Reign Over Me/Kent

April 29, 2007

Released by Columbia Pictures in April 2007 in the US with a 20 million dollar budget, Reign Over Me stars Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle and Donald Sutherland. The story revolves around two former college roomates, one who has lost his family and more in the horrible 9/11 tragedy and the other who appears to have it all but really doesn’t. It was written and directed by Mike Binder, produced by Jack Binder and Mike and he also has a supporting role in the film, along with Molly Binder making some of this a family affair of sorts. This is one of those sometimes happy, sometimes tear jerking, sometimes comedic, and sometimes tragic type of film that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire picture. The first weekend of its release returned 13 million so it looks like it will be a successful picture money wise.

Rolfe Kent, who you may know and enjoy from his films Sideways and About Schmidt wrote the solemn, quirky, light jazzy score. This is the original motion soundtrack recording so there is no Pearl Jam song or any of several other that appear in the film. “Charlies Theme” is a nice original softer jazz beginning with the piano introduction and buildup for the saxophone of Dan Higgins, raspy tightly miked to record every note perfectly. I remember some of Dan’s fine work for John Williams on his Catch Me If You Can album. I was impressed then and I still am. “Remar’s Theme” is more of the same type of jazz combo material with the addition of an accordian for one short riff. “Alan And Charlie” is more of that light jazz improvization style except this time it shifts from sax to clarinet with the steady harmony of the piano. This is the type of music that you will hear in a piano lounge, pleasant to listen to but fairly generic. It is never allowed to fully develop into something that could be more noteworthy. “Learning What Has Happened to Charlie” is soft piano theme surrounded by guitars as it develops the motif. It is quite thought provoking but it is all too brief and not what one would call a memorable theme one would whistle walking down the street. The theme is repeated in the last track “A Lonely Life” amongst a electronic percussion background. “Alan’s Parents” has more of that sound that your accustomed to hearing from Rolfe with the calypso beat and quirky percussion. “Alan Recognizes…/Breakfast Alone With The Family” is a good track with some cool percussion, banjo like plucking and simple piano playing followed by the piano giving us another melody/motif with guitar and percussion.

This entire score is essentially acoustic from a 7 piece combo which includes Kent performing piano, guitars & vocals. It is extremely low key written to blend into the background of the film. It is there and present but your not really aware of its presence. It is truly landscape well written soundtrack material that rolls back and forth between comedy and tragedy. If you enjoy the film and are a music lover you will enjoy this soundtrack immensely, keeping in mind that there are no songs from the film. This information is referenced on the CD but bears repeating. This CD is also an excellent one to have on in the background while you are reading, relaxing or studying. Nothing even close to being over the top in anyway. If you are more interested in i-tunes, particularly light jazz, the tracks “Charlie’s Theme”, “Remar’s Theme”, and “Alan and Charlie” would be good choices. The recording and mixing are good, in fact the sax recording is well above average.

The Big Country/Moross

April 27, 2007

 


Big_country_LLLCD1055

As of this writing in April 2007 there are 35 recordings of The Big Country including compilations and a bootleg listed in Soundtrack Collector, the database of film music. With that information I had to ask MV Gerhard, owner of La-La Land Records, why are you releasing yet another version? “Because I like it and its one of my favorite scores” was the long and the short answer. Both the SAE and this La-La Land recording are virtually identical. There is a small but significant improvement in the remastering over the SAE release. This is an official release albiet a limited edition of 3000, as opposed to the SAE release which was a promo for the Film Music Society and the Moross family. As a result only 400 hundred copies were ever legitimately offered to the general public. There is also a small repair that was made in the track “The Raids Part 1&2” to the timpani solo bridge between the parts. It now is a much smoother transition between the sections. And please to set the record straight this is a mono OST recording from the United Artists film. Remastering doesn’t equal digitally recorded quality.

