2006 seems to be a year for Nicholas Cage to play police roles. First it was John McLoughlin in the highly visible Oliver Stone film World Trade Center and now he is Edward Malus a police officer looking for a missing child in the American remake of the 1973 British film Wicker Man. Directed by Neil LaBute, who also reworked the Anthony Shaffer screenplay, the film also stars the veteran actress Ellen Burstyn. Parts were filmed in British Columbia/Vancouver making for some pretty wonderful scenic shots, a highlight of the film along with the soundtrack from Badalamenti. This is really quite a forgettable film that just didn’t translate very well to an americanization at all. The entire story had as many holes as a screen and Cage who was also one of 17 producers (when was the last time you saw one!) seemed to go through the screenplay wanting it to end so he could collect his paycheck and go onto his next of several different projects. The music however is a completely different story.

Badalamenti in the first track “Overture for The Wicker Man” gives us the three main themes to the soundtrack which are linked to the isle, women on the isle, and the main characters Edward, Rowan, and Willow. The delicate use of an acoustic guitar, wordless female voice, strings, and melody from a clarinet makes for a simple but effective mourning, wanting theme. “Cycling into a Nightmare”, a key moment in the film for action and suspense, has some tense music but compared to other action tracks found on numerous soundtracks this one is fairly low key in nature. “Sister Summer’s Isle” is a complete treatment of the theme introduced in the Overture track. Ominious, dark, the way a good suspense/horror track should be written as opposed to that clanging, and pounding from the synth so prevelant in todays films. Angelo makes use of electronic sounds in his scores but does so in a tasteful manner. “The Burning”, which is nearly the ending of the film, offers voiceless chorus, cult/ethnic music, and the restating of the summer isle theme in its haunting best. While there is a prologue six months later to end the film, this track sums the film up quite well.

The mixing and mastering done by Tony Gillis at Classic Sound, electronic programming by Phil Marshall, engineering by Joe McGrath, are all top notch. A very nice touch was a paragraph from the composer who explained in easy enough to understand language how he went about the process with director La Bute of putting the score together with the correct style of orchestration, coloring, when and where to use electronics. It is really quite interesting the process that a composer must go through to achieve the correct balance which Angelo did in this case. In fact this is the strongest part of the film that can be recommended! The soundtrack is quite good if you enjoy your music on the darker side. The film has to fall into the category of if you are a horror fan you will check it out with or without this review. If you are a huge fan of the 1973 film, the temptation will be there to compare. Wait until there is a DVD and rent it at a bargain price.

Herrmann The Film Scores

September 26, 2006

Great Performances

Bernard Herrmann

Los Angeles Philharmonic

conducted by

Esa-Pekka Salonen


One of the more celebrated film composers Bernard Herrmann, has had his share of compilation albums including some from the composer himself. It has been said that some of scores are difficult at best to listen to as an experience away from the film. And yet when we listen to these selected cues and suites in this CD one cannot help but appreciate the beauty, horror, and despair Bernard has created for the films. What sets this compilation apart from the others? These and other questions will be answered in this review. Read on!!!

Somewhere in his musical studies at the Sibelius Academy Salonen must have studied Herrmann because the performances contained in this CD are the right tempo which is normally not the case in many compilation CD’s. You get a concert orchestra which has the appropriate arrangements and they go through the motions of playing. Salonen with the LA Philharmonic act like they are on the Newman Sound Stage performing the material for the film itself! Case in point is Psycho: A Suite for Strings. For those of you who are not familiar the Psycho music was written for strings only and in this 16+ minute suite everything is arranged, performed, and orchestrated to perfection. This is the kind of music that not only do you remember the thematic material but the scene in the film itself and I am not just talking about the famous violin shrieking

but also the Prelude and the scene where Janet Leigh is driving in the rainstorm. While the more complete versions give you of course a lot more of the music they are a difficult listen. Some of Bernard’s material is not necessarily good to listen to away from the film and Herrmann used a lot of tracks so you end up with quite a fragmented listen. Five other Hitchcock films are included in this compilation: Marnie, North by Northwest, Vertigo, and Torn Curtain. Torn Curtain was the last of (9) films that Herrmann worked on with Hitchcock and we are given 6 minutes of a completely rejected score that would have worked much better in the film than the feel good pop Addison score that ended up replacing it. Talk about weird and yet wonderful in the same breath and this is what you have with this flute, horn, trombone, tuba, cello, basses, and percussion the orchestra he chose for Torn Curtain. After his parting of the ways with Hitchcock and having to outdo himself, he wrote another wonderful but strange score to the Francois Truffaut film Fahrenheit 451. This time it was for Strings, Harps, and Percussion and the odd combination worked well. We can thank Charles Ives for his friendship and teaching of a very young Herrmann. Because of this relationship and learning Bernard was taught to create out of the ordinary and he never failed to disappoint us. Herrmann’s final work was for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and it is represented as the suite A Night-Piece for Orchestra. The lovely Alto Saxophone, muted Trumpet, romantic strings in the Blues track really seem out of place for Herrmann, sounding more like a Dave Grusin composition with Kenny G. picking up the alto sax. Not to fear because in the Bloodbath track he is right back on track with dissonant brass and some interesting percussion work.

