Scoop/Various Artists

July 25, 2006

Scoop

by

Tchaikovsky, J. Strauss Jr., Khachaturian, Grieg, Cugat, and Lanin

 

Starring Woody Allen (also writer and director), Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Ian McShane, Scoop is the comedic story of a student journalist (Johansson) visiting London. Joe Strombel (McShane) is dead but can be seen by Scarlet and Joe reveals his “the Tarot Card Killer” scoop of a lifetime and the chase is on. To add to the humor she talks Splendini (Allen), a magician, into helping her. Of course along the way she meets and falls in love with Jackman. The film will open on July 28th as a limited release.

Woody Allen chooses to use a non original score as he did in his previous film Matchpoint (Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti arias sung by Caruso) and something he has also done in the past with films such as Manhattan which was wonderful Gershwin. Some of you will find Swan Lake Ballet Suite, Sabre Dance, and Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 an interesting listen for not only the music itself, but how Allen incorporates them into the different scenes in the film. As Allen explains he chose the music based on “his instincts about what would work in the film.” He is certainly not alone in his choosing of Swan Lake material. Anna Karenina, Center Stage, Dracula (1931), and The Right Stuff, are just a few of the many films this music has been used in. Peer Gynt has been used in such films as M, Affliction, Needful Things, and Rat Race. “Sabre Dance” from Khachaturian, has been used in countless cartoons and the quick pace easily lends itself to many different situations in films especially comedies. Something completely new for me was “Miami Beach Rhumba” by Xavier Cugat a cute well played rhumba with silly but catchy lyrics. The two polkas included by J. Strauss Jr. also fall into the category of good examples of how classical music can be used to underscore scenes in a film. Some of you may find the Lester Lanin dance music right up your alley but this is not my cup of tea, thank you. As many of you know who read my reviews “Some music I just don’t understand” is one of my signatures.

The intrigue of this soundtrack to the seasoned collector is to view the film and see how Woody takes and blends the music into the score. Much if not all of the classical material could easily have been written for the silver screen if there were films back when Grieg and Tchaikovsky did their composing. In fact Kristi Brown has written an absolutely fascinating chapter in Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film called “The Troll Among Us.” It talks about the use of Grieg’s work in films. The book is available thru http://www.ashgate.com and includes many other reasons for using all types of what I call “source music” in movies. An interesting question for me would be to ask Mr. Allen if he had read this article before selecting.

This soundtrack’s major appeal is going to come from the audience that loves the film and wants to follow up with the music. The hardcore collector will take my advice if his collection is lacking in the classical/Lanin/Cugat area. Liner notes by the way are (0). Wish a little information could be included? The sequencing of the music, along with the transfer, is a puzzle to me. No information is given on who mastered the material. “Miami Beach Rhumba” is nestled between “Tritsch-Tratsch Polka” and “Sabre Dance” and is obviously taken from an older mono source. That’s fine but put it at the end of the soundtrack. It’s a fine song as I stated earlier but it has some pops and clicks and I had to turn the volume down slightly to avoid distortion. Where it is located there is an abrupt stop of the track, the next one begins immediately with this high quality recording! “Adios Muchachos” sounds like a live recording with a fair amount of background noise but the other two Lanin recordings seem to be studio ones and the difference in sound quality is quite apparent. Not having any notes makes my deductions a little more difficult, but no matter just program the tracks different and the flow will much better in my opinion. I would do 1-6, 15, 11-14, 7-8, 17-18, 16, and 9. Enjoy the movie and try to hear where Mr. Allen put the material and while your at it enjoy the classical music, it won’t hurt one bit!

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