The 4 million dollar William Wyler directed film had an all star cast of Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Carroll Baker. Burl Ives won a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Rufus Hannassey and deservedly so. The scenery and filming were spectacular. The big country, big stars, big budget were all played up in its release. The film met with less than reviews. It wasn’t a matter of disliking it but more of a scenario of not being swept off your feet by it. It is a good film with some interesting dialog and storyline but nothing spectacular. All save the Oscar nominated score which is entirely another story. The score is spectacular! Jerome Moross, a concert composer who did some film work, created a masterpiece which just sounds big! The “Main Title” which is played and performed on nearly ever Western compilation ever put together is the soul of Western and Americana film and concert music. You can’t not think of the west without humming this wonderful tune. It is used in several of the tracks usually as a bold expansive look at the scenery but also in tender moments with a solo violin or a lush romantic moment in “Big Muddy” or almost broadway like in “McKay is Missing”. And this is just the main theme! There are enough themes in this score to fill up several modern scores of today! There are themes for Pat, Julie, Major Terrill, the fight, and the abduction. “The Welcoming”, another expansive western theme, could just as well have been the main theme. “The Hazing”, “Courtin’ Time”, “Julie’s House”, and “Polka” are just some of the inventive themes all different. There is a short 1+ minute horror/sci-fi dissonant track in “Horror Stories”, “The Fight” with its strains and hints of The Cardinal at the end of the cue but the beginning is almost Herrmann like with its creepy bassoon chords repeating and repeating. “Cattle at the River”, a scene where the Hannassey’s were turned away for water, and one of the more exciting cues is included on this OST but was not part of the final film. In fact while viewing one part of the film where McKay (Peck) is trying to ride Old Thunder I found the music to be part missing and part lacking only to find that on the soundtrack the proper music was actually there in “McKay’s Decision” and “McKay’s Triumph” but not included in the film.

Some of the names that went on to bigger and better things were Alexander Courage, Gerald Fried, Dominic Frontiere, and John Williams. The liner notes by Randall Larson are as always superb. I only wish I knew 1/10th of what he knows. The liner pictures are a bit confusing! There is a picture of Leech and the colonel but the quote underneath the picture has to do with a conversation between Leech and McKay? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have had a picture of them with the quote underneath?

In conclusion, there is really very little discussion necessary as to how great this score is. There can be heated debates as to the merits of the film itself but William Wyler at least for me has directed three pictures which contain some of the greatest soundtracks of all time: The Best Years Of Our Lives, Ben-Hur, and The Big Country. Friedhofer, Rozsa, and Moross make quite a dynamic trio! If you have nothing then there is really no decision to be made at all, get this recording. If you have the LP issue from 1958 then get this recording. If you have never viewed the film and are more concerned with the sound quality the Silva release SSD 1048 or variation of is the answer for you. It is a faithful reproduction of 55+ minutes of the score and is recorded in a digital format, performed quite nicely by Tony Bremner and The Philharmonia Orchestra. As good as Nelson is at Digital Outland he can still only do so much with a mono analog recording. Since there were only ever a few hundred copies of the SAE recording it can be eliminated from this discussion as a non factor. In case you do have it and $20.00 won’t break the bank get this La-La Land recording anyway. There is certainly enough merit to warrant $20.00. Keep the SAE and enjoy the 64 page book that came with it! This soundtrack is in the top 100 of all time and comes with my highest recommendation!

Golden Score Rating (*****)

La-La Land LLLCD 1055

Produced by Ford A. Thaxton

Edited and Mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland

Track listing

1. Main Title (03:21)

2. Julie’s House (02:10)

3. The Welcoming (03:09)

4. The Hazing (01:49)

5. Courtin’ Time (01:21)

6. The Terrill Ranch (01:35)

7. Old Thunder (01:40)

8. The Raid Parts 1 & 2 (03:39)

9. McKay’s Decision (01:03)

10. The Capture (01:28)

11. McKay’s Triumph (00:35)

12. Major Terrill’s Party (01:30)

13. Major Terrill’s Party – Part 2 (01:09)

14. Waltz (02:16)

15. Polka (00:54)

16. Night In Blanco Canyon (00:52)

17. McKay’s Ride (01:20)

18. McKay Is Missing (02:02)

19. The Old House (02:18)

20. Waiting (00:30)

21. Horror Stories (01:04)

22. Big Muddy (02:33)

23. Still Waiting (01:37)

24. McKay Alone (01:20)

25. Night At Ladder Ranch (01:09)

26. The Fight (02:54)

27. Cattle At The River (02:21)

28. Pat’s Mistake (01:20)

29. Buck Comes For Julie (01:12)

30. The Abduction (01:10)

31. The Captive (01:34)

32. The Attempted Rape (02:10)

33. The War Party Gathers (02:39)

34. McKay In Blanco Canyon (02:27)

35. Jim And Julie (00:35)

36. The Major Alone (01:51)

37. The Duel (00:51)

38. The Death Of Buck Hannassey (02:44)

39. Ambush In Blanco Canyon – Part 1 (01:16)

40. Ambush In Blanco Canyon – Part 2 (01:47)

41. The Stalking (01:21)

42. End Title (01:59)

Total Duration: 01:12:35

 