The Sony direct stream system is really quite good. The volume goes up a bit on the stereo system but the overall sound quality is a lot smoother with cleaner highs. This recording is from previously released material as the original recording was done in 1996. But the plus for you is a much lower price and the recording material is exactly the same. With a retail price of $9.95 and discounts available from that figure this is a recording that is an absolute must if you are wanting to listen to material of Herrmann for the very first time. If you are more of “seasoned veteran” you will still want this recording because of the lower price and the excellent program Salonen chose. Highly recommended.

Golden Scores Rating (****)

Produced by David Mottley

Engineer Richard King

Sony # is SK92767

Total Time is 76:45

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the LA Philharmonic

Track Listing

1. Prelude (02:40)

The Man Who Knew Too Much

2. Prelude (02:04)

Track 2-12: Psycho: A Suite For Strings

3. The City (01:44)

4. The Rainstorm (01:25)

5. The Madhouse (02:36)

6. The Murder (01:01)

7. The Water (01:11)

8. The Swamp (02:28)

9. The Stairs (01:32)

10. The Knife (00:28)

11. The Cellar (01:16)

12. Finale (01:57)

13. I. Prelude (05:13)

Track 13-14: Marnie: Suite

14. II. The Hunt (05:45)

15. Overture (02:46)

North By Northwest

16. I. Prelude (02:58)

Track 16-18: Vertigo: Suite

17. II. The Nightmare (02:08)

18. III. Scène D’Amour (06:49)

19. I. Prelude (02:17)

Track 19-21: Torn Curtain

20. II. Gromek (01:54)

21. III. The Killing (02:16)

22. Prelude (01:32)

Track 22-32: Fahrenheit 451: Suite For Strings, Harps, And Percussion

23. Fire Engine (01:01)

24. The Bedroom (01:39)

25. The Reading (02:03)

26. The Garden (01:26)

27. The Nightmare (01:51)

28. Flowers of Fire (01:43)

29. Flamethrower (00:37)

30. The Captain’s Death (01:00)

31. The Road (02:14)

32. Finale (02:25)

33. Prelude (00:54)

Track 33-37: Taxi Driver: A Night-Piece For Orchestra With Obbligato Alto Saxophone

34. Blues (03:10)

35. Night Prowl (00:29)

36. Bloodbath (01:27)

37. Finale (00:45)

Wuthering Heights/Alfred Newman

September 22, 2006


Was there ever a more exciting year in the history of cinema than 1939? How would you like to be director William Wyler and your competition for best director is Fleming, Ford, and Capra? Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) had to compete against Gable, Stewart, Donat, and Rooney for best actor. Film stars such as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne didn’t receive a nomination for Gunga Din, Beau Geste, and Stagecoach. And I have failed to even mention Dark Victory, Juarez, Drums Along the Mohawk, Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Four Feathers, and Intermezzo. A classic film many of us enjoy today is Destry Rides Again with Marlene Dietrich and there wasn’t a hint of a nomination. The competition for Newman that year was every bit as difficult with Alfred competing against the likes of Gone With the Wind, Of Mice and Men, Dark Victory, Gulliver’s Travels, and the eventual winner The Wizard of Oz. Two of his other fine scores to Gunga Din and Hunchback of Notre Dame were not even nominated! What other year could you have Victor Young, Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, and Aaron Copland shut out on Oscar night!

The Emily Bronte classic has been brought to the screen numerous times but most agree that this is the film on which all others are measured against and there is no question or doubt about who produced the greatest score. “Main Title and Foreword” not only introduces the tragically beautiful Cathy Theme (this is the melody on compilation albums) but also two short leitmotivs in the first few bars conveying the despair and anguish of the tragic love. One is played by the brass section while the other is performed by the strings at the same time. Under the umbrella of trembling violins Alfred also introduces the Wuthering Heights theme, which is one of mystery. “Joseph and Lockwood” gives us part of the Cathy theme again but this time with a soft but distinct voiceless female choir. Listening to these first two cues this reviewer always has wondered how would these cues have sounded with a theremin? On the surface it appears that it would be an ideal situation for the unique instrument. “C.U. Lockwood/As Fortunate as Others” gives us a completely new look at the Wuthering Heights theme, bright, upbeat, and happy quite the opposite of the beginning of the cue which with the oboe is dark, mysterious and eerie. Later in the cue the theme for Heathcliff is introduced with the clarinets followed by a nursey rhyme theme depicting the children playing. “He Walks to Bed” is another statement of the Cathy Theme but this time it is done in a tear jerker style unsurpassed by anyone and likely it was used as a template for how to arrange and orchestrate music in a style to get the tissue out. “Will You Forget Me/Death Scene/End Title” is a repeat of the Cathy Theme but this time it is done very very eloquently, arranged for a small string orchestra (not sure how many). Keep the hanky out!

