One of the last things to expect on a Sci Fi Channel Television Series Soundtrack would be chamber music. Part of the story of the composing and performing of this work is quite tragic. The lead violinist of the Supernova Quartet Ludvig Girdland, was hit by a drunk driver about a month after the recording of “Saying Goodbye” and at the time of this writing has been in a coma for several months. Bear changed the name of the track to “A Promise To Return” and has dedicated this lovely piece to Ludvig. The quartet continues in “Allegro”, and performs an interesting variation of the theme in “Roslin and Adama”, which not only includes the quartet but a little guitar work giving it a classical/ rock style of flavor to it. At the end of “Roslin Confesses”, a sad and melancholy track, the theme and the quartet appear yet once again. While this understandably doesn’t have the complexity of a Beethoven or Shostakovich Quartet it is still quite good and developed enough to stand on its own merit. There is also a brief statement of “The Promise To Return” theme by the Supernova Quartet at the end of “Roslin Confesses”. It would be interesting at least to this reviewer to hear a more complete version of the “A Promise To Return”. Well done.

Now would you expect midi programming, drum kits, electric guitars and violins, and pounding percussion? If your answer was yes your 100% correct. The “Colonial Anthem” which is the theme from the original Battlestar Galactica by Stu Philips/Glen A. Larson is adapted and arranged by Bear starting in a solemn manner complete with Uillean Pipes, distant horns and then leading us into a proud march version of theme and ending with the pipes. Alas the budget didn’t allow for the full symphonic version complete with a full complement of woodwinds and percussion. It is still a wonderful version, one that should immediately go into the i-pod. As explained in the liner notes Bear was given use of the original sheet music by Stu Philips and even played the track for him upon completion and Stu liked it enough to give Bear an autograph!

Interested in a cooler than cool action track? Try out “Prelude to War” an extended 8 minute track. So many times in action tracks it just goes over the top with being too loud, way too much pounding percussion etc. Frankly, a lot of noise comes to mind. Not the case with this track. There is a melody quite vivace in style with a nice counter melody some percussion but definitely not over the top. Well, not too much. It is loud, but the theme is more than interesting enough to keep my attention. All in all it is a well orchestrated track.

How about a little Irish music? Try out “Reuniting The Fleet” a nice melody very smooth, a bit tragic which features some good Irish Whistle work from Eric Rigler. Want a little vocal music? This soundtrack has it in “Lords of Kobol” featuring Raya Yarbrough. “Baltar’s Dream” and “Standing In The Mud” feature some authentic sounding middle eastern ethnic music complete with the ethnic woodwinds and pipes. A nice slow dance rock style track is featured on “Pegasus”. Oh to be a teenager again! “Black Market”, yet another middle eastern style composition allows us to hear some of the fine guitar work of Steve Bartek. While this is definitely not my cup of tea, it is one that many of the younger generation will appreciate. There is a brief track featuring Richard’s Gibbs main title to Battlestar Galactica and what you have is a soundtrack that has a little bit to offer everyone: chamber type classical, rock, action, vocal, it has it all. Oh wait there is no country, big band. And while there is obviously no easy listening music it was pretty darn interesting.

Bear handles a lot of the chores in terms of orchestrating, conducting, producing, and performing. This series is his baby and it certainly shows. Recording, mixing, and editing are ably performed by Steve Kaplan and James Nelson. The one complaint would be to have had a full orchestra for the playing of the “Colonial Anthem” track, but other than that even 58 year old ears can appreciate! Recommended.

Track listing

1.

Colonial Anthem (04:02)
Battlestar Galactica theme from “Final Cut”

2.

Baltar’s Dream (02:45)
from “Valley of Darkness”

3.

Escape from the Farm (03:09)
from “The Farm”

4.

A Promise to Return (03:03)
from “The Farm” featuring Ludvig Girdland & The Supernova String Quartet

5.

Allegro (04:59)
from “Home, Part I”

6.

Martial Law (01:51)
from “Fragged”

7.

Standing in the Mud (01:45)
from “Black Market”

8.

Pegasus (02:46)
from “Pegasus”

9.

