Christmas With A Capitol C

December 17, 2017

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‘It’s interesting how fate brings people together, and how it can gently,
almost imperceptibly, help us make our dreams come true.
I had always wanted to write Christmas music. The holiday season has
produced some of the best tunes ever written, and it inspired the great
John Williams to write the absolutely magical melody for the Christmas
classic, “Somewhere in My Memory.”
Had it not been for another composer having to drop out of scoring the
internet series, The Interior, I may have never met director Helmut Schleppi.
Helmut trusts the people he works with. Soft-spoken, always encouraging,
with a twinkle in his eye. That was the creative environment that made my
music for Christmas with a Capital C possible. But as with every project,
there were challenges … good ones!
While thinking about the story my music needed to tell, I had an idea for a main
theme. Excitedly, I worked on a demo, asking my friend, composer Ciarán Hope,
to record a clarinet part for me (track #17 on this album). Helmut wasn’t a big
fan of the melody. The post-production schedule required that I work on some
other scenes which would not feature the main theme, while at the same time
cracking the thematic code that would be right for this movie. Tick-tock. In the
process, I had an epiphany: My initial theme was too repetitive and too long; the
first four notes get repeated several times, and the third and fourth note have the
same pitch. This story needed something much more distinct. How does one
go about finding that? As a general rule, a melody becomes more distinct the
more different pitches it includes and the more rhythmic variety it has. So, I
created piano sketches of five more themes with the objective to avoid the
repetition of any pitch, as much as possible. Helmut loved one of those
sketches. We had our main theme, and writing the rest of the music happened
fairly quickly. I am so thankful for having gone through that process as it really
improved the score overall.’ This is a well written passage written by the composer I chose to include in the review.

When I was approached by the producer to review the material I thought… another xmas release of xmas songs with hokey arrangements. Was I ever surprised! It was a soundtrack release and it was filled with all sorts of melodies, themes, and styles. “Journey to Trapper Falls,” is a beautiful main theme introduced on the harp and then nicely carried by the piano. The flute is given a small chance in the second track “Rivals.” “My Country” is a twangy piece with loud guitar, harmonica, Jews harp but at the end there is a hint to the return of the main theme. It is a theme to be repeated often. In fact my two favorite tracks were alternate and didn’t appear in the movie. I somewhat understand the new system, just don’t agree with it.

 

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Riddle Collection 1941-1962

November 10, 2017

Mummy’s Curse

August 30, 2017

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The fifth in the series and the last one if we don’t count the Abbott and Costello is actually a good one which goes against many viewers and film critics. I like the film even though many questions are left up in the air such as how did Kharis get to the bayou from Massachusetts? How did Ananka get there? The cast of Coe, Kosleck, Christine, and Katch all did a good job in their roles. The scary parts such Anaka (Christine) slowly coming out of the mud was down right creepy. The to be Folgers lady did well. The background music of Paul Sawtell combined his material with material written by Salter and Skinner was a  nice change if you listen carefully to the music like I do. There are new cues mixed in with the familiar cues you’re use to hearing including a new song “Hey, You” sung by one of the character actors ,Codee. Holmes Herbert also has a small role a fine character I know and has appeared in many films including three of the Sherlock Holmes films. This film was done on location in Bajou Louisiana. Easily watchable on you tube and other sites it’s a farewell ending except is their another sequel in the works?

Unforgiven

August 7, 2017

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  1. Claudia’s Theme
  2. Will Looks Off
  3. Davey Leading Horses
  4. Pony for the Lady
  5. Bucket of Water
  6. Claudia’s Theme 2
  7. Bill Clips Bob
  8. Headstone and Flowers
  9. Claudia’s Theme 3
  10. Give It To Him
  11. It’s Self Defense
  12. Claudia’s Theme 4
  13. Get Up
  14. Reload This
  15. Claudia’s Theme 5
  16. Shave and a Haircut
  17. Will Rides In
  18. Claudia’s Theme 6
  19. Villainous Friends
  20. He Oughta’ Get Shot
  21. Claudia’s Theme 7
  22. Ned’s Body/Shotgun Appears
  23. Burn His House Down
  24. Claudia’s Theme 8
VARÈSE SARABANDE RECORDS ANNOUNCES NEW COLLECTABLE LP PACKAGES AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT BARNES & NOBLE ON AUGUST 11th
First Ever Vinyl Release of UNFORGIVEN Limited Edition Prairie Sand Vinyl (1000 units)
Clint Eastwood won many awards (4 Oscars) for his film and it is one that I have in my film collection, having watched it a number of times. To be honest I paid no attention to the source music until I was given a digital copy of he material which came directly from the limited ediion lp as there was a very slight noise in the background but no distracting in any way. You’ll get your own noise once you start playing if you choose to do so. The price is a modest $24.99. In the 24 tracks there are eight different versions of Claudia’s theme (written by Clint Eastwood)  the last being the best of them but the underscore material is very strong and I’m really surprised that the music wasn’t nominated at all.
 Tracks that I enjoyed listening to over and over again were “Headstones and Flowers,”
a short piece featuring the hamonica. There is a little bit of old time piano in “Shave and a Haircut.” “Ned’s Body” gives us a bit of almost dreamlike material but we know what is going to happen on the screen. “Burn His House Down” is another background track that I like as it has a hint of Claudias theme going on. This is also true of other tracks.
The purpose of this review is to make it known that the vinyl release is going to be on Friday so if you want one I’d stay up late on Thursday night and order it at 12:01 on Friday as I’m sure they will go fast.

