Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. star in the arthouse film about the photographer Diane Arbus, who did quite creative and unusual work in the 50’s, photographing dwarfs, hunchbacks, and freaks. As explained in the beginning of the film and also the title, this is an imaginary world of what things could have been like for Diane, more of a dreamworld and not the true reality at all. As of this writing (December 2006) the film has not fared well at the box office, returning only $221,000 of its nearly 17 million dollar budget. Perhaps time and the DVD market will be kind to the film.

Both Kinsey & Alamo, the two previous films that Carter Burwell scored, are both in the liked category by this reviewer and this new one is no exception. Lately, something that is out of the normal realm of the Hollywood template will certainly get my attention, and this soundtrack certainly fits the bill. The 20 piece orchestra consists of piano, guitar, 2 bass, 3 percussion, harp, 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, french horn, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, and drums. While certainly not as eclectic as Herrmann and some of his unusual combinations, it is still not designed to produce the tear filling climaxes we are use to. What it does produce is a combination of jazz, chamber, easy listening, and a yet to be determined category, a fusion of all three styles in one or more tracks. The opening track “The Fur” is a good example of this. There is a simple melody, yet the percussion, harp, chamber strings, and guitar blend together with the piano to make it quite mysterious and unique. “My Arms Around Myself” begins as a string quartet piece might then switches midway to include a trio of bass, harp, and piano with the quartet in the background a blend of old and new. The same theme is found in “SeDuction” except in a far more modern vein with electric guitar, piano, drums and bass. “Ad Ultima Thule” is a track which briefly hints at the theme again but is a small study in the use of percussion. Carter returns to the theme yet again in “The Tea Party”, piano bar style fashion with a somewhat traditional jazz quartet ensemble of electric twangy guitar, a nice solo on bass, piano and drums. This is a really cool track that could be expanded on by a jazz ensemble for a nice 15 minute song. “Stepping Out” is a straight jazz track, a scant one minute, but features the trumpet and both saxes. Burwell doesn’t use the brass and saxes much in this score at all. “The Shave” is one of the longer extended tracks which features the theme again with a long excellent piano solo with good backup from the bass and guitar. “Into The Sea” is one of those underscore tracks that is piano driven, excellent easy listening with a nice background of some chamber music thrown in. It depicts the sea as a tranquil reflective place to go to in order to sort out your thoughts.

If you enjoy listening to some jazz selections this score is going to likely be to your fancy. Bill Mays on piano, David Torn on guitar, and Emily Mitchell on harp are first rate and very easy on the ears. While there is some chamber material, some easy listening, and some underscore this is secondary to the jazz material. The Right Track Studios did a first rate job producing material that is crystal clear sounding throughout! Carter had the chores of the orchestrating, the exception rather than the rule. In addition he conducted his own material. While the score has received little or no publicity it is certainly one that should be explored by all means. Recommended.

Lakeshore LKS 338392

Track listing

1. The Fur (03:13)

2. Tango de la Bete (01:25)

3. Scary Times (01:40)

4. Arbus Family Photo Studio (01:55)

5. My Arms Around Myself (01:56)

6. Exposure (00:59)

7. Seduction (01:11)

8. Pipes (01:38)

9. Ad Ultima Thule (03:32)

10. Call of the Wild (01:08)

11. The Tea Party (02:10)

12. Following (02:00)

13. The Run Back Home (01:18)

14. Water Dream (03:15)

15. Stepping Out (01:06)

16. Stepping Out (01:21)

17. Trap Door Party (01:15)

18. Drowning (01:38)

19. End It (01:24)

20. Transmission (02:30)

21. The Shave (05:24)

22. Into the Sea (05:05)

23. I Want to Meet Your Husband (00:53)

Total Duration: 00:47:56

Part of the Elmer Bernstein Filmmusic Collection (Disc. No. 1)


Directed by Robert “Day The Earth Stood Still” Wise, Helen of Troy was a Warner Brothers entry into the “biblical” films from 1956. Hugh Gray (his last film) wrote the film screenplay with John Twist which was adapted from the famous Homer poem The Iliad. Recent years have seen the remake Troy with much controversy in the soundtrack community over the Yared and Horner scores for the film. Such was not the case with the Steiner score! Time has not been kind to Helen of Troy, having never achieved the status of Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis, and The Robe. Perhaps the lack of a major Hollywood star (it starred European’s Rossana Podesta, Jacque Sernas, and Stanley Baker), box office competition at the time of the release, or any number of things contributed to the lack of popularity.