Lords of Kobol (02:50)
from “Pegasus” featuring Raya Yarbrough

10.

Somethign Dark is Coming (08:51)
from “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I”

11.

Scar (02:26)
from “Scar”

12.

Epiphanies (02:43)
from “Epiphanies”

13.

Roslin and Adama (02:49)
from “Resurrection Ship, Parts I & II”

14.

Gina Escapes (02:00)
from “Ressurection Ship, Part II”

15.

Dark Unions (02:53)
from “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II”

16.

The Cylon Prisoner (03:51)
from “Pegasus” featuring Bt4

17.

Prelude to War (08:22)
from “Pegasus” and “Resurrection Ship, Parts I & II”

18.

Reuniting the Fleet (02:45)
from “Home, Parts I & II”

19.

Roslin Confesses (02:09)
from “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II”

20.

One Year Later (01:43)
from “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II”

21.

Worthy of Survival (03:35)
from “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II”

22.

Battlestar Galactica Main Title (00:45)

23.

Black Market (05:48)
from “Black Market” featuring Steve Bartek


Total Duration: 01:17:50

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Lake House/Portman

June 24, 2006

 

"Lake House", starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, is a bit of a difficult concept to grasp, at least for this reviewer. Bullock and Reeves meet as a result of a letter in case the new owner/renter might have any questions about the lakehouse. The interesting twist in this story is they are separated by two years in time. Reeves is living in 2004 while Bullock is in 2006. This is the premise of this unusual love story which is not tied up into any neat package and little or no explanation is given as to why this is taking place. There are no professor theories, time warp explanations, accident with brain damage to put someone into a coma, nothing. You are left to your own imagination as to why this happened.

Rachel is the perfect choice for the original material. Because she is a woman she is able feel, hear, and see things differently from her male counterpoint. "The Lakehouse" track reveals the lovely main theme presented in an extended version from the strings, piano, and the woodwinds. The tranquil melody makes one feel like they are enjoying themselves at a lake house relaxing, meditating and pondering one's thoughts about life. "Pawprints" features the main melody but adds a little bit of acoustic guitar to the mix. "Sunsets" is a five minute track which features a playful theme on the strings and then on the guitar with an able assist from the saxophone before a sliding ending and then a brief reinstatement of the main theme again. "Alex's Father" is a track which is quite somber in nature until the last minute or so of the 6+ minute track where it returns yet again to the main theme this time with a slightly more upbeat positive statement from the piano. The last three tracks of the soundtrack "Wait for Me", "I Waited", and "You Waited" can be put together and form a small short story of a buildup, the alas nothing happened with the main theme, and the ending with a nice crescendo buildup. Rachel likes to repeat her theme yet, she used it in several different ways keeping it fresh and unique. In addition to her 12 tracks which total 32+ minutes, there are 5 songs which make up the first selections on the soundtrack and are used in the main and end titles for the film. Considering the plot "It's Too Late" from Carole King and "This Never Happened Before" from Paul McCartney are quite appropriate with their lyrics and fit nicely into the film as more than source music material. Alejandro Agresti, the director, used the words as key parts of the screenplay quite nicely. It is fairly easy to either listen to the songs or the score as they are not mixed together as is the case with many soundtracks.

Normally in a review of this nature cover art is seldom talked about but it is nothing short of spectacular from the concept of having Sandra Bullock in pastel color to having Keanu Reeves in black and white in the same photo with wonderful lighting while not a reason to purchase the CD is still nice nevertheless. There are no liner notes at all; just credits and pictures. A couple of well thought out paragraphs from Rachel explaining her feelings about the writing of the soundtrack would have been nice but it certainly doesn't make it sound any better! David Snell conducted a smaller size chamber ensemble (no brass) and the score was orchestrated by veteran Jeff Atmajian. The recording and mixing took place in London by another pro Chris Dibble and the result is a nice clean recording. Chris, David, and Jeff do nothing but enhance the fine work of Rachel and should all be commended for their fine work. If you see the film you will find a short cue here and there that is not included on this release. One especially of note was a soft quiet version of the main theme of the film Young At Heart. Not reviewing the film, nor wanting to give away any of it just think valentine.