El Pueblo del Sol

August 6, 2017

 

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Written in 1981 for a Mexican documentary (20 minutes) this short which I’ve never seen is a travel documentary about many places in our neighbor to the south. The eleven tracks total forty minutes so we can assume Lee wrote plenty of extra material so much of his score ending up on the cutting floor. This material is a re-release of the Bay Cities BCD 1031 CD complete with noaddition of any material.

The first track, “Fiesta Del Sol,” was a bit of a surprise to me as I expected something hispanic perhaps in the vein of Copland’s El Mexico Salon  but this had more of a majestic sound like a Goldsmith melody. The cue begins with a fanfare from the horns with the trombones offering support. The strings takeover with a sweet sound but the melody is given back to the horns for another round. There is a secondary melody with harp in the background but the material segues back to the main melody as the track ends. This is good stuff!

“Latir de Progresso,” is the main theme again with a twist. It is not until we get into the “Paisajes” do we hear a few bars of hispanic style in the nature section of the material. His treatment of the industry part is recognizable with a bit of pounding but still pretty quiet. “Mosaico Turistico” has a hint of where we are but it isn’t until “Suenos” do we know that this is hispanic culture with the sweet strings almost overpowering it. “Origines” and “Estampas Historicas” take you on musical journies of the past with a cavalry charge, a lovely waltz and other musical motifs. “La Gran Tenochitian” is more of what I expected to hear in the score as the trumpets are announcing their arrival.”Cuadro Final” is divided into four parts and right away we hear the main theme with interesting harmony to depict the mysterious skies, lower tones and grumbling from the oboe. There is a nostalgic serenade, a upbeat one, and a return to the main melody, the dominant theme of the score. When you listen to this forty minute score you won’t hear what you might be expecting but more of a typical Hollywood score of the eighties. As I said before not having seen the film it is hard to comment on some of it. I can only really talk about what I heard and the orty minutes wen by quickly and I heard a variety of different kinds of sound.

 

August 5, 2017

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“Scenes of Summer” is a relatively short 10 minute work depicting three summer scene. The first a presto, is a festival with much activity going  on. The melody is offered by the strings with harmony offered by the brass. As the title indicates it is very lively and in a few words something to awaken you in the morning.  “Countryside” is an andante, very deliberate theme that slowly builds. It is repeated again and according to Lee, who wrote the entire work in less than two weeks as a filler for an album in 1973 is a ‘afternoon walk.’ The third movement “Dance”  is once again an Allegro tempo which again according to Lee ‘an evening in a town square.’Originally released on the Citadel label this is re-release of this materialmade available for those who are younger and never had the opportunity to purchase it in the 80’s. It is the same material and the sound of the recordings are similiar on my modest system I have since my move to my new apartment. The seven selections are but a partial portion of his output of classical material.

Written in 1974 as an one-act opera it is a biblical piece about Lazarus, who died but was raised from the dead after four days (John ch. 12). It was an inspiring piece to write about and maybe someday I’ll be able to see the opera performed.

In 1977 Holdridge wrote his second violin concerto and i’m happy to say that overall it is pretty good and will take it’s place in my collection proudly. I’m reminded of Rozsa’s style but it is only a reminder.

The Albinoni adagio is a famous one and is is somewhat like the Barber work “Adagio For Strings” but much shorter in length. It is a sad piece and could have been used in many films if Lee had chosen to do so.

The “Andante For Orchestra,” “Ballet for Strings and Harp,” and “Grand Waltz for Strings” round out the works and are pieces that are on the softer side and would be good ones to play when you’re thinking.

Overall, I like this album and all of you who enjoy Holdridge will want this album in your collection. From a classical point of view it is definitely written in the style of the 19th century romantic composer. It is filled with melody.

 

 

 

 

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When I think of Lee Holdridge my thoughts go back to the days of Korngold, Steiner and others who wrote real tunes that one could hum when you left the theater.  Some of the soundtracks today are so bad that I have ear plugs for the theater to watch the film. All seven of the films/documentaries that were selected have themes and if you listen carefully you’ll remember them, they’re really nice, well developed with proper harmony and simple but effective orchestrations.

“Beastmaster” has a title theme that is not like the title at all but a theme that seems to sound more like a science fition film. The second theme is soft and dainty, probably a love theme. Lee makes reference to the main title. The third theme is a heroic version of the main theme with underscore material. The suite ends as it begins with the majestic horns of the main title once again. “Wizards and Warriors” is just Overture and it has a similiar sound to” The Beastmaster.” It begins with an introduction followed by a main theme and then a soft passage which is underscore without any strong theme. It returns to the main theme which is played by the brass (trumpets and trombones).

By far the best of the material on this CD is the wonderful theme he created for the mini series “East of Eden.” In between the main theme it is filled with good underscore, something you can listen to over and over again. The seventeen minute suite is a good one and I’ll return to it often.

“The Hemingway Play” and “Great Whales” are two more themes of note with the whales theme being the stronger of the two. A proud and majestic one hat one canlisten to over and over again.

This CD is a radical departure from what you’re use to listening to in the modern day themeless material which is only written to stir up your emotions. If you don’t have this one (previously released on Citadel and Varese pick up a copy.