Hollywood Suite/Grofe

April 23, 2007

 

Ferde Grofe, if familiar to you at all, will forever be remembered in classical music as the composer of the Grand Canyon Suite, first performed in November of 1931 by his then current employer Paul Whiteman to much critical acclaim. Subsequently, it has been played and recorded by hundreds of orchestras throughout the world, ranging from Arturo Toscanni and the NBC Symphony Orchestra to a great intrepretation by Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra to Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops complete with digitally recorded thunderclaps to heighten the “Cloudburst” movement. This reviewer will always remember Grofe for his brilliant orchestration of Rhapsody in Blue, the composition of George Gershwin, which some will argue as the finest work of the 20th century. However, Ferde also loved to write other suites, and this Naxos release features three different genres written between 1935 and 1954. Much of his work is directly linked to his life experiences with many of the things he wrote about, resulting in program material filled with melodies and orchestrations complete with sound effects that conjure up all sorts of scenes in your mind if you allow it to. This is the kind of music to lay back in your chair with your feet up and just relax and enjoy. This is landscape music in the true meaning of the now over used phrase.

Hollywood Suite has nothing to do with any melodies, scores, or films of the time but does feature a story which Grofe briefly explains and then proceeds to write, arrange, and orchestrate a wonderful suite around. It begins simply with a janitor sweeping up from the night before beautifully reproduced with brushes on the cymbal and a cool theme first on the bassoon and then the clarinet. The extra girl appears and the theme now carried by the strings plays a waltz like melody of the girl waiting to be discovered but alas no. Bustling about, the carpenters and electricians prepare the set for the big dance number in a American In Paris style orchestration frantic with brass and percussion. The “Production number” or the dance is a big band style number with the swinging saxes and clarinets, sliding bones, slam bang drumming and even tap dance clicking. If Ginger Rogers doesn’t cross your mind you don’t know who she is! The finale has a touch of classical chords as the production winds down to the carpenters and electricians again (one can hear the strains of the style of Rhapsody in Blue) to finally the extra and the sweeper doing his thing once again. Written in 1935 with a ballet in mind it was eventually constructed into a suite in 1938.

The Hudson River Suite, was an idea that the conductor Andre Kostelanetz had and approached Ferde with it in 1954, something Grofe found interesting enough to come up with quite a varied suite. Yes it is similiar in style and flavor to his beloved Grand Canyon Suite but upon more serious listening there truly is a distinct difference to it from other suites he composed. “The River” with its great melody depicts the flowing of the great river. “Henry Hudson” is a patriotic stoic piece of the famous navigator. “Rip van Winkle”, something which Grofe began work on in 1932 as an idea, is complete with dog barking and bowling sound effects! “Albany Night Boat” is a lush romantic track except for a moment or two of dixieland. “New York” depicts the hustle and bustle of the city in a short concluding track.

Death Valley Suite was actually given its premiere performance at Desolation Canyon in California in front of 65,000 people! As was the case with Hollywood Suite Ferde wrote a little story telling the tale of the early pioneers attempting to make it across the Valley of Death. The parching sun, Indians, cracking whips, whirring arrows, and swirling wind are just some of the things depicted in the suite. Being an old trombone player I can tell you that there is some very nice work in the “’49er Emigrant Train” track. When they finally find water in “Desert Water Hole” some of the favorite Americana songs are orchestrated into a nice small medley. Grofe loved percussion and certainly put it to excellent use in this suite. The final track “Sand Storm” has a similiar style to “Cloudburst” on Grand Canyon Suite but still is one of the best tracks to listen to. The swirling sand and wind come through loud and clear!