Rachel Portman fans will love this CD and comes highly recommended to them. Fans of the synthesizer and percussion style scores will find none of that on this soundtrack. Think quiet, peaceful, meditation, relaxation. Rachel continues her fine tradition of Human Stain, Emma, Legend of Bagger Vance, and so many others with Lake House. You won't be disappointed in what you hear and consider the songs a nice bonus. Recommended!

Track Listing:

1. "This Never Happened Before" – Paul McCartney 3:262. "(I Can't Seem To) Make You Mine" – The Clientele 3:38

3. "Time Has Told Me" – Nick Drake 4:26

4. "Ant Farm" – Eels 2:13

5. "It's Too Late" – Carole King 3:57

6. The Lakehouse 3:17

7. Pawprints 1:21

8. Tough Week 1:09

9. Mailbox 0:59

10. Sunsets 5:01

11. Alex's Father 6:46

12. Il Mare 3:00

13. Tell Me More 2:23

14. She's Gone 1:15

15. Wait for Me 3:02

16. You Waited 1:38

17. I Waited 1:41

Total Time: 49:12

 

The original Superman March theme has always remained something special in the annuals of the silver screen. Put it in the category of Tara's Theme from Gone With The Wind, another classic theme. Neither achieved an Oscar yet both are performed in movie music compilation concerts the world over. Both are instantly recognizable by the average person on the street. While the 1978 Oscar winner Midnight Express has been long forgotten by most, the Superman theme will live forever! John Ottman has taken the March, Love, and Kent Family themes and correctly built and blended them into his original score, creating one memorable listening experience. This is one you will want to listen to over and over and over and over again and again. In one word, WOW.

Directed by the veteran Bryan "X-Men" Singer Superman Returns stars newcomer Brandon Routh as Superman who looks and speaks like Christopher Reeve, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey as a nasty Lex Luthor. The plot has thickened as Superman upon his return is now faced with the fact that Lois has stopped waiting for him or has she? The world now seems to be getting along just fine without him or is it? What evil is Luthor up to? All of these questions will be answered and more in the film.

Imagine yourself sitting in a darkened quiet theater waiting in anticipation for the film to start and you hear a brief chord from the lower register of the strings, a pause and then the chord twice again, followed again by a very brief pause and then the buildup to the wonderful march played with perfection from a 97 piece orchestra. It fills the theater entirely with its surround sound sending a chill up your spine and raising the hair on the back of your head. The orchestra, having completed its work with the march, smoothly slides into the love theme and you just know you can fly! Movie music doesn't get better than this. This is how effective this kind of music is in the main title and although the film doesn't really start this way at all one can dream. It is unfortunate that this style of music with its powerful and memorable themes is clearly the exception to the rule and the so called "landscape" type of score prevails. Perhaps the success of this film will turn enough heads for the entire process to be looked at again.

The rest of the score, while mostly John Ottman original material, does reference some of the previously written thematic material. A good example of this is in the "Memories" track. It replays the Kent Family Theme from Smallville first on the oboe in a peaceful serene setting reminiscent of Delius, hints at the Superman fanfare, then gives a fuller rendition of the Kent Theme. There is a slight hint of the march on the brass and the love theme from the flute and oboe. It ends with a magical style of underscore complete with a chorus. There was one short chord which reminded me of The Day The Earth Stood Still, but just for a brief second. Good track! "Rough Flight" is an excellent action track complete with the Psycho style string slashing dissonant sound made famous by Herrmann, used way too much in films these days but still effective. Great brass and percussion makes this an excellent cue and a good example of what a quality action cue can be like instead of the relentess pounding percussion we are familiar with. However if you listen closely you can hear a small part of "Samuel's Death" from the Legends of the Fall score written by James Horner. Apparently this particular track was used as a temp track during the filming and it just carried over a little bit into the score. Some of the other tracks of interest are "How Could You Leave Me", a 5 plus minute track that is quiet and thought provoking, interwoven with the Superman love theme. It features some nice piano, strings and choir. The final track "Reprise/Fly Away" features some nice heart felt music that is again blended with the love theme as well as the march.