Helen of Troy(1955) is a nice enough score to listen to and offers to the listener a fabulous “Love Theme”, one written in the style of some of his great themes such as Now Voyager. It fills the air with wonderful romance, something that Max was one of the very best at doing. With the exception of the proud horns calling out the beginning of the film the “Main Title” also features the romantic love theme as does the “Finale”. “The Battle” is a horn driven track which if played at a slightly faster pace almost reminds one of a cartoon or silent movie! “Victory-Trojan Horse” switches gears to some swelling after the ‘storm style music’ and promptly reminds me of an older jungle style cue until Max switches back to the romantic love theme. “Bacchanal” reminds me more of a Borodin exotic middle eastern dance as opposed to a drunken orgy. All of the music is quite pleasant enough to listen to it just doesn’t appear to fit the kind of film. Archaic sounding it is not to my ears which is what this reviewer was expecting to hear. There are other recordings of this material far more complete in the marketplace if you wish to pursue this soundtrack further.

A Summer Place (1959) might have appeared to be out of place for the 71 year old Steiner but this was hardly the case. Quite provocative in its day the Delmer Daves directed film starring Troy Donahue, Sandra Dee, Richard Egan, and Dorothy McQuire got people to flock to the box office in droves. While the storyline of the Sloan Wilson novel is quite tame by todays standard the music has held up extremely well. “Main Title & Arrival at Summer Place” introduces us to the first love theme similiar in style to the Helen of Troy love theme. It is very soothing and comforting with a nice string performance with a little enhancing from the harp. The famous theme made famous by Percy Faith and was written for Molly (Dee) and Johnny (Donahue) in many of their scenes together was not the main theme but didn’t appear till later. On this Bernstein recording it appears on the “Young Love Scene” track as well as others. Overall, the recording is more of a highlight CD, touching on the main themes of the score. While nice, it doesn’t approach the scope and completeness of the FMA-MS112 Screen Archives recording. Logging in at 76+ minutes compared to 20 the overall choice of recordings is quite clear if you are interested in this soundtrack.

The overall quality of this recording is fine and the liner notes are ok as far as they go. This is one of the CD’s that doesn’t give you a track by track analysis of the music. There is also no mention as to the orchestra that was used for the recording.

This is one of the weaker entries in the Bernstein Box and while A Summer Place is certainly one of Steiner’s better efforts the Screen Archive is the choice. Helen of Troy, is just one of the weaker efforts from Max period. It has been reported that he wasn’t too keen on the film to begin with and the overall score reflects that.

Golden Score Rating (**1/2)

Recording Engineer Richard Lewzey

Produced by Dan Gordon

Track Listing for Disc No. 1

1. Main Title (01:46)

2. Paris’ Farewell (03:04)

3. Love Theme (02:04)

4. Battle (04:34)

5. Victory – Trojan Horse (03:13)

6. Bacchanal (01:38)

7. Finale (04:02)

TRACKS 1-7: Helen Of Troy (1956) / composed by Max Steiner

8. Main Title & Arrival At Summer Place (03:35)

9. Young Love Scene (04:45)

10. Father & Daughter (02:18)

11. Reunion in Boathouse (04:03)

12. Molly Runs Away (02:20)

13. Finale (02:30)

TRACKS 8-13: A Summer Place (1959) / composed by Max Steiner

Total Time is 40:41

Quo Vadis & Ben Hur/Rozsa

December 26, 2006


There are many times that the soundtrack community complains about a complete void of any recording in regard to a particular film. Films such as Shane, Lost Weekend, Heiress, and many others are less than complete in the release of the soundtrack material. Films such as Devil and Daniel Webster and The Red Pony only have concert suites of some of the material in the film. This cannot be said about Quo Vadis & Ben Hur. These were recordings that crossed over into the hands of countless people who had little or no interest in what the soundtrack was truly interested in. They just wanted to enjoy the beautiful themes both scores contained. This review is more like talking about a particular recording of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony from Toscanni and comparing it to one that Reiner did with the Chicago Symphony. Yet it is more difficult than that because with a recording of Beethoven there are four movements which you play in a more or less subscribed amount of time. Each recording of Ben Hur & Quo Vadis are going to have different tracks chosen, in concert form or from the original soundtrack. At last count (12-06) there were (73) recordings of Ben Hur listed in the Soundtrack Collector database. This could range from one theme on a compilation to a (2) plus hour recording of nearly all of the music from the film. Quo Vadis is a bit easier with only (31) to choose from!