Some of the music could have very easily found its way into a cartoon as the easy going carefree style complete with sound effects really tell great stories. Eleanor Thomason did an excellent job of capturing all of the nuances of the percussion and should be commended for her fine engineering. This was a first class job by Stromberg and the Bournemouth Symphony and has my highest recommendation!

Golden Scores Rating ****1/2

Naxos Recording 8.559017

Engineered by Eleanor Thomason

Track Listing:

Hollywood Suite

1. On the Set-Sweepers (2:59)

2. The Stand-in (3:41)

3. Carpenters and Electricians (3:29)

4. Preview (3:08)

5. Production Number (2:19)

6. Director-Star-Ensemble

Hudson River Suite

7. The River (5:13)

8. Henry Hudson (2:49)

9. Rip Van Winkle (4:29)

10. Albany Night Boat

11. New York!

Death Valley Suite

12. Funeral Mountains (4:08)

13. ’49er Emigrant Train (4:27)

14. Desert Water Hole (3:56)

15. Sand Storm (4:08)

Total Time is 56:14

 

elmer bernstein

 

Fresh off of his best selling big picture hit From Here To Eternity, James Jones had his second novel Some Came Running purchased by MGM before it had been published. Also featuring Frank Sinatra it also starred Shirley MacLaine, Dean Martin, Martha Hyer, and Arthur Kennedy. The 1958 release was directed by Vincent Minnelli and proved to be a good box office success for MGM. While the film garnered Oscar nominations to Martha Hyer, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley MacLaine, the best song “To Love and Be Loved”, and costumes Gigi, another Minnelli picture, stole the show for 1959.

Elmer Bernstein was right at home with writing the score to this sometimes jazz, sometimes serious plus a lot of source material which he personally wrote. In fact over the years Elmer, the true professional he was, was at home with westerns, biblical, comedy, action, jazz, and drama. You name it and he could come up with a quality score. This score was no exception being filled with good dissonant jazz cues, piano lounge music, wonderful romantic cues, a patriotic cue, and even a science fiction sounding cue! As is usually the case the FSM release is over 40 minutes longer than the Capitol LP (36 minutes) Elmer did in a separate recording from the soundtrack. During this time period it was fairly common to do a separate recording as opposed to just releasing the soundtrack material itself. To make it a better listening experience the producer and composer could pick and choose tracks and in most cases never release them in the correct order.

“The Prelude” is a brash jazz theme dominant by brass with dissonant chords from the piano. As is the case with very early stereo there isn’t the balance that is available today so the piano, as an example, is only in the right channel. This track sets the mood for a serious hard boiled drama. Bernstein use of the saxophone at the end of the track makes his style unique and at least for this reviewer easy to recognize. There is a lot more to this score than just jazz! “The View From Parkman” is quite patriotic and reminds you of “Carry Me Back To Old Virginia”. “Thwarted” is an almost Steiner like romantic theme written for the Gwen (Martha Hyer) character. Gwen (Shirley MacLaine) gets her own blues based theme in “Fifty Dollars” and other tracks. With the exception of “To Love and Be Loved” written by Van Heusen and Cahn for the film, and a couple of standard songs such as “After You’ve Gone” and “Blue Moon”, Elmer did all of the writing including many source numbers for the various nightclub and dance sequences. “Pursuit Part 1 and 2” remind me for some reason of a 50’s science fiction film with a Paul Dunlap score. There are some carnival/ merry-go-round tracks all quite the source music. You even get a little bit of Shirley MacLaine singing in quite a raucous fashion in “After You’ve Gone”! And just to set the record straight there are no Sinatra numbers. Frank didn’t sing in the film but did a commercial release of “To Love And Be Loved” on Capitol with Nelson Riddle, recorded on October 15th 1958. This recording coincided with the release of the film and is available in the Reprise 6 CD box set of all the recordings he did for Hollywood as well as other Capitol releases.

The project of bringing all of this material from 3 different sources is well you read the liner notes after you purchase the CD and you’ll be as amazed as I was! There is a weak spot or two with warble but overall it was an excellent job on the part of FSM. This is a release that I can highly recommend to lovers of Elmer Bernstein music and others I feel will find it interesting enough to have as an early jazz period piece from the 50’s.