The recording process today just keeps getting better and better. The original 1978 recording was good. This is outstanding! Much care went into getting the recording just so as they took 12 days to do it. The enhanced CD contains extra material including the trailers and a behind the scenes video on the scoring process. To me this is an extra topping to the music. My computer was not able to access the music part of the CD. The video portions were quite accessible and the music portion worked fine in three different cd players. Not sure if this will be an issue for anyone or not. Just reporting the facts!

The new material that Ottman wrote for the score is interesting enough but still in that vast area of "landscape" music. Frankly, the new themes or motifs that were composed are nothing that grab your attention. Put them in the category of being good but not great. The original material is unforgettable to this reviewer and the way that it was incorporated into the new material was extremely well done and based on that it is recommended.

Score orchestrated by John Ottman and Damon Intrabartolo

Orchestra conducted by Damon Intrabartolo

Track Listing:

1. Main Titles (3:48)

2. Memories (3:05)

3. Rough Flight (5:12)

4. Little Secrets/Power of the Sun (2:37)

5. Bank Job (2:19)

6. How Could You Leave Us? (5:45)

7. Tell Me Everything (3:11)

8. You'e Not One of Them (2:24)

9. Not Like The Train Set (5:11)

10. So Long Superman (5:29)

11. The People You Care For (3:25)

12. I Wanted You To Know (2:54)

13. Saving The World (3:09)

14. In The Hands Of Mortal (2:09)

15. Reprise/Fly Away (4:15)

Total Time is 55:08 not including the video material

 

GNP Crescendo released in 1992 The Best Of Mission: Impossible Then and Now, a combination of shows from the original television series of 1966-1972, the remake of the series composed by John E. Davis in 1988-1990, and a special recording of the main and plot theme with the Israeli Philharmonic from 1992. In addition as a bonus there is a 15 minute interview with Peter Graves by the executive producer of the album Neil Norman. The first 17 tracks are devoted to music from the original television series, ones written by Lalo Schifrin. They are from episodes aired in 1968 "The Contender" Pt. 1, 1970 "The Submarine", 1970 "The Killer", 1971 "Takeover", and 1972 "Underground." A lot of

"The Plot" and "Mission: Impossible Main Title" themes in a wide variety of styles, themes, and variations are used. Also keep in mind that there were other composers such as Gerald Fried, Kenyon Hopkins, and Jerry Fielding who worked on particular episodes but this recording only includes material from either Lalo or John. The included episodes are just some of the ones that Lalo worked on. He also played piano, harpsichord, and did the arranging for the material. The original arrangement (DLP 25831) for "The Plot" was a march and that style is used in "The Contender" to start with. It switches to a solo bass, a little bit of jazz style with brass, a flute solo of it, and on and on. "The Bower Hotel" is an interesting track in that you can actually hear some parts of "Ice Pick Mike" from Bullitt in it as well as in the next track "Check Out Time." For those of you who are not familiar this is the track that was played during the cat and mouse sequence before the famous car chase! In fact several of the tracks on this recording have a familiar flavor to Bullitt yet another Schfirin soundtrack for you to explore if you haven't already done so. "The Trick" has yet another familiar melody built into part of it and that is "Jim On The Move" from the original Dot LP which was previously discussed in the review of that album. The track starts with a nice rendition of the main title on the flute and bass and then slowly slides into the "Jim On The Move" theme still teasing with the main title. This is an excellent track! "Tape Machine" is a nice jazz theme with some electric guitar improvisation in a simple but effective melody. The first part of the CD ends as it began with a short rendition of the main theme and then we hear original John E. Davis music as well as his arrangement of Mission Impossible. It is a lot more electronic sounding with louder pulsating percussion quite a departure from the Schifrin arrangements which frankly had that cool jazz sound. In fact, had there not been a return to the "Plot" and "Main Title" themes the underscore music could have come from any number of other venues, as it is quite generic in nature. That is not saying it is good or bad but quite different. Some of this could be the time John spent with such groups as Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and others. Remember too Lalo came from the famous Dizzy Gillespie ensemble and jazz was his bread and butter but a different style from what John was used to.