The liner notes by Fred Steiner indicate that there was nearly 75 minutes of material with only 12 minutes being source material. This Leonard Bernstein recording contains approx. 40 minutes and 16 of the 35 cues Newman recorded. This, for the present, is the best possible available recording. There was a bootleg done sometime ago but can’t compare to the quality of this recording. Could a OST be possible at sometime in the future? Well, the acetate transfers and optical track still exist so it could be done. Then there would be a trade off between the quality of this recording or the original material of the OST. The Steiner notes are very very helpful because he includes some small music passages of melodies or examples which you can play on your piano if you are musically inclined. If not there is no harm in not being able to use it. For now this is a most welcome addition to score material that most people couldn’t obtain. Recommended

Golden Scores Rating is (***)

Composed by Alfred Newman

Conducted By Elmer Bernstein

Recording Engineer is Keith Grant

Track Listing:

1. Main Title And Foreword (02:52)

2. Joseph And Lockwood (03:58)

3. C.U. Lockwood / As Fortunate As Others (03:43)

4. Cathy Jumps Up (02:49)

5. Cathy’s Return (02:10)

6. Edgar And Cathy Entering Living Room (05:21)

7. The Garden (03:36)

8. Get Out Of My Way / Sir Roger De Coverley (03:54)

9. Why Isn’t There The Smell Of Heather (02:10)

10. He Walks To Bed (03:45)

11. Will You Forget Me / Death Scene / End Title (05:42)

Total Time is 40:49

Farscape Vol. 2/Guy Gross

September 21, 2006

“Farscape” was a very successful Sci-Fi Channel Television series which ran from 1999-2003. The storyline had to do with an astronaut who was thrown into the future universe becoming part of a fugitive alien starship crew. The Australian television composer Guy Gross scored over 60+ episodes and it is two of these episodes Die Me Dichotomy, and Into The Lion’s Den Part 2: Wolfs in Sheep’s Clothing which are featured on this new La-La Land (LLLCD 1046) release. Gross who studied at the Conservatorium High School in Sydney Australia is fully comfortable with classical as well as synthesizer and has crafted two wonderful scores for these episodes. The first season was not scored by Gross but by a trio called SubVision who composed an ethnic/middle eastern theme sung by Avigail Herman which was carried over by Gross. Everything else was quite unique.

The absolute highlight of the first episode is a funeral piece called ”Aeryn’s Funeral” inspired by masses written by Haydn and Bach and actual Latin lyrics from Requiem Mass. This track alone is worth the price of the CD! Religious or not you have to appreciate the sheer beauty of this track. This is definitely a track where classical training comes to the front on the part of Guy. It is carried over into the next track “What The Future Holds” played at first by woodwind very adagio and slowly continuing somberly into “Goodbye” but ending with a statement of time to move on in “Memory Loss.” The overall tone of the CD has to remind you of a minor symphony such as Franck or Sibelius. There are some brighter spots such as “Scorpius in Control” and “Shielded Message” two synth tracks well orchestrated. But there are far more tracks such as “In Hiding” “Unfufilled Revenge” “Crichton’s Transformation”, and “Like Father, Like Son” that are quite bleak. Unlike other scores it doesn’t have the dissonant/screeching sound which seems to be in at the moment in sci-fi/horror material.

The Lion Den… episode was the conclusion of Season 3 and is also pretty solemn and somber in nature. “Destroy The Power/Back At The Ranch/Psychosis is a nice track with some dirge like music to a march with horns to an eerie sound all done with the synthesizer which still amazes me at what the darn things are capable of doing. One can only imagine what this could sound like with a symphony orchestra! “Life Stand” which is 9+ minutes in length features male choir and organ. The track depicts the preparing for war and the final conflict in the Star Wars tradition.

The overall sound quality is good and the liner notes by Randall Larson are as usual very informative. Since I have never seen an episode before the photo’s of the characters in the cd booklet meant absolutely nothing to me! This being volume 2 there was a volume 1(LLLCD1026) release which is in quite short supply. If interested one might get both releases as it is limited on both volumes to 1200 units not a lot of pieces for a good soundtrack. Recommended.

