying that “Malcolm is doubtless Bach’s twenty first child” is still available as a 2 for 1 on Delos CD 1001 but not included in the celebration release.
The program on the release is as varied as the Delos catalog has been over the last 40 years with a specific program or theme for each of the three CD’s. Number one concentrates on orchestral material, number two are great soloists performing arias, and the final CD is made up of soloists. From the VRR recordings of the recording engineer John Eargle to the fine recordings of James DePriest it is all included in this nearly four hour compilation of material which leaves no stone unturned. I hope you’ll enjoy this release as much as I do. It might just encourage you to explore the world of Delos.
1… Shostakovich: Festive Overture, Op. 96 (5:59)
2… Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95
3… Shostakovich: Ballet Suite No. 1 (1:32)
4… Khachaturian: Spartacus (8:46)
5… Korngold: The Sea Hawk (7:59)
6… Hanson: Fantasy-Variations on a Theme of Youth (11:42)
7… Copland: Lincoln Portrait (14:26)
8… Hovhaness: Prayer of St. Gregory (4:47)
9… Hovhaness: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (13:48)
1… Cilea: Adriana Acerbua (4:07)
2… LeonCavallo: Pagliacci (5:38)
3… Verdi: ll Trovatore (5:41)
4… Verdi: ll Trovatore (7:50)
5… Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (7:56)
6… Villa-Lobos: Forest of the Amazon (3:38)
7… Handel: Rinaldo (4:01)
8… Arensky: Raffaello (10:43)
9… Pakhmutova: Tenderness (2:54)
10. Copland: Pastorale (2:27)
11. Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress (2:40)
12. Abel: The Dream Gallery (11:39)
13. Feel the Spirit (2:37)
14. Going to Chicago Blues (Rushing and Basie) (4:51)
1… Prokofiev: March in B-flat major (2:10)
2… Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite (1:01)
3… Back Violin Sonata 3 (2:32)
4… Mozart: Clarinet Concerto (7:56)
5… Griffes: Roman Sketches (3:41)
6… Miao Mountain Morning (3:53)
7… Albeniz: Iberia (4:50)
8… Ravel:Rapsodie espagnole (6:00)
9… Debussy: Sonata for Flute (4:33)
10… Durufle: Requiem (3:27)
11… Rachmaninoff: Vespers (3:47)
12… Rachmaninoff: Vocalise (3:47)
13… Bunch: String Circle (4:26)
14… Kodaly: Sonata for Cello (10:37)
15… Shostakovich: Concerto for Violin (4:50)
16… Piazzolla: Oblivion (3:51)
17… El Diablo Suelto: Fernandez (4:16)
May 19, 2013
This Willard (2003) starring Crispin Clover and Laura Elena Harring is the remake of the 1971 version that starred Bruce Davison, Ernest Borgnine, Elsa Lanchester, and Sondra Locke with musical score by Alex North. The North score was never released and the only way to listen to it is to purchase the movie which is still available.
Shirley Walker (1945-2006), composer of the remake, who was known for her orchestral arranging talents and behind the scenes work certainly showed that maybe she should have been given more opportunities to compose but that is probably a story itself and left for another article.
While I was reading the John Takis notes before going to sleep I was so intrigued about the explanation of the orchestration I had to put it on first thing in the morning to listen to it. I was immediately impressed with what I heard. Not only did I hear the style of Herrmann (who better to learn from) but an arrangement which used 5 accordions and a bass accordion. As the track continues we are treated to creepy xylophone bars (like Herrmann) difficult triple tonguing trumpet phrases and all around one of a creepy tone we just know is going to scare us. All of this in just the first three minute!
The main title is repeated often throughout the remainder of the 51 minute score. The second track “Rats in the Basement” continues with the main title along with a hint of Dies Irae (Ben’s Theme) to provide an even more haunting effect. “Willard Checks Traps” is a short cue with shimmering strings followed by a repeat of the main title. “Demoted/Mr. Martin” clearly features the Dies Irae theme again. If you’re looking for a quiet track featuring a recorder and a major chord with a somewhat romantic oboe certainly not what you’d expect to hear if the previous tracks were any indication. The Socrates theme is the one exception in the score as it represents whatever love interest with Willard there might be in the film. “What Can We Do/That’s Not a Mouse” features some nifty brass passages that are nicely complemented with tremolo strings. A couple of the phrases are jazz like which did grab my attention. “Rats Chase Willard” is another track featuring the pounding pulsating relentless brass. The Ben theme is present along with slow tension building music. “End Credits” is a winding down of this roller coaster score with some quiet thought provoking music.
If you’re not into scary type music this is definitely one you can pass on as it won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you are into scary material you’ll find this to be one of the creepier ones you’ve ever heard. I’ve included an audio clip of the main title as a sampler.
As with many of the La-La Land releases this is a limited edition of 3000 units so while I anticipate stock for a time these recordings have a way of selling out. The John Takis notes and track analysis are on par with the best!
Total Duration: 00:50:13
May 12, 2013
Continuing her series on performing soundtrack material for solo piano Joohyun Park chose the minimalist composer Michael Nyman offering selections from seven different films including his award winning film The Piano (seven tracks) as well as material from Carrington, The Diary of Anne Frank, Drowning By Numbers, Enemy Zero, A Zed & Two Noughts, and Gattaca. Her previous album The Music of Battlestar Galactica, I found to be quite stimulating, well performed and recorded. She has also contributed to two compilation albums Goldsmith Rarities and Halloween Horror Hits also for BSX.
