Valkyrie/Ottman

December 26, 2008

valkyrie-cover

Opening on Xmas Day in the US Valkyrie, code name for the emergency plan is a World War II epic starring Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy, which deals with the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. The 95 million dollar United Artist release is directed by Bryan Singer and brings together the Singer/Ottman team yet again. John also has been Bryan’s editor as well as composer for all but one film in their 15-year partnership.

 

The opening cue, “They’ll Remember You,” the end title theme sung by Rundfunkchor with soprano solo by Sylke Schwab, were from a Goethe poem “Wanderers Nachtiled II” adapted by Ottman and Rosner and is truly a thing of beauty, the highlight of the CD. A somber religious piece, it is one that could be added to any compilation CD and in this reviewer’s opinion a contender for best track of 2008! If you do nothing else download this one track. The final cue “Long Live Sacred Germany” is a nicely written string adagio depicting a somber mood of the tragedy. The “Midnight Waltz” is an all to brief delicate high society type piano solo with a string lead in and harmony. Co-written and orchestrated by Lior Rosner it’s an excellent waltz/source music piece for the film. “The Officers Club” is a sweet band source song calypso like sung in German, typical of the 40’s era.
The rest of the cues are various styles of underscore, ranging from drums of all types and styles, low string chords (good minor key motifs), tension building material, from the heart emotional motifs that are brief and without any memorable tune that this reviewer will likely ever remember again once I complete this review. “I’m Sorry” and “Operation Terminated” fall into this category of heartfelt emotional cues. “Operation Valkyrie is a good example of the sobering German influenced music with plenty of synthetic drum and jittery material included. This is ‘landscape’ material that could fit into any number of films and a fan of Valkyrie will enjoy as he relives those special moments. Without seeing the film, most of us will have difficulty. The constant drum material merely exercised my woofer and not my gray matter.

As I stated earlier the opening cue ranks at the top of the list for best cue of 2008. I truly believe that the poem inspired Ottman to new heights. There were also three other cues “Midnight Waltz,” “The Officer’s Club,” and “Long Live Sacred Germany” that merit further listens. That said, with a liking for one or more of the underscore cues you’ve a winner. Overall, a good effort from John Ottman.
Produced by John Ottman
Varese Sarabande CD# is3020669372
Conducted by Pablo Heisenberg
Mastered by Dave