Crypt of the Living Dead is a 1973 cult horror film directed by Ray “Legs Diamond” Danton and starred Andrew Prine (Miracle Worker and TV series Wide Country), Patty Shepard (A Barbara Steele look alike), and Frank Brana (spaghetti western fame). This is one of those films to watch late at night if you can’t sleep because there is really no plot, poor dialogue, low budget, but it is about vampires and there is always a fascination with these creatures that lure us to the screen to view. Just as there is a fascination with vampires there is also one with Phillip Lambro and the interesting atonal percussion style score he created for the film.

Phillip Lambro is primarily known for his works in the concert hall has produced such works as “Two Pictures for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra”, “Music for Winds, Brass and Percussion”, and “Dance Barbaro for Percussion” among many compositions. While this is a score that you would classify in the minimalist style it goes far beyond and more. While it is based on the twelve tone system it really doesn’t sound like it at all due to the rhythm of the percussion. And there is no defined pattern like you hear with Glass who seems to repeat himself over and over again. The key to the success of this soundtrack is percussion and very very unusual instrumentation. Hmm did Phillip study Herrmann? First of all he hired Emil Richards a master studio musician in the art of percussion. Then it was scored for harp, celesta (played by Lambro), accordian, flutes, oboe, trumpets, french horns, (8) strings, and everything but the kitchen sink in the percussion department. As Lambro explained in the liner notes “I use percussion for color but compose it just Iike I would for a violin.” And it is absolutely amazing what can be done with that array of instrumentation especially when it is performed by Richards! In addition there are vocals without words by Orriel Smith used extremely effectively. “Little Hannah’s Theme” is like a lovely little tune that sounds like it comes from a music box. It is also the same theme that Smith hums throughout many of the key tracks. This is one of those tunes that once you hear it a few times it will stick with you. You will find yourself humming it to yourself when you least expect it! Although it is used effectively in the film it is not a horror theme by any stretch of the imagination. While the melody is completely different it has a similiar feeling to the main title of Cat People, a childlike theme we would recite when playing like”you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.” The motif has something to do with Hannah the vampiress, be it danger, a shot of her tomb etc. Other tracks of interest are the opening “Introduction and Hannah’s Atmosphere” which has dissonant strings, interesting harp chords, some weird noises, and the Hannah theme. “Hannah’s Mesmerization” a 4+ minute track which is an excellent example of creating an effective cue using little melody (there is a reference to the hannah theme) but lots of percussion, dissonant sounds, etc. “Alteration & Transfiguration” is an all percussion track featuring the bongo, gong and snare drums. “The Quest” has the steady pulsating rhythm with fluttering flutes, dissonant violin, and oboe. “Hannah On Fire” uses the oboe chanting a snake like theme with help along the way from celesta, harp, and the always present percussion material.

Please don’t automatically discount this as just another horror score because it truly is not! In fact forget the name of the title completely. We’ll instead call it Symphony for Oboe and Percussion. Phillip Lambro is extremely talented and if were not for the efforts of Robin at Perseverance, the material would have never come to a release, and we would all be sorry. This reviewer would have done just what you I told you not to do! Phillip should also be given credit (he wasn’t) for re-editing the original tapes to make them easier to listen to which they were. The digital transfer and recording was excellent from Penguin Recording. The liner notes by Randall Larson are informative, easy to understand for the most part, and cover all aspects including filming, composer bio, and material about the score itself. Look forward to new releases of more Lambro material in the future. Recommended.

Golden Scores Rating: (***)

Music composed, orchestrated, arranged, and conducted by Phillip Lambro

Executive Producer is Robin Esterhammer

CD# is PD009

Track Listing:


1. Introduction and Hannah’s Atmosphere (02:43)


2. The Long Darken Passageway (01:03)


3. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:27)


4. Medieval Courtyard & Chase (01:28)


5. Hannah’s Cryptal Admonition & Chase (02:30)


6. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:25)


7. Hannah’s Mesmerization (04:19)


8. Admittance Into The Sacred Sepulcher (01:31)


9. Incantation & Transformation (01:30)


10. Wolf Transition & Chase (01:28)


11. Hannah Emerges In The Night (02:09)


12. Spirits From The Crypt (00:50)


13. Possessed By Hannah (01:48)


14. Opening Of The Crypt (01:06)


15. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:24)


16. Hannah’s Seduction (02:01)


17. Incandescent Hannah (01:12)


18. The Mob, The Wildman & Chase (00:54)


19. Alteration & Transfiguration (01:52)


20. The Quest (01:09)


21. Hannah On Fire (02:29)


22. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:26)