Track Listing:

1. Prelude (01:47)

2. Fifty Dollars/Home Town (01:05)

3. Dave’s Double Life (02:08)

4. Smitty’s Cocktail Hour/Quonset (00:40)

5. The View From Parkman (01:53)

6. Gwen (00:55)

7. Better Beguine (01:35)

8. Thwarted (01:50)

9. On the Head (01:06)

10. Short Noise (00:29)

11. Like Wow (03:15)

12. Mambo for Ginny (01:30)

13. Fight (01:20)

14. Gwen’s Theme/Metamorphosis (05:24)

15. Frank Rejected (01:13)

16. Tryst (01:50)

17. Comes the Dawn (01:16)

18. Rejection (02:47)

19. To Love and Be Loved (instrumental) (01:57)

20. Dawn at Dawn (00:53)

21. Discovery/Parting (01:48)

22. Ginny (02:24)

23. The Noblest Act (01:14)

24. Tired/No Help/Reflection (01:17)

25. Live It Up (01:29)

26. Pursuit, Part 1 (01:47)

27. Pursuit, Part 2 (01:44)

28. Denouement (02:06)

29. Shock (02:00)

30. Catharsis (00:59)

(tracks 1-30 the score from “Some Came Running” 52’40”)

31. Live It Up/Crocked (02:13)

32. Blues (improvisation)/After You’ve Gone (Henry Creamer & Turner Layton) (02:47)

33. Don’t Blame Me (Jimmy McHugh & Dorothy Fields) (03:21)

34. Blue Moon (Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers) (03:09)

35. Calliope I (01:15)

36. Calliope II (01:34)

37. Calliope III (00:45)

38. Calliope IV (00:49)

39. Waltz Around (01:05)

40. Carnival Corn (02:12)

41. Round and Round (02:02)

42. Mary Go Round and Round (01:23)

43. To Love and Be Loved (vocal) (02:56)

(31-43 bonus tracks)

Total Duration: 01:17:12

FSM Vol 10 No. 1

Produced by Lukas Kendall

Golden Score Rating ***

 

Billy Wilder, 6 time Oscar winner, was winding down a long and illustrious Hollywood career when he tackled the project of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in 1970, a film he produced and directed. With the tie in of Holmes being known to play the violin and his prior working with Rozsa on The Lost Weekend, Five Graves To Cairo, and Double Indemnity, the use of the themes from the Violin Concerto seemed a natural and one that Rozsa was quite excited about doing. Wilder was quite familiar with the recorded version done by Jascha Heifetz and was known to listen to it while working on his next screenplay. While the goal of keeping both types of music concert and film on parallel lines was broken, the music really lended itself to the film and character of Sherlock Holmes so it was a good exception to make. Starring Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page, and Christopher Lee the film did not fare well at the box office as it was not promoted and advertised correctly. Perhaps the idea of the submarine disguised as the Lochness monster complete with Nazi influence was just too far fetched for the Holmes fancier.

One of the difficulties with the making of this score was the huge cuts that the studio forced Wilder to make. Since it was cut from 3 to 2 hours there was a lot of written score material that of course never made it to the film. An excellent example of this is the third track “The Curious Case Of The Upside-Down Room/Pistol Practice” which offers some very well written percussion material. James Fitzpatrick, producer and owner of Tadlow music, was able to trackdown and give us the material in correct order as it was originally filmed. To my knowledge the complete 3 hour version of the film is no longer available for viewing as a so called complete version but the Steve Vertlieb track by track notes explain what the so called stories were about. Even though we can’t watch what might have been we at least know the scene as we are listening to the tracks. Wilder had originally referred to the entire work as a “symphony in four movements” complete with an intermission. Rozsa comments that it “is a sorry travesty of the original and a great disappointed to all involved”. Another example of material being cut, “The Rambunctious Canary”, is an excellent suspense cue filled with some great bassoon and flute work. The cue has a flavor to something that he might have written for a film like Brute Force, full of suspense and intrigue. There are references to Loch Lomond in “To Glenahurich/The Parosol, a nice Scottish theme in “Castles of Scotland-Version 1”, cut from the film as being too Scottish?, and another version of “Castle of Scotland-Version 2” also cut as being too Vienna like, which I do agree with. That version sounds like it could have very easily been part of his film Time After Time. There are also themes/motifs for Von Tirpitz and the Trappist Monks, Queen Victoria, and other good underscore material.