This Dutton/Vocalion recording is a remastering of the Decca LP’s #4394 and #4430 from 1977 and 1978 with Rozsa conducting the National and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Both biblical scores earned Oscar nominations for Miklos with Ben Hur giving him his third and final Oscar. The (2) CD set consists of 87+ minutes of material, which while far from complete is still a nice selection of all of the major material from the films. The first track of the Ben Hur CD “Fanfare to Prelude-Star of Bethlehem-Adoration of the Magi” is a very nice rendition of the Christ leitmotif/theme (the notes from the organ always gets me) and is a wonderful introduction to the themes. “Rowing of the Galley Slaves”, one of my favorite tracks, starts out in a plodding pace, the timpani leading the way and then it increases faster and faster with the trumpets answering the strings and by the time the finale is reached the piece is quite frantic and loud How many times in my marching band days did I perform the famous “Parade of the Charioteers”? Why do I remember the band leaders words that you must remain in step (trombone front row far left was my position) because if you are out of step the entire band is out of step! Was this composition as much of a staple in school as a Sousa march? Yup I sure think so and what a wonderful track even for the trombone! “Leper’s Search for the Christ”, while the theme is different from Lost Weekend I can hear the yearning straining chords of the alcoholic Don Birnham in New York. The concluding track, “Miracle and Finale”, with a choral version of “Alleuia” is a thing to behold.

Not to be outdone Quo Vadis, preferred by some to Ben Hur, begins with famous trumpet calls, the chorus singing “Quo Vadis Domine”, and this wonderous score begins in the “Prelude”. “Marcus and Lygia” is one of the more beautiful love themes (played on the Cor Anglais) and in a word is stunning. “Aftermath” has some very fine underscore, “Assyrian Dance” a wonderful middle eastern flavor piece, “Hail Galba” another stunning march, “Finale” the restatement of the “Prelude” with the chorus just angelic!

The Michael J. Dutton remaster is outstanding! He achieves absolute silence in the background and retains some if not all of the warmth. This reviewer is very impressed. A brief explanation of what was done to achieve the high level of remastering would have been helpful but the bottom line is that its not really necessary. It won’t sound any better or worse with or without an explanation. The liner notes are courtesy of Alan Hamer,the European representative of the Miklos Rozsa Society. They are very informative.

Between the two scores there are a (100) or so choices of what to get. The advantages of this one are fairly simple and straight forward. It is Rozsa conducting nearly 90 minutes of his music for an affordable price. It will not satisfy the complete collector who requires as much of the score as possible, as he needs to look at other recordings. But it will satisfy many and it is recommended for this reason.

Golden Scores Rating is (***1/2).

Remastered by Michael J. Dutton

Track Listing

Disc/Cassette 11. QUO VADIS: Prelude (02:09)

2. QUO VADIS: Marcus and Lygia (04:00)

3. QUO VADIS: Fertility Hymn (01:25)

4. QUO VADIS: The Burning Of Rome (03:41)

5. QUO VADIS: Petronius’ Banquet/Meditation and Death (04:31)

6. QUO VADIS: Ave Caesar (04:51)

7. QUO VADIS: Chariot Chase (03:07)

8. QUO VADIS: Assyrian Dance (01:57)

9. QUO VADIS: Aftermath (Death Of Poppae/Nero’s Suicide) (05:07)

10. QUO VADIS: Hail Galba (01:57)

11. QUO VADIS: Finale (04:37)

12. QUO VADIS: Epilogue (02:53)

Disc/Cassette 2

1. BEN HUR: Fanfare To Prelude/Star Of Bethlehem/Adoration Of the Magi (07:52)

2. BEN HUR: Friendship (03:48)

3. BEN HUR: The Burning Desert (05:19)

4. BEN HUR: Arrius’ Party (01:42)

5. BEN HUR: Rowing Of the Galley Slaves (02:36)

6. BEN HUR: Parade Of the Charioteers (03:28)

7. BEN HUR: The Mother’s Love (02:48)

8. BEN HUR: Return To Judea (02:29)

9. BEN HUR: Ring For Freedom (02:47)

10. BEN HUR: Leper’s Search For the Christ (03:08)

11. BEN HUR: Procession To Calvary (04:42)

12. BEN HUR: Miracle and Finale (05:33)

Total Duration: 01:26:27

Pan’s Labyrinth/Navarrete

December 23, 2006


Guillermo “Hellboy” Del Toro directed and wrote the screenplay for this golden globe nominated film in the best foreign language category. It is set for a US release at the end of December 2006. Taking place in the post-Civil War 1944 Spain it tells a story of the civil war strife along with a fantasy tale of fairies and magical lands. The success in the US will likely be limited in that it will appear with subtitles so look toward seeing it at the arthouses as opposed to the multiplex complexes.