Total Duration: 00:37:44







Micheal Wilson, writer of the screenplay for Friendly Persuasion, did so without credit, as he had been blacklisted by the McCarthy committee, who were of course convinced there were communists behind every bush in America. Further information on the junior Wisconsin senator is well documented in the George Clooney film Goodnight and Good Luck. Jessamyn West, writer of the novel and a quaker herself, based some of the story on her great grandfather. As an aside, she was a cousin to Richard Nixon. She also went on to write the screenplay for The Big Country in 1958. Michael also did the screenplay to Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar but was only given it posthumously many years later. The film was nominated for (6) Oscars including William Wyler (director) and Anthony Perkins (supporting actor) but won nothing. The song, sung by Pat Boone was also nominated but lost too. Tiomkin was on a roll with the Oscars having won for High and the Mighty and High Noon. He would still go on and receive yet another Oscar for his score to the Hemingway classic The Old Man And The Sea. The story of a Quaker family living in Indiana in 1862 and eventually being forced to fight in the civil war which goes completely against there religion is a classic tale. Gary Cooper headed an excellent cast which also included Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins and Marjorie “Ma Kettle” Main. It was well received and did quite well at the box office.

The Tiomkin score is superb! The main theme was a huge hit for Pat Boone and is included in the original soundtrack release. Once you get passed that you can enjoy all of the wonderful nuances and tracks that Dimitri wrote. Tiomkin was one of the early pioneers in using a “pop hit” in a film and in this case it was Boone. Sorry I am just not a fan of Pat Boone. If you are that’s great but I start with track two instead of one, which is the Boone vocal and it works very nicely for me. The main theme is quite American sounding played by the concertmaster in the main title with an 82 piece orchestra Dimitri used for this soundtrack. The theme is also used in other tracks throughout the score. “The Carriage Race” could have come from a cartoon track. It is filled with wa wa muted horns, percussion noises, and offers hints of the main theme but never fully developed, and of course the frantic comical pace of a race done for fun. “Polka at the Fair” is just as it sounds a lovely well done square dance style track complete with banjo and hoe down violin. It could very easily be a compilation track on an Americana CD. “Villagers Galloping to Battle” hints at patriotic themes, the main theme, but the struggle of war (the village was preparing to fight the Morgan Raiders) is quite evident and most definitely a powerful American statement. “Love Scene in the Barn/Coax Me A Little/Thee I Love” is the most played track on any sort of compilation CD such as ones put out by Silva or Gerhardt/National Philaharmonic. It is a great track with the coax me being exactly what Dimitri does in getting the main theme out; going all around the melody before he finally decides to bring it to the surface. A wonderful example of orchestration from Tiomkin; elegant and simple yet extremely effective. This is a man who was born in the Ukraine and yet is a prime example of how to write Americana style music!

At the writing of this review there is no current available recording. RKO records (Unique LP-110) released the soundtrack material in 1956 minus the Pat Boone vocal on a mono LP. Varese Sarabande did release a CD in 1997 (VSD 5828) which is also out of print but includes the Pat Boone track. There are many compilations that will include the “Love Scene in the Barn” track or main title which is nice but there is so much more to this music than just the main theme! Some of the underscore tracks written today could easily be substituted into another film and the viewer would likely not know at all! Not the case with the material written for this film. Of course there is material in the film itself that is not included on the CD. Tiomkin/Webster wrote other songs which were performed but not included on either the LP or the CD. Perhaps there will be a future release of the soundtrack in the future which will include all of the material from the film. Like or dislike the songs they should be included and let the listener decide what he or she wants to listen to. This is definitely one of those scores that you should seek out and add to your collection. At the time of this writing there were copies available from SAE, Amazon, and E-Bay. Recommended

Golden Scores rating (***)

Varese Sarabande VSD 5828

Composed and conducted by Dimitri Tiomkin

Track Listing:

1. Friendly persuasion (Thee I love) (02:57)

Performed by Pat Boone

2. Main title – Little Jess and Samantha (04:23)

3. Carriage chase (02:42)

4. Polka at the fair (02:49)

5. Villagers galloping to battle (03:13)

6. Jess searchers for Josh – End title (03:53)

7. The battle – Josh’s horse returns home (03:07)

8. The trip to Ohio (03:03)

9. Leaving the widow Hudspeth’s farm (01:36)

10. Love scene in the barn – Coax me a little – Thee I love (05:25)

Total Duration: 00:33:00


Headspace/Ryan Shore

September 15, 2006


Released in 2005, Headspace is a psychological thriller/horror/independent film directed by Andrew van de Houten with Olivia Hussey, Dee Wallace-Stone, William Atherton, and newcomer Christopher Denham in the role of troubled Alex Borden who the story revolves around. The story is about Alex who at first finds uncanny mental capacity such as memorizing books and beating chess masters but all too soon it seems his brain has become a place for demons and devils wanting to wreak terror and havoc.