The final track is a rousing 6+ minute live rendition of "The Plot" and "The Main Title" featuring excellent piano and drums from the Israeli Philharmonic. While many times so called pop arrangements can be quite flat and uninspiring this one has a lot more to offer in terms of a good toe tapping version, complete with quite a little bit of crowd noise. The liner notes don't say if it was Schifrin himself who played the piano solo, but regardless it was excellent. Given the fact that the original lp would be a bit more of a task to locate, this CD still being available from GNP at an excellent price, is a perfect way to go to introduce some of the original music to your collection of soundtracks. One minor complaint from me would be the sequencing. I would have put the interview as the last track giving it some separation from the rest of the CD as opposed to placing it between the end of the John Davis tracks and the Israeli Philharmonic track. Recommended

Stay Alive

by

John Frizzell

The poster of this new film shows, at least for me, a classic picture of the tag on the toe in the morgue immediately reminding me of the edited corpse scene from "Sunset Boulevard." The title of the film immediately conjured up the melody from the John Travolta "Staying Alive" film which I started humming and stayed in my brain for quite sometime. Neither statement could be further from the truth! This is neither drama or disco music but a horror score blended with electronic and traditional orchestral music from a familiar genre to the composer John Frizzell, who has previously written scores for "Cradle to the Grave" and "Ghost Ship" among others. The target market is the younger "video gamer" generation as the story is about a game called "Stay Alive" which chronicles the story of a 17th century noblewoman "The Blood Countess." As the gamers begin to be murdered one by one exactly like the video game the adventure begins as they begin to put the connection together. Directed and co-written by William Brent Bell, a relative newcomer in the directing field, box office figures indicate he has hit his market correctly and will likely be heard from down the road. For those of you who are interested in trivia, this was the final film production done in New Orleans before hurricane Katrina struck.

As a reviewer who has listened to film scores for 45+ years the newer electronics never cease to amaze me! Electronics have certainly evolved from the theremin and the moog synthesizer with the sampling, resampling, in tune, out of tune, forward and backwards techniques this Logic Pro sequencing software can generate! In today's world a composer should not only have a degree in music but also one in computer programming, something which John seems to be quite comfortable with. Yet he has also mixed the standard chamber style music to produce a score worthy of more than one or two listens. An excellent example of the blending can be found in the track "playing the game" which has dissonant strings, the sounds of bats flying, soft piano, and wierd sound effects in the cue that complement the film. The tracks "mourning phinn" and "butch's story" reveal the influence that James Newton Howard must have had on John. You notice it in the harmony of the strings which complement the softer sounding keyboard cues. John worked with James on both "Dante's Peak" and "The Rick Man's Wife" and while the overall styles are completely different, the influence is quite evident. No horror score is complete unless it has some slashing strings and this one is no exception as it starts off right away on the first track with "enter the house" a combination of electronics and James Bernard/Bernard Herrmann style of frantic type music. "Winning by a rose" has some insect swarm music, something which Jerry Goldsmith made famous in "The Swarm." In fact what would horror music be like without the influences of Goldsmith and Herrmann?

This recording is the very first release on the Nicabella label and according to the press release sent with my review copy it is a special limited collector's edition of 1,000 copies so earlier rather than later would be a good time to purchase this recording. Some of the recording information is a bit sketchy such as who conducted the orchestra, who was the orchestra, recording dates etc. While the track listing includes the individual time plus the total time, I found the artwork used quite difficult to read and had to strain my eyes to make out the exact wording of the track titles. These however are minor disagreements and shouldn't prevent you from giving this score a try. While "Some music I just don't understand" was my initial reaction to this score, repeated listens, something which a good reviewer has to do, revealed quite a deeper understanding as to what John was attempting to accomplish. Recommended.

