March 24, 2008
Gary McFarland, primarily known for his wonderful contribution to jazz, specifically the soft samba sound, wrote only 2 major film soundtracks, and the 1966 occult/supernatural Eye of the Devil, starring Deborah Kerr, David Niven, and Sharon Tate is the only one to be released. Finally completed by the 4th hired director J. Lee Thompson, this film was barraged with one catasrophe after another ranging from an accident to David Niven, replacement of KIm Novak who was also hurt during the filming, to other calamities according to John Bender, author of the very informative liner notes. In spite of all of these problems none of them spilled over to the score and McFarland contributed an excellent soundtrack to a film that was quite ordinary.Many times this reviewer will have a preconceived idea about a score based on the composer and this score was no exception, with the idea being completely wrong. While there are some strong hints of jazz sprinkled in the score, this is a movie soundtrack! The “Main Theme/Phillippe’s Study” opening track began with a harp prelude and then the solo harp unfolds the theme along with a very nice structured harmony for nearly the entire track. Toward the end there is a bass line and the harp emulates a piano in a light jazzy section. It is a very strong theme, one that McFarland recorded more than once on his jazz style albums under the name of “13” or “One I Could Have Loved”. While this soundtrack can certainly not be classified as a monothematic one, the theme is used in several of the tracks in different keys and orchestrations. Gary makes good use of the harpsichord, something which emphasizes a feeling of the archaic. The last track “Trailer” is an exercise in a percussion only cue for the film trailer, definitely 60’s jazz, with marimba, and a fine drum solo. “You Must Help Me” is slowly building underscore with constant percussion and a slow buildup of instrumentation, not unlike Bolero in the way its arranged but there is not the influence of Gil Evans that Lukas Kendall quotes, producer and writer of the track by track analysis. The buildup continues in “Parapet Pt. 1” and “Parapet Pt. 2” to a finale. “Jacques and the Eye” concludes with a wordless choir restating the main theme, albiet somewhat dissonant.
As mentioned above, the extremely detailed liner notes about the making of the film by John Bender and excellent track by track analysis by Lukas Kendall are just icing on the cake. Also included is information about the original release including the track listing, but this Verve LP was never sold in the open market. Gary also did the film score for Who Killed Mary What’s Er Name but it has never been released and McFarland died quite tragically soon afterwards. Anyone who has even a remote interest in the 60’s jazz/pop music or if tastes gravitate toward the unusual will find this Film Score Monthly release to be quite rewarding. Highly recommended.
Golden Score Rating is ****
CD# is FSM Vol. 11 No.1
Produced by Lukas Kendall
Track listing1. Main Theme / Philippe’s Study (04:49)
2. Drive To Chateau (01:00)
3. Catherine’s Drive (01:30)
4. Int. Chateau Night / Jacques In Bed (03:21)
5. Odile And Children (01:21)
6. Arrow Into Tree (01:28)
7. Catherine In Chateau At Night / Children On Parapet / Catherine And Odile On Parapet / Children On Steeple (05:14)
8. Christian Galloping / Horses (00:50)
9. The Grave In The Forest (05:12)
10. Nightmare (02:34)
11. Procession (03:03)
12. Catherine To Tower (03:34)
13. You Must Help Me (05:30)
14. Parapet Pt. 1 (02:20)
15. Parapet Pt. 2 (02:32)
16. Jacques And The Eye (01:23)
17. Trailer (02:33)
Total Duration: 00:48:14
March 19, 2008
Would you conjure up a certain kind of music about a film that had to do with a mother working illegally in the U.S. while her mother cares for her 9 year old son in Mexico? This reviewer certainly did and was quite surprised to hear that the first track began with a piano solo and accordion music that made this sound like a combination of To Kill A Mockingbird and an outdoor french cafe scene. Certainly there was no hint of any traditional style Mexican/Hispanic in the first track “La Misma Luna” albiet it was a melody that immediately caught my attention, having always enjoyed the simplicity of the Mockingbird theme and the use of the accordion. Directed by newcomer Patricia Riggen, and starring Mario Almada, Adrian Alonso, and Issac Bravo the film does try to make a political point of illegal immigration but certainly not where it affects the story itself. This overall is a heartwarming family story and the music certainly reflects that even though it is not quite what this reviewer was expecting to hear.