Ryan Shore, the composer, has created quite a different style of music from the typical horror film. So many of the horror films today are headache producing, teeth grinding, and metal sounding with slashing and banging that your normal listening level needs to be turned down to listen to it at all! Yes Ryan has included a small amount of that but there is much more to offer! First of all the first time I listened to the main theme in the first track “Headspace” I remembered the theme! Its a small (5) note motif played on the piano which is very distinct and expanded on the piano, strings and electronics. “Phrenology” is a great cue that features a chamber string quartet (no credit given) in a fairly simple melody but expanded on quite nicely. For those of you who don’t know phrenology is the study of personality traits based on what your skull looks like (didn’t know either but looked it up). Both “Bulletin Board” and “Dr. Murphy” (Olivia Hussey) feature the motif again played simply on the piano. “Lady In Waiting” is a jazz quartet number well played with good sax work from Ryan himself. He reminded me a little bit like Phil Woods one of my favorites for quite a number of years. Wish it could have been longer as it had a good beat and feeling to it. “Boris Pavlovsky” (Mark Margolis) is quite creepy with long slow string notes and complemented by small brass statements. “Christa Spiritu” is quite an eloquent male chorus track. The final track is Bach’s “Ava Maria” nicely adapted by Shore and performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra with Katarina Silhavikova performing the soprano solo. The eloquence of the harp and the singing of Katarina is one that will put a tear in your eye if you have a fondness for opera. Well done!!! Overall, this score is quite diverse in nature considering the chamber, hot jazz, and eerie music. Since this was a high quality download there was no distortion present. In addition, the playing from the Slovak Symphony was fine. There was a time when I could not say that but in recent times they seem to be improving and they are getting a lot more recording dates. There are a small amount of liner notes which you download with the release, not enough information but better than no information which is sometimes the case with other distributors. Would like to see more information in the future.

With films such as Prime (Streep and Thurman) and Fur (Kidman) upcoming in the near future Shore is definitely in the “up up and away” mode. And at only 31 we can look forward to a long and success laden career from Ryan. Anytime I see (4) years of classical training at Berklee College it gets my attention. This recording is a Mikael Carlsson produced one and available as a download. I would urge you to go to his website at http://www.moviescoremedia.com and check out this one as well as (10) other titles from other young composers who you are likely unfamiliar with. Small companies like movie score media, perseverance, la-la land, and others need to be supported. Recommended.

Hollywoodland/Marcelo Zarvos

September 15, 2006


Good movie, good song CD, great soundtrack sums up the Hollywoodland film starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins. Director Alan “Soprano” Coulter gives a great “what-if” story mixed in with real life tragedy about the television star of Superman George Reeves. George, in real life took his own life or did he? Alan presents us with three different ways that Reeves was killed through the eyes of the private investigator Louis Simo played by Adrien Brody. The entry level low end character Louis Simo was very well researched even having him use a “bottom of the barrel” argus camera for his photos. In fact Brody was good enough to want to make want to go out and chew a pack of gum, something the gumshoe did a lot of in the film. Gum and gumshoe, hmm?

Both the song and soundtrack material fit the film like custom tailoring, shifting smoothly between one another and complementing each other. Marcelo “Door In The Floor” Zarvos while a relative newcomer to the soundtrack world certainly sounds more like a seasoned veteran to this reviewers ears and look for even more from him in the future. The overall mood of the score material is quite dark and somber filled with lots of slow quiet passages from the piano, trumpet or flugehorn, vibraphone, harp, and woodwinds. Small statements initially fooled me into thinking this was a “cool jazz” kind of album as hearing the muted trumpet reminded me of phrases from Miles Davis and the delicacy of the piano playing of Bill Evans. However, upon repeated listens, my overall opinion has changed to that of a quiet work. Even the track entitled “A Violent Past” one that you might think would have some brashness and dissonance to it is not the case, far from it. Tracks such as “Louis Simo P.I.” and “Roosevelt Hotel” the Simo theme, reflect the air of a L.A. Confidental mood for the 50’s era of Los Angeles. And while it is still too structured to be called the cool jazz of Mulligan, Baker and others it still has the appearance and feeling of. It would be nice sometime to hear a 10-15 small jazz group rendition of the Simo theme with all instruments being given the opportunity to express themselves. Overall the film is dark thus the score is a direct reflection of it and written in a way that it never gets in the way of the film but its presence always looms in the background. People that attended the film with me and they are not into soundtracks all noticed the music.