Navarrete, who this reviewer has limited experience with, has created a score that has interest from start to finish with a special accolade going to the lullaby. No its not Brahm’s lullaby its better! It appears first with the voice (no words) of Lua in the first track “Long Long Time Ago”. It is a straight forward simplistic but quite effective arrangement beginning with the voice and long notes from the strings, the piano is added with simple single notes followed by a brief appearance of the chorus and the strings. It reminds me of the theme from a french film such as Love Story from Lai. The theme or hints of it are used in “Pans Labyrinth Lullaby”, performed quite eloquently on solo violin, “Mercedes Lullaby” it reappears in vocal form, solo piano in “A Tale”, full romantic orchestral version in “Ofelia”, and also in the “Princess”. In fact as one listens to all of the 21 tracks which total over 73 minutes there are several different reminders of other styles we have heard from other composers. Small hints of Eastwood (solo piano in the beginning of “The Labyrinth”, Bernard Herrmann’s Macabre Concerto from Hangover Square in “Deep Forest”; a dissonant brash piano phrase with violins and pounding timpani, and a brief statement of Bride of Frankenstein from Waxman in “Pan and the Full Moon”. No these are not rips just a phrase or two that reminded me of the films.

This is a soundtrack that you can put on and listen to from start to finish and never be bored with underscore material that is sometimes confusing unless you have seen the picture. Each and every track is interesting and varied from the lush piano sonata in “The Funeral” to the Spanish influenced “Guerilleros”, almost comedic “The Refuge”, the sheer horror of “Deep Forest” and of course that wonderful lullaby and all of its variations. It isn’t often these days that we are given a memorable theme, one strong enough that a person might even hum it leaving the theater. Oh wait they don’t want you to do that anymore but Del Toro must have forgotten! Its so nice that he did and because of that it not only is one that I can recommended to you but it has to be one of the very best of 2006. There is so much more that I could say about it but just go and get the score and enjoy it over and over like I have done writing this review.

Track listing

1. Long, Long Time Ago (02:11)

Hace mucho, mucho tiempo

2. The Labyrinth (04:04)

El laberinto

3. Rose, Dragon (03:34)

La rosa y el dragón

4. The Fairy and the Labyrinth (03:33)

El hada y el laberinto

5. Three Trials (02:04)

Las tres pruebas

6. The Moribund Tree and the Toad (07:08)

El árbol que muere y el sapo

7. Guerrilleros (02:05)


8. A Book of Blood (03:47)

El libro de sangre

9. Mercedes Lullaby (01:36)

Nana de Mercedes

10. The Refuge (01:32)

El refugio

11. Not Human (05:52)

El que no es humano

12. The River (02:48)

El río

13. A Tale (01:52)

Un cuento

14. Deep Forest (05:45)

Bosque profundo

15. Vals od the Mandrake (03:38)

Vals de la mandrágora

16. The Funeral (02:42)

El funeral

17. Mercedes (05:34)


18. Pan and the Full Moon (05:04)

La luna llena y el fauno

19. Ofelia (02:16)


20. A Princess (03:59)

Una princesa

21. Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby (01:47)

Nana del laberinto del fauno

Total Duration: 01:12:51



December 21, 2006


If nothing else, the 2006 award for the best film title has to go to Frostbite. A Swedish vampire film is the last thing that this reviewer would think of from the title and it is being advertised as the very first one that Sweden has ever done! I could think of a holiday comedy, serious drama, but not a vampire film. And leave it to Mikael (executive producer and owner of Movie Score Media) once again to find a very nice soundtrack inserted into a film that is very likely to never be released to the multiplex theaters. The plot of vampires terrorizing a Swedish town is enough for me to move onto the next film. In fact when the download was sent to me my reaction was not another violin slashing, shrieking, synthesized score with wailing voices in the background. Yikes there is no way this review is ever going to get done! Yet my curiosity was enough to get me to download and listen to it and I am certainly glad that I did.