However, the majority of the score is based on all three movements of the Concerto. “Gabrielle” offers the best version of the love theme, performed nicely by the concertmaster of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Lucie Svehlova. The opening movement “Main Titles” nicely feature the opening movement of the Concerto and the third movement is given its 30 seconds of fame in “The Monster Strikes”. One of the recommendations of this reviewer is to listen to the Violin Concerto first and then spend some time with the score. You’ll recognize where so much of the material came from!

The liner notes are really superb from Steve Vertlieb. He goes through the entire plot of the screenplay and explains in an easy to understand way: sometimes I think you have to be a musicologist to comprehend what kind of music etc. is being played and used. Some of the artwork at least in my review copy came out more like a painting than photos? The recording is a little bright with a bit too much compression but that would never prevent me from getting this soundtrack. It is just an engineering decision designed to make it a little easier to listen to in cars, small portable units etc. On my larger stereo system I found myself having to turn the volume down a notch and cutting back a little on the treble. Not only do I recommend this recording but a copy of the Violin Concerto http://www.goldenscores.com/?a=classical&id=57 would be nice too! Good job by Tadlow.

Golden Scores Rating ***1/2

Produced by James Fitzpatrick

Tadlow # 004

Track listing

1. Main Titles / 221B Baker Street (04:13)

2. The Smoke Machine / Concerto / Cocaine (02:12)

3. The Curious Case Of The Upside-Down Room* / Pistol Practice* (05:32)

4. Moving Out* (02:54)

5. Watson’s Rage / Being Presumptuous (02:22)

6. Von Tirpitz Appears (01:50)

7. Gabrielle (05:17)

8. No.32 Ashdown St. / Canaries (04:15)

9. The Rambunctious Canary* (02:36)

10. The Diogenes Club (01:29)

11. To Glenahurich (Loch Lomond, arr. Rozsa) / The Parasol (02:25)

12. Inverness / The Cemetery / Valladon (05:46)

13. The Sighting (01:02)

14. Castles Of Scotland / Urquhart Castle (05:25)

15. After The Monster / The Monster Strikes (05:03)

16. The Last Act (02:07)

17. Ilse Von Hoffmanstal / A Certain Royal / Gabrielle’s Awakening (03:28)

18. Holmes’ Morse Code / Eternal Silence / Farewell (03:47)

19. Auf Wiedersehen / The End (05:16)

BONUS TRACKS:

20. Castles Of Scotland – Version 1* (01:54)

21. Castles Of Scotland – Version 2* (Vienna In Scotland) (02:10)

22. Castles Of Scotland – Final Version With Bagpipe Drones (02:05)

23. Main Titles / 221B Baker Street – Original Version* (04:22)

* music composed for the film but not used in final version

Total Duration: 01:17:30

 

Rozsa wrote in his memoirs Double Life “My ‘public’ career as composer for films ran alongside my ‘private’ development as composer for myself, or at least for nonutilitarian purposes: two parallel lines, and in the interests of both my concern has always been to prevent their meeting”. Such was not to be the case with the Concerto for Violin. Written in 1953 in the same Italian town Rapallo, where Sibelius wrote his 2nd Symphony, the concerto was completed in a scant six weeks. Jascha Heifetz became quite intrigued with the piece and worked with Rozsa during the following year fine-tuning it for concert performance. The world premiere took place in January of 1956 in Dallas with Heifetz playing and was later recorded for RCA. Because of their working together Rozsa was able to joke that he was known as a “teacher of Jascha Heifetz” even though he had not played a violin in many years! Nearly 15 years had passed since the recording of the Violin Concerto and unknown to Miklos, Billy Wilder had absolutely fallen in love with the piece to the point of wanting to use the themes in his upcoming 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Thus the case of the two parallel lines somehow intersecting each other and the Concerto was brought to the public eye yet again.