The song CD on the otherhand was one to bring back memories of the 50’s. The first track “Superman M E” while a scant 50 or so seconds immediately brought back childhood memories of watching the Superman television show. This reviewer is old enough to have watched them when they weren’t reruns! Yikes, has that many years gone by! This was quite a catchy theme and the only thing missing was the narration of faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. “Theme For Ernie” played by John Coltrane was the extended exit music for the film and a thing of beauty, a composition usually not associated with “Trane”, an artist who would make an interesting film himself. “Elephant Walk” is an early on Quincy Jones composition and performed quite nicely by the Arturo O’Farrill Orchestra. Quincy’s early tunes were big band with some bop and foot stomping feelings to them and Arturo didn’t miss a beat! Arturo is also featured on “El Cumbanchero” and “At Last” and both are performed well. In fact I again admit to playing this standard in the high school swing band. Since it had a trombone solo and guess what instrument I played, it was a favorite of mine, still is along with Hollywood.

The recording/mixing/mastering process is so good these days that almost all the time the word excellent describes it and this is no exception. The lonely figure of Superman with the trash cans on the back cover of the song cd is excellent artwork and tells quite a complete story in its own way. While the film has some flaws (very few don’t) and the song cd could have included the short singing/guitar strumming of Ben Affleck all three have to be recommended as a watch, listen, and listen.

The Prophecy/David C. Williams

September 14, 2006


Written and Directed by Gregory Widen The Prophecy is an interesting story starring Christopher Walken as Gabriel the angel who has a plan to come to earth, capture a soul which will end the war that is going on in heaven. Of course the plot thickens with the fact that another angel has hidden the soul making it difficult for Gabriel to find it. The Miramax film was a fairly low budget one (8 million) and it has already returned well over 16 million dollars for them. It has turned into a cult classic and there have been 4 sequels as they are now up to Prophecy 5.

David “One Man Show” Williams truly impressed this reviewer with the score. He performed, produced, mixed, and orchestrated the entire score and in only 18 days! The only thing he couldn’t accomplish was getting the score released in 1995 when it first came out. Finally, Robin Esterhammer of Perseverance Records to the rescue, and although 11 years have gone by it is finally being brought to market.

The first track “All About Faith” is a track with choir and religious thoughts. As David explained in the liner notes he was “always trying to hint at the presence of God” throughout the score and this is an excellent example of what he accomplished. In addition, the classical training he received at Julliard with John “Red Violin” Corigliano, becomes quite evident not only on this track, but in the entire score. You have to keep reminding yourself that this is not a symphony orchestra but just David Williams! The average listener to this would just think it was a normal orchestra playing a series of tracks. For the horror fan there are tracks such as “Out The Window” which are full of the shrieking violins and weird sounding effects but even this track is quite toned down compared to many others I have heard. “Medallion/Going Home” is a meditation/elegy piece with chorus and very solemn chords followed by solo piano. “Confession” is a repeat of the “All About Faith” the main theme, which is also repeated in the final track “Propecies” as a slightly longer expanded version. There is an addition of more electronics at the end of the track with chorus otherwise it is quite similiar to “All About Faith.” “Mesa” is an interesting track with the Native American flavor that would be interesting to listen to with symphony orchestra in an expanded version. Still David seems to push all of the buttons correctly and include enough variety to make the track work correctly in the film. I feel compelled to ponder how would this soundtrack have sounded with a full symphony orchestra. The sound quality and mixing are not an issue as this was a digital recording from beginning to end. There are interviews with the director and the composer as well as general information about the movie itself in the liner notes.

The reason for wanting to purchase this score is to listen to the training and versatility of David Williams. The classical training makes a difference! The main theme is a nice melody and David uses just enough of the chorus samples in key parts of the score to enhance it without the typical female wailing on track after track. Of course if you are a fan of the film and are part of the cult status it has achieved over the years you have already been patiently awaiting this release and happy that Robin was able to bring it to market. The older listener, and I put myself in that category could marvel at the wonders of electronics when used properly. You can order it directly from http://www.perseverancerecords.com.