The first track “War” starts out with a slow steady ominous beat from the timpani, something which is a foretelling sign of the danger to come! It is followed by the main theme of the score, something which Lledo uses selectively so you will remember it after listening to the soundtrack. However, it is not over used to the point of being a monothematic work. While it is the major theme and the only one that I could recall three months from now and tell you the name of the movie, there are other themes and several good tracks. “Ukraine 1944” uses the strings in a simple two note statement answered by the timpani and then repeated again. This reflects the upcoming tension of the film in a simple but effective manner. In fact the overall use of the percussion in this score was extremely well used, sparse but very nicely placed. “Abandoned Cabin” shows the quiet serene side of Anthony with oboe solo and soft strings. “The Vampire” is a great track! He again uses the timpani effectively but along with it a harp glissando, a couple of piano notes, and the percussion which all builds it up to the tension of an abrupt frantic racing of the violins as the terror and action begin! This selective use of the harp, piano and other instruments is effective! There is just the one statement and then it is gone and something else might appear almost like a quick short sound effect but enough to get your attention.

The soundtrack itself is a scant 33 minutes and has 22 tracks which means that several of them are one minute or less. Yes it is written for the film but as a stand alone listening experience 40 second tracks are a bit more difficult to listen to. The minute you settle into something its gone with a short silent pause until the next track comes on. A minor annoyance that you just have to live with if you want to enjoy a young artists first major score. And this is a good score far superior to the standard template stuff from a horror film. No Anthony is still not in the same league as Rozsa yet. But he has flown past the likes of Dooley and Cmiral with their most recent horror scores (When A Stranger Calls and Pulse). This is the 15th release in the series and the fourth that I have reviewed for Movie Score Media. All have had their interesting moments and this one is no exception. While “Headspace” had some good sax/jazz work, “Land of the Blind” had great use of kazoos, “Dark” had some nice tone poem moments, this one made excellent use of percussion along with a great main theme. As is the case with all of his releases this one is also only available as a download on the Movie Score Media Shop. 320kbit is the standard, which is extremely high quality, very close to an original CD. For your information some of the itunes downloads are only 128kbit considerably lower in quality. In fact most people can detect an immediate difference between a CD and a 128kbit in a A+B comparision. Recommended.


To many of you William Alwyn (1905-1985) is a name that you likely are not familiar with at all. Yet, between 1936 and 1963 he composed music for over 200 films. He was also a serious classical composer, a painter, and an accomplished poet. I find it quite ironic that he will be most remembered for his Lyra Angelica because the famous figure skater Michelle Kwan performed to it at the 1998 Olympics. I quote Alwyn from Chandos liner notes: ” I had many offers from Hollywood, but remembering those, once famous, composers who had responded to its lures only to have their talents dimmed and even obliterated by the demands of the film world, I resisted the temptation. In spite of my interest in film making, I was first and foremost a serious composer and each film score I had written was an opportunity for experiment and an exceptional chance, given the splendid orchestras who played my scores, to improve and polish my technique and widen my dramatic range”. It is for this reason that an introduction to the serious classical side is an important one, to better get to know this fine composer. And what better way than a low cost new Naxos release of many of his shorter works.

While the beginning movement of Elizabethan Dances is a piece about Elizabeth I it sure sounds to this reviewer like a sequence for an American Indian war dance complete with the tom-tom beat. As one listens picture a bonfire with Indians dancing around it and see if you don’t feel the same way that I do! The second section is a wonderful waltz slow and very easy on the ears. The third section is an old English style Morris Dance a style dating back to the 1400’s. The fourth section with the brass and castanets and the modern sounding style could easily have come from Bernstein’s West Side Story. Not sure how this relates to Elizabeth II but its a nice sounding composition. The fifth section is a serene quite Pavane and the final section is a lively modern sounding one with Alwyn making really effective use of his brass section. An excellent work that was written in 1957 it certainly is overall quite modern sounding and could make effective film music. The most intriguing work is the Symphonic Prelude “The Magic Island”(1952). This piece is mysterious with references to Debussy and Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead. It features a haunting solo on first the Cor Anglais followed by a yearning violin building to a crescendo before fading away to nothing. The work was based on the Shakespeare play The Tempest, the Magic Island being that of Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan. The Festival March is going to conjure up thoughts of Elgar and Walton in the traditional British style. Very proud and proper it was originally commissioned by the Arts of Great Britain for a 1951 festival and Alwyn did not disappoint in anyway. The Inumerable Dance-An English Overture (1933) was first played in 1935 and remained on the shelf until 70 years later when this recording was made! It is a wonderful work based on the poetry of William Blake and is a nice example of a nature piece. Aphrodite in Aulis-An Eclogue for small orchestra also dates from the early 30’s and is based on Aphrodite from a George Moore novel. It is scored for flutes, horns, harp, and strings and is truly a thing of beauty. It too had remained on the shelf for over 70 years. One sometimes ponders why it has taken so many years to surface and be performed. Perhaps anything new is going to raise the eyebrow of the concert goer so the program director chooses safe and conservative. The William Alwyn Foundation provided financial assistance for this recording so it is likely the reason that these two premiere works were included. The final selection is a Concerto for Oboe, Harp, and Strings (1943) and is a nice piece to enjoy the soulful sounds of the oboe. Jonathan Small, the soloist, seems to be quite comfortable with this work and performs it well.