The 30 minute Violin Concerto follows the 3 movement structure starting with an Allegro which introduces the theme somewhat complex but one which oozes romance in parts yet shows the technical playing in other sections of the soloist in this case Robert McDuffie. The Hungarian gypsy influence comes through loud and clear with the orchestra taking a back seat for much of the movement as the violin performs. The second movement, a Lento cantabile, features a quiet melodic gypsy serenade performed with elegance both on the violin and supported by the orchestra. The third movement is a bright allegro vivace with splendid difficult technical violin work, but lacking the strong melodic theme the first two movements had.

Again the parallel lines crossed this time with the Cello Concerto (1968) being used in the science fiction film The Power. It was also written in the traditional three movement style with the overall work having much more of a romantic classical flavor than the Violin Concerto, which has a Hollywood sound for parts of the work. While the allegro vivo has a moment or two for the Hollywood dramatic it has a dissonant texture one can very easily find intriguing. The Lento middle movement has that yearning Rozsa flavor and the beginning Moderato is allowed to be fully developed filled with techniques that Rozsa normally didn’t do.

Themes and Variations, Op. 29a from 1958 is the second movement only of the 3 movement work written for Cello and Violin, both being given equal time. Being written for both Heifetz and Piatigorsky to perform, the equal issue was quite important! The definite Hungarian sounding theme has pauses so one can hear the several variations that follow. Both Harrell and McDuffie perform the work well which each soloist being given the opportunity to shine.

Overall this is an excellent recording of three works of Rozsa that many of you are not familiar with at all. Levi, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the soloists Robert McDuffie and Lynn Harrell perform extremely well. The Telarc engineering team is up to its usual high standards and the sound is top notch. Upon repeated listens you will hear some of the famous Hollywood style of Rozsa. This is a definite must have for anyone who is interested in Rozsa scores. If nothing else it is a welcome addition along side of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Golden Score Rating (****)

Telarc CD-80518

Engineered by Michael Bishop

Produced by Robert Woods

The Reaping/Frizzell

April 6, 2007

 

John Frizzell is certainly beginning to garner the reputation of being able to compose music for a wide variety of different types of films. Primeval with its African music, Gods and Generals and the civil war flavor, The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio featuring country/bluegrass/Americana, and Beavis and Butthead Do America a comedy, are just four examples of what this somewhat overlooked composer has done in the past few years. The Reaping is a horror/biblical story starring Hillary Swank and directed by Stephen “24” Hopkins. It tells the many told story of the 10 Biblical Plagues happening, this time in a small Louisiana town. Distributed by Warner Brothers and produced by Joel “Matrix” Silver, I think that Hillary Swank’s named was used as a draw for this film and she agreed to do the role for a nice paycheck, perhaps to help bankroll her upcoming film Labyrinth in which she stars and is a producer.

Frizzell, or the producer/director team, take the somewhat standard approach for music for this kind of film. It benefits from a larger budget using an 80 piece orchestra and 60 piece choir but there is nothing really groundbreaking that will perk up your ears and take notice to some great theme or orchestration. John wrote and has added in addition to the regular score electronic material which adds to the wierdness of some of the tracks. “Incident In Chile”, as an example, starts off with what else but a Spanish guitar. It quickly segues into an eerie series of quiet piano chords with the electronics in the background at first and then taking front and center stage. “Trip To Haven”, about a minute into the track, offers a theme with piano and strings in a somewhat quieter mode for this score. “Katherine’s Story” is another one of the quieter tracks and Frizzell’s experience shows through with an excellent underscore track, one that depicts that creepy feeling without having to resort to anything more than some nice string playing. “God Intervenes” uses the theme introduced to us in “Trip To Haven” but this time with full orchestra and Gaelic singing choir. It’s a good listening track, pretty much the norm, but interesting. Many of you will enjoy “The Boy” which uses the main theme yet again, the gaelic choir, and a nice buildup to some sort of finality. The final track “The Reaping Title Sequence” is some sort of techno-metal-electronic music that some will think is really cool stuff! Not this reviewer but I can always fall back on some music I just don’t understand, it seems out of place, or over the top to name a few descriptions I can use.

Overall, the score greatly benefits from the experience John has had dealing with subject matter of this sort. It is primarily a horror score, so if this kind of music is your cup of tea you’ll be pleased with it. When new material passes my desk for evaluation one always hopes that there might very well be some new groundbreaking material included. Sorry to report that this is not the case for this soundtrack. Recommended for the fans of horror scores.