Track listing

1. All About Faith (02:38)

2. The Prophecy (01:41)

3. Thomas and Simon (03:06)

4. Questions Of Doubt (00:54)

5. Out the Window (01:27)

6. Stealing The Soul (01:25)

7. Medallion/Going Home (01:40)

8. Angels Beckon (01:55)

9. Refuge (01:15)

10. Gabriel (02:49)

11. Mary and Simon (01:16)

12. Part Of The Plan (02:06)

13. Transfer Of The Soul (02:58)

14. Mesa (03:00)

15. Drawings (02:28)

16. Hawthorn’s Film (03:05)

17. Burning Uziel (02:04)

18. Jealousy (02:16)

19. Fate (03:26)

20. No Giving In (03:20)

21. The Mine (04:14)

22. Confession (02:02)

23. Breaking Through (01:38)

24. Lucifer (02:27)

25. He’s Coming (02:28)

26. Up in Flames (02:13)

27. Divine Intervention (01:23)

28. Prophecies (03:15)

Total Duration: 01:04:29

Torn Curtain/Bernard Herrmann

September 8, 2006

Is it a coincidence that the 9th entry into the Elmer Bernstein Filmmusic Collection was the 9th and final collaboration between Herrmann and Hitchcock? Why was it rejected? How different is it from the John Addison composed score that became the soundtrack for Torn Curtain (1966) the suspense thriller starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews? These questions and more will be answered.Alfred was nearing the end of a long and highly successful career as one of the most recognized directors in the history of cinema. He was to do only three additional pictures Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), and his last film Family Plot (1976). The film lacked in many areas and as a result wasn’t a box office success. Julie Andrews and Paul Newman didn’t have the necessary chemistry and were rather wooden in their performances. The script was interesting enough and helped to carry much of the film but it just was all in all rather ordinary as far as film goes. The music of course was a dismal disaster. John Addison wrote a nice enough score it just didn’t fit the film very well at all. It sounded more like a score to Barefoot In The Park (no insult to Hefti) or an Agatha Christie mystery than a tense thriller. And the Johnny Mann Singers doing the lyrics? No wonder Herrmann had taken enough from the powers to be in Hollywood. And please no disrespect to John Addison either. His theme is a recognizable one well written. It is just not for this film. If you are fortunate enough to have this collection or the Varese VSD 5817 CD listen to how the music is composed for the bus/bicycle sequence at the end of the film. In fact, taking it a step further, rent the DVD sometime and watch the film. Then turn off the sound and listen to a sequence that Herrmann wrote as opposed to Addison. There is quite a difference! The reason for the rejection according to liner notes provided by Christopher Palmer was Hitchcock walked onto the sound stage and saw an orchestra of 12 flutes, 16 horns, 9 trombones, 2 tubas, 2 sets of timpani, 8 cellos, and 8 basses and thought this ensemble isn’t going to provide any hit pop tune which of course it wasn’t designed to. The argument and break-up followed and that was the end of their 10 year relationship.

Just to set the record straight this recording is not an original OST but a faithful reproduction of the rejected score with Elmer Bernstein conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in August of 1977 as part of his filmmusic collection series on lp. It was one of two recordings that sold out. For the most part, this project taken on by Bernstein was a failure. In the case of selling out it only meant somewhere around 1800 copies! Guess the 2000 unit applied 30 years ago too!

The “Prelude” immediately sets the overall mood for the majority of the score with the horns carrying the melody backed by trombones and a rather brash timpani. The flutes enter and you can hear the tuba a little. Keep in mind the orchestra makeup which I described earlier and you will get the idea of what Herrmann came up with and if this is what Hitchcock heard and he had a pop tune in mind, yikes! The “Valse Lente” (a slow waltz) is an exception to the overall dark grayness of the score. Written for the strings it is a wonderful but short excursion into the world of chamber style music. Overall, it is still quite somber but the track flows nicely. Has a similiar flavor and feel to the work “For The Fallen” for people who know that work of Herrmann. “The Farmhouse” is a most interesting track that brought back memories of the third part of a work of Holst called “Beni Mora”, the third movement called In the Street of the Ouled Nails. Holst perhaps had a bit of influence on Herrmann as he used a low flute for a short passage and then proceeded to repeat it 163 times! Of course Bernard never repeated himself! This track also has excellent brass chords and is an excellent example of the superior underscore that Herrmann always wrote.

This is one of the more difficult scores for the average soundtrack listener to grasp and appreciate. It is overall pretty dark and depressing. The major key is not to be found. The avid Herrmann fan will take to this like the proverbial “duck to water”, appreciating it like another hard listen “Psycho”. To purchase as a separate unit any of the recordings in the set are going to be a difficult task at best. The Varese release originally titled The Unused Score might be your best bet given that the Bernstein was on LP.

Total Time is 42:30

Performed by the Royal Philharmonic conducted by Elmer Bernstein

Track Listing

1. Prelude (2:22)

2. The Radiogram/The Hotel (2:44)

3. The Phone/The Bookstore (5:22)

4. Valse Lente (3:04)

5. The Travel-Desk/Gromek (3:16)

6. The Farmhouse (2:16)

7. The Body (2:33)

8. The Killing (1:55)

9. The Toast/The Photos (2:57)

10. The Cab-Driver/The Hill (3:41)

11. Discovery/The Blackboard (2:52)

12. The Formula/The Corridor (2:50)

13. The Bicycles/The Bus (3:01)

14. Prelude (Reprise) (2:23)