This is a CD that could very well be a starting point for you in two different ways. If the style and orchestrations are to your liking, you can very easily move onto the other four in the Naxos cycle and explore more of what he has to offer. You can also choose any or all of three different recordings in the Chandos series. Most of Alywn’s film work was destroyed from a housecleaning at Pinewood Studios (sound familiar) in England so nothing remains other than reconstruction from Christopher Palmer and recently Philip Lane. Listening to serious works from film composers has always been a real treat for me. Some, such as this recording are a joy to listen to. The advantage of a tone poem is the composer has time to fully develop his ideas where in film he might only be allowed 60 seconds. He can certainly bring across his overall ideas but it might be more of a patchwork concept. Like Copland, Arnold, and others Alwyn was first classical and then a film composer the reverse of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. This is definitely worth exploring! Recommended.

Golden Score Rating is ***

Engineer is Phil Rowlands

Produced by Anna Barry

CD# is Naxos 8.570144


Based on the novel The Nine Days of Father Serra by Isabelle Zigler and starring Anthony Quinn and Michael Rennie, the film has some interest to this reviewer living in San Diego, the background to much of this film, albiet the filming took place in Mexico. Father Serra is a vital part of the history of this city as he started here in the beginning. The 1955 20th Century Fox film was co-produced by Barbara McLean, a fine film editor, nominated for several Oscars and a winner for Wilson, but a one and out effort in the production field. A small amount of trivia is that Barbara worked on The Rains Came as editor and was nominated for an Oscar. Rains of Ranchipur is the remake of that film and also included in this cd ( The director, Robert Webb, also co-produced. Neither, at least in the area they were working in, could be considered ‘A’ players, thus the film was just another of the many historical epic films produced by Hollywood in the 50’s.

Hugo was either instructed or decided to take the 100% safe route on this soundtrack and scored it exactly as one would think a Spanish/Mexican film should sound. Since this was one of (5) scores he worked on in 1955, it is likely he couldn’t give it as much attention as he wanted to and it suffers in the end as just being another score. Other than the amusing lyrics (assume Hugo wrote them) to the track “Senorita Carmelita” there is little groundbreaking material in this score. In baseball you won’t always hit a homerun or strikeout everytime you come up. Let’s call this one a double, a good at bat. “Jose and Usula” is a poignant love theme track which is reminiscent in style of material written for Broken Arrow. Unfortunately this is one of the tracks that suffers from the ravages of time and has noticeable flutter in it. “Enough To Do” is an underscore track of religious nature that also suffers from the ‘fluttering’ to the point of annoyance. “Lieutenant Exits” is a wonderful track and an excellent example of what Hugo can sound like at his finest! An oboe solo, wonderful brass harmonizing chords, the yearning violins are all there. The “Main Title” is exactly what our brain thinks we should hear for a genre of this nature, a proud hispanic brass sounding theme which is repeated in “With Beads” and other tracks. And while it isn’t a theme that you truly have to listen for, it is not one that can be put into the category of memorable. “Staff Exits” is a typical Mexican hat dance style selection complete with brass and tambourines. “Column Through The Pass” was recorded to emphasis the percussion, likely a separate microphone. The bongo is used to create a knocking sound while the tambourine sounds like the rattle of a snake. This is all while the orchestra is performing another variation of the main title.

In a way I can understand why it has taken 50+ years for an official U.S. release by Varese Sarabande to surface. While it is certainly a most listenable score from Friedhofer (all of his scores are), it is not one of his strongest. One can only assume that there was no way to correct the flutter damage which slows the recording down so it is most noticeable. If you consider yourself to be in the audiophile category pass on this one unless you really like Friedhofer. Fans of Hugo have already purchased it as copies are scarce. There were only 1000 pressed to begin with. If at all interested sooner rather than later is the order of the day if one wishes to purchase this. The other part of the score has been reviewed and the link is provided above. Please read and you will understand why the overall recommendation is to purchase if at all possible. And yes those crazy amusing lyrics are in my head from “Senorita Carmelita”! Yikes.