Produced by Ray Costa & John Frizzell

Album Consultant Ford A. Thaxton

Engineered by Cenda Kotzman at CNSO in Prague

Mixed by Frederik Wiedman and Micha Liberman

Track listing

1. Enter The House (01:51)

2. Loomi’s Funeral (02:18)

3. Playing The Game (06:03)

4. Finn Plays Alone (01:55)

5. Strange Things… (01:21)

6. Investigation (03:01)

7. Phinn Dies (01:21)

8. Mourning Phinn (02:04)

9. Hutch’s Story (01:39)

10. Loomi’s House (02:07)

11. Meet The Counters (02:34)

12. End Of October (01:10)

13. Winning By A Rose (03:25)

14. Abigail Is Captured (01:39)

15. Going Below (02:05)

16. Countess And Abigail (01:36)

17. Final Encounter (02:12)

18. In Stores Now (00:45)

Total Duration: 00:39:06

Track listing

 

In 1966 Lalo was quite active in both television and films. In addition to Mission: Impossible he scored the Dean Martin film Murderer's Row, Doomsday Flight a made for TV film, T.H.E. Cat a television series, and Way… Way Out for Hollywood. 168 episodes were filmed between 1966-1973 during which time the show was nominated for 17 emmy and golden globe awards with 8 wins including a grammy to Lalo in 1968 for his unique score. The Bruce Geller creation in addition to the cast of Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain (wife of Martin), Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus also featured such notables as Leonard Nimoy, Sam Elliott, Lynda Day-George, Lesley Ann Warren, and Barbara Anderson. The theme released as a single in 1968 was on the Billboard Top 100 chart for 14 weeks in 1968. The theme, like Dragnet or Perry Mason is synonymous with Mission Impossible and has carried over to a second tv series and now three movies. The theme has been used in countless sound bites, commercials, and is quite popular on telephone answering machines, making Mr. Schifrin a lot of money.

Recorded on October 4-7 in 1967 the orchestra featured a star studded lineup of jazz musicians such as the likes of Ray Brown, George Roberts, Ronnie Lang, Mike Melvoin, and Vincent De Rosa. In addition to the infamous main theme, "The Plot" was also recorded and has ended up being used almost as much as the main Mission: Impossible theme! Featuring the brass carrying the melody with harmony being provided by the harpsichord this theme actually did not originate from this television series but a series called Jericho. Available on the Film Score Monthly label FSM Vol. 8 No. 6, "The Upbeat and Underground" track while not copied note for note is lets say a variation on a theme of "The Plot." On this Dot LP the five main characters Jim, Rollin, Cinnamon, Barney, and Willy all had themes or leitmotifs written for them. Cinnamon's theme called "The Lady Was Made To Be Loved" was not written by Lalo but by the series creator Bruce Geller along with help from Jack Urbont. It is a nice romantic song featuring the alto sax of Bud Shank and written close enough in style to what Schfirin might have written to blend in nicely to the album. "Operation Charm" is something that reminds me of the style of Nelson Riddle with the muted trumpets harmonizing with the orchestra and the piano solo featuring Lalo Schifrin. "The Sniper" is a quicker tempo with just a hint of "The Plot" theme played by the strings but it quickly moves into a showpiece for Bill Plummer on Sitar an instrument quite in vogue during this time period. It is also playing along with a neat harpsichord solo by Lalo Schfirin. The beginning of "Barney Does It All" is quite reminiscent of the same style of music featured in Bullitt, as is "Mission Accomplished" with the exception that it ends as the album began with the Mission Impossible main title. The overall feel of the album is the 60's with that light jazzy percussion emphasized style of music. Through in a little sitar and harpsichord and you have some classic Lalo Schfirin from this time era. As noted by the creator Bruce Geller "when the main title of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was made, it was built around the music, not scored afterwards." Usually of course it is the other way around! Even some of the other sequences have been handled the same way-the music dictating the editing.

Discography:

Dot DLP 25831 is the recording that is referred to in this article.  However, the music has been reissued on Hip-O Records HIPD-40021 and also MCA MCD 80069 with two additional tracks.  I would recommend that you try and find any of these recordings as they are an excellent starting point to the wonderful world of Mission Impossible music. 

The next recording of note is The Best Of Mission Impossible GNP 8029 Crescendo records.  This will be discussed in part no. 2 as this recording is still available.

 http://store.gnpcrescendo.com/product_info.php?products_id=271&osCsid=9c1e630d3cf2795dbd4c25aa7f813219