Although we must consider The Piano to be his soundtrack that gave him name recognition with the general public Nyman has stayed quite busy with composing, having done over 40 films. In fact when he was a critic in the 70’s he coined the phrase minimalist as the style of his way of writing music. Like his contemporary Philip Glass each track is based on the repetition and gradual alteration of short rhythmic statements that may also be melodic phrases. My first encounter with this minimalist type of style was quite negative as I thought it was little more than a series of chords which somehow didn’t seem to connect together. I also thought it was a twelve tone style which also made no sense to me at all. But perseverance and listening to many different works has changed my outlook and today I can say that I rather enjoy listening to this style of music. If your new to this style of music give it a chance and you may very well change your mind like I did.
The first six selections are from The Piano and will take you through the full gamut of emotions. It begins with “Big My Secret” which is a joyous and bright major key melody filled with endless chords. “Silver Fingered Fling” begins quietly with a melody that is repeated but quickly changes to forceful staccato chords of suppressed emotion before returning to a quiet period hinting at her roots. “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” definitely has Scottish feelings conveying her emotions with the two suitors in her life. Carefree, frolicking, and gaiety are the words to describe “Ship and Tides” from the film Drowning By Numbers. I’ve included this track as an audio clip.
Good speakers or headphones will bring out the finely tuned piano of Park’s which enhances this recording even more. While this recording is not for everyone’s taste people who know and appreciate Nyman will find this CD stimulating.
1… Big My Secret (2:46)
2… The Mood That Passes Through You (2:03)
3… Deep Sleep Playing (2:16)
4… Silver Fingered Fling (3:45)
5… The Attraction of the Pedaling Ankle (6:00)
6… The Heart Asks Pleasure First (2:34)
7… Fly Drive (0:52)
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
8… If (5:08)
9… The School Room (2:58)
DROWNING BY NUMBERS
10… Ship and Titles (2:22) (AUDIO CLIP)
11… Digital Tragedy (1:06)
12… Love (2:50)
ZED & TWO NOUGHTS
13… Time Lapse (3:33)
14… Tomorrow (3:13)
15… Departure (2:47)
16… Lost and Found (2:33)
TOTAL TIME IS 46:39
April 27, 2013
SILVA SILCD 1421
Entering the wonderful world of film music with the score to the independent movie The Weekend (1999) starring Brooke Shields and Gena Rowlands lead to her discovery by the 5th Beatle Sir George Martin, who quickly began producing her material and vaulted her into stardom to the point where she is in high demand. Her ethereal side, which is quite necessary in the world of documentary soundtracks, is balanced with sounds of slide and Spanish guitar, percussion, and strong brass when called for. It is the harp which first got my attention on this Richard Attenborough 6 part series on Africa for BBC Earth. Sarah has taken her place alongside of Gunning, North, and Barry who has produced must have scores about Africa for your collection.
Class has written a score that is as varied as the weather and animals of Africa itself. Just when you’re settled in with the soft strings, quiet piano, and delicate harp the music will do a 180 on you and open your sleepy eyelids. “Mystery Path” begins very quiet and peaceful with wordless choir in the background, harp, and percussion that compliments the track. Suddenly the style switches to a comical motif style from a silent film with a bassoon offering the melody. “Giraffe vs. Giraffe” with its guitar, pipes, and solo trumpet puts you right in the middle of a Morricone western film. “Beauty of Aguillus Sands” is a proud and majestic theme with ascending major chords that shows the positive side of the desert. “Leopard Mirage” is a mixture of the quiet and the Morricone guitar, the feminine and the masculine sounds blended together. The opening track “Journey of the King Fish” doesn’t sound like anything you would expect from a series on Africa but more like the Barry theme for Out of Africa. Piano and oboe give this track a feeling of sadness. Each track is a story within a story with no thread to tie them all together as is sometimes done with the end credits.
Elizabeth Purnell conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra with orchestrations also by Purnell. This CD will appeal to many age groups and comes with my recommendation.
Total Duration: 01:08:03
April 23, 2013
Franz Waxman (1909-1967), well known Hollywood composer for such films as Sunset Boulevard, Taras Bulba, and Rebecca was also involved in the world of classical music conducting a series of concerts in Los Angeles beginning in 1947, the year he arranged the music of Carmen for violin and orchestra for the film Humoresque (1947) starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield. Originally to be performed by Heifetz it was played by a young Isaac Stern (his hands are photographed for the movie).
Carmen, composed by George Bizet (1838-1875), has turned out to be one of the more successful operas of all time with melodies that fit perfectly into this compilation to showcase some virtuoso violin playing. The orchestration was completed by his close friend Ernest Guiraud who completed the work as instructed by Bizet. Not too long after his Bizet’s death violinist Navascuez wrote a fantasy for violin and orchestra based on themes and often incorrectly given credit for the Waxman arrangement which is the preferred arrangement.
While the recording of choice for many is the RCA CD with Heifetz don’t overlook this new D’Alba release on Warner Brothers with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by John Axelrod. Her technique reveals a flawless performance without the showmanship of Heifetz. There is a delicacy, flowing and lightness that Heifetz has failed to find in his recording. The Swiss born D’Alba also includes Porgy and Bess and Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium on her “American Serenade” CD. The other bonus to this CD is the digital recording which seems to have found a good balance between the violin and the orchestra. Each note or phrase is distinct and easy to hear and the yet the orchestra doesn’t seem too distant as I’ve heard on other recordings.
Available as a download on Classics Online or purchase at your store of choice this is one to consider for your collection. I wasn’t disappointed and I’m sure you won’t be either. Recommended