Golden Score Rating **

Track Listing:

1. Main Title (01:27)2. New Spain (01:38)

3. I Never Left Anyone To Die (00:41)

4. Staff Exits (02:30)

5. What’s The Color? (01:26)

6. Column Through The Pass (04:36)

7. Señorita Carmelita (01:46)

8. Lieutenant Exits (02:29)

9. With Beads (01:29)

10. It Isn’t Foolish Like You (02:22)

11. In The Hut (01:51)

12. We Weren’t Saved To Perish (00:56)

13. Plague (01:33)

14. Serra Walks Away (01:15)

15. Jose Salutes Portola (02:44)

16. Enough To Do (03:02)

17. All The Orders (00:54)

18. Indians Exit (00:54)

19. At The Mission (01:25)

20. Jose And Usula (02:48)

21. Portola Returns (01:37)

22. Prayer On The Hilltop (01:11)

23. Death Of Ula (01:45)

24. Sabotage (01:36)

25. Departure (04:15)

26. End Credits (01:19)

Produced by Robert Townson and Nick Redman

Edited and Mastered by Daniel Hersch

CD# is Varese Sarabande VCL 1106 1057

Orchestra is conducted by Lionel Newman

Arranged by Edward B. Powell and Maurice De Packh

Tarvosky Films/Couturier

December 9, 2006


This is not a film score as we know it. This is also not classical music as we know it. Nor is it improvisational jazz either. The intrigue to this CD is the completely unique flavor and character, something which you likely haven’t heard before. The tie in to soundtrack material is the famed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) which is quite odd considering the fact that Andrei’s personal conviction is that film doesn’t need music at all! Couturier, using his films as a starting point, takes a mood in his film, actor in a film, or cameraman and depending on the particular emotion creates a unique story to it. And the quartet! When was the last time you heard an accordion (Jean-Louis Matinier), soprano saxophone (Jean-Marc Larche), cello (Anja Lechner) and piano (Francois Couturier). An extremely unique but most effective combination of instrumentation. And they sounded like they had worked together for years, when in fact they had just recently formed for the first time.

12 selections cover (7) films that Tarkovsky did covering the period of 1962-1986. Especially moving, was Nostalghia, a 1983 film done in Italy when Andrei had defected. Beginning with the piano followed by the soprano sax we hear an eloquent upbeat solo, birdlike, with the constant playing of the same notes from the piano in the background. The cello is added, delicately plucking notes almost sounding like a bass as the accordion replaces the sax as the featured solo instrument. The piano plays it solo and the cello follows with its warm solo and the piece ends as it began with the piano playing the same scale of notes. Solaris (1972), which can be loosely likened to Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, has two tracks Solaris I & II which are quite unstructured in nature. Composed like a series of sounds (noises) each coming from the different instruments it translates itself into something that truly needs to be listened to and studied over a period of time to fully appreciate it. Le Sacrifice (1986), Tarkovsky’s last film and the first selection on the CD is quite dark and extremely somber in nature. This track features the accordion and the piano only in solo and also as a duet. Crepusculaire, also from the Le Sacrifice and the longest of the tracks at over 13 minutes is dedicated to the photographer Sven Nykvist, and offers playing from the cello as well as accordion and piano. Again it is fairly dark and somber in nature as were his films. There is the feeling especially in parts of the piano playing of a yearning and longing never fufilled. Couturier will offer a variety of tempo, switching without warning, quite evident on this track.

This CD has been in the player for two days now and it still feels like I am missing something. Hypnotizing is probably the best word that can be used to describe what you hear and yearning is the way much of it will make you feel. If you enjoy soundtracks, classical or jazz you will find this offering to be quite inviting. As stated earlier you cannot classify this as a film material but the crossover concept that it has to offer is so intriguing that as a reviewer it is quite fortunate that it was sent to me to cover and evaluate. It is one that I would have completely missed had it not been for the promotion company that sends me material that they feel is appropriate so that in turn it can be passed on to you.

As a side note the 28 page booklet contains some very nice photos from the Tarkovsky films as well as pictures of Tarvosky himself and the quartet. The recording and sound quality of the #1979 ECM CD are superb. This recording is going to surprise you but a word of caution please! It is not background, elevator, pre-recorded classical, or jazz. Don’t expect to sit and listen to this while you are trying to work on something else. It needs your full attention or you will miss the entire concept.

The Dark/Butt

December 6, 2006


Released in 2005 in England, Netherlands, and Germany The Dark has the distinction of being the first film to be based on the Welsh mythology “Annwn” which is the land of the dead. As of this writing it has never been released in the US in either the theater or DVD. Both the composer and the director John Fawcett are quite well known in television circles having worked together on Bon Voyage. In fact, Edmund is going back to work on television for David E. Kelley of Boston Legal fame on a new series called Life on Mars, scheduled for release in 2007. No its not about life on Mars but a detective being thrown back in time to the 70’s.