Carlo Siliotto’s “La Misma Luna” theme is one that is blended very nicely into the entire score and it is such a nice change to hear a memorable theme that you find yourself humming as you leave the theater. The melody is played by the clarinet, accordion, strings and piano on several of the tracks allowing a different type of feeling depending on which instrument is taking the solo. “La Muerte De La Abuela” is the very first hint in any track that this film is indeed about illegal immigration between the United States and Mexico with a definite south of the border flavor. “El Coche” features some traditional mexican chords on the guitar before it seques into a underscore section. “El Viaje y Enrique” begins with the theme in a style we would expect to hear in this type of film but as the development of the track continues it becomes a lot more heartfelt again featuring the reeds and the delicacy of the piano. “Hay Una Esquina” and “El Sacrificio De Enrique” are underscore tracks with the latter featuring some strong tom-tom type percussion with just a hint of the main theme.
Overall this is a score that is quite light and extremely easy for one to listen to. There is nothing in the way of ear squeeking music that will get in the way of the overall romantic flavor of this score. This is quite different from Carlo’s The Punisher score, which only shows the versatility that these film/television composers must have to survive in the entertainment world today. This is certainly a score that could be enjoyed as just easy to listen to music away from the film, in fact one wouldn’t have to have any knowledge of the type of film at all. If you enjoyed the movie the soundtrack will just be an additional bonus to the experience. As of March 2008, the time of this writing, the Lakeshore records recording is available through the iTunes websites.
March 6, 2008
Berkshire Record Outlet is an excellent outlet for closeout classical label material, soundtracks, big band, and a wide range of other type of material. You can check out there array of material at http://www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com and see for yourself. The reason for mentioning them is the For The Fallen Release on Koch Classics that I purchased for the astounding price of $2.99! To my knowledge it is still available and one that should be investigated at the very least.Susan DelGiorno, general manager of Koch classics, came up with the idea to contribute to a charity to honor the World Trade Center tragedy while listening to the Bernard Herrmann composition “For the Fallen”, something Bernard was commissioned to write to commemorate the tragedy of World War II. This was the start of the CD and others were added by listening to 100’s of other available recordings
What is interesting about this CD to film score collectors is the selection of material includes works by Rozsa, Herrmann, Waxman, and Korngold. The third movement of the third quartet (sostenuto) of Erich Korngold is a fully developed version of the love theme from Sea Wolf. Erich enjoyed using his film themes in his concert works and what better place to do it. Many times this reviewer has longed for more fully developed material from many film composers and Erich is one of the few who doesn’t disappoint. While Korngold has written some of the finest golden age film scores of all time his concert material need not take a back seat to anyone. In fact of all of the film composers Korngold was certainly one of the more prolific. Another prolific concert work composer, Rozsa, has a short but likable bagatelle performed on solo piano by Sara Buechner. The Waxman piece is part of the “Sinfonietta for String Orchestra & Timpani”, written in 1955 for the head of Zurich radio. The Lento is a dirge like piece with the always present beat of the timpani. One is reminded of a march to the gallows perhaps in a western genre. For those who have yet to hear “For The Fallen” you are in for a treat. It is a berceuse (lullaby) with an absolutely haunting Herrmann theme. Like Rozsa and Korngold, Herrmann took part of the theme from a previous work, The Happy Prince a radio program that Bernard wrote for Orson Welles. It is offered on this CD as a complete piece as it is slightly under (7) minutes in length. Also included is the now standard American classic piece “Elegy for Strings” by Samuel Barber, the Morton Gould “Fall River Legend” (Hymnal Variations), and a very moving piece “The Hollow Men” by Vincent Persichetti. that features some nice trumpet work. There is also an original recording of “God Bless America” with Irving Berlin singing and a couple of choral works.
This is a fine compilation of material and well worth the $2.99 price tag. You’ll be introduced to a fine array of material and the material that you like can be explored by seeking out the complete work of some of the pieces. When you think about it Horner wasn’t the only composer who reused some of his material. Recommended
Golden Score Rating ***
Produced by Koch International Classics
1. Rozsa: Bagatellen, Op. 12 (Canzone) (2:04)
2. Herrmann: For The Fallen (6:54)
3. Bingen: O gloriossimi lux (6:41)
4. Waxman: Sinfonietta (Lento) (4:11)
5. Barber: Adagio for Strings (8:16)
6. Thompson: Testament of Freedom (6:38)
7. Piazzola: Ave Maria (4:27)
8. Korngold: String Quartet No. 3 (Sostenuto) (9:23)
9. Persichetti: The Hollow Men (8:06)
10. Gould: Fall River Legend (Hymnal Variations) (4:32)
11. Berlin: God Bless America (1:26)
Total Time is 62:43