“The Dark”, or the main theme begins with an eerie statement of slightly off key strings being answered by the horns playing two stoic notes over and over leading us to the theme hummed by a child (s) voice and then the very solid 4 note motif played first by the brass section and then the strings. It is the best track on this release and one that you will remember after a listen or two to this soundtrack as it is repeated throughout the score several times. Are there some quiet moments? Try “Father and Daughter” for its serenity. Except for the whining the last few seconds (some sort of danger signal) it is quite peaceful in its approach. Are there some loud droning violins, haunting voices, weird sound effects, distorted brass chords, yup. A typical modern sounding horror score. There seems to be some sort of unwritten formula and many of them follow the same template and this one for part of the soundtrack at least does the same thing. Listen to “Torture” and that is exactly what this reviewer had to go through! But, mixed in amongst all of this there are the tracks described above and the last track a well above average underscore one called “Can You Be My Daddy?”. The serious training Edmund had shows through with a somewhat classical style conclusion to a tone poem. Something with a little bit of substance to it.

This is issue #13 for Mikael Carlsson/Movie Score Media and as stated previously these are only available through itunes downloading. This allows us to hear and enjoy (hopefully) many lesser known composers who might otherwise never have the opportunity to be released. As an example, checking the very extensive data base at soundtrack collector showed that this was the first listing of a release that Edmund had. Without this opportunity the material would slip through the cracks. Please support this concept as much as possible. If you are a fan of horror scores this is an excellent release for you. If you are a soundtrack fan there are enough interesting tracks to make it worthwhile for you. Check it out.

The Return/Marianelli

December 4, 2006


It seems like lately there have been a lot of single word film releases and it is becoming a bit confusing. We have recently had The Dark, The Departed, The Prestige, and now another thriller/horror film The Return, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar best known for her role as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The film also stars the veteran Sam Shepard and is directed by a relative newcomer Asif Kapadia. Drawn to a farmhouse where a murder was committed 15 years ago she discovers secrets she shouldn’t and that maybe they should have stayed hidden. With a 15 million dollar budget, the film does benefit from better special effects etc., but the first two weekend gross of 7 million dollars was deemed as disappointing by Rogue Pictures, although there was very little advertising at least in the Southern California area.

Marianelli, fast moving up the ladder of success with recent assignments for V for Vendetta, and Pride and Prejudice, approaches this score in a different fashion from many of the horror/slasher/thriller films. This movie soundtrack definitely benefits from being recorded by The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. It doesn’t have that synthetic, brash, droning, and non music sound that many of the other horror scores offer these days. “The Girl With Two Souls”, as an example, is mysterious, slow building, and quiet, featuring only the strings, percussion, and woodwind sections. It is highly ominous in nature and you just know that it is foretelling things to come especially the use of the wind chimes! “Memory Lane” features some acoustic guitar strumming, a bit different from the norm for a horror movie, but it still has that ominous foreboding sound. “Terry Warms Up” is about as romantic as Dario was allowed to get on this score with some soft piano and clarinet work in a very largo track. “A Close Shave” and “Griff’s Garage” are more like what you might hear in a horror score but even these tracks are not over the top in terms of disturbing effects and noise. “Sweet Dreams (Of You)” sung by Patsy Cline is used as a signal that something supernatural is going to occur in the film. There are a couple of themes that are repeated several times in the score, not ones that your going to whistle leaving the theater or one that is going to be swirling around in your head but they are there and subtle like the overall score. “Sea Horses”, the final track, sums the soundtrack up quite nicely with a restatement from “The Girl With Two Souls” complete with the wind chimes.

There was a time when just the words Slovak Symphony would immediately put up a red flag. It could be ok or less than making you ponder why did my hard earned money go towards this? Didn’t my high school band sound just as good? Or certainly my college ensemble was better. This is no longer the case! The Slovak Symphony has learned the craft of recording soundtracks quite well these days and in most cases can be considered an asset and not a liability. That also can be said about the recordings and engineering as well. There use to be recordings which sounded like the mikes were set up 200 feet away from the orchestra producing a hollow distant sound. This recording is correctly miked! This recording is correctly played! If you haven’t already done so it is time to introduce yourself to Dario Marianeli. Put this score into the category of one of the better releases in 2006. It is recommended, definitely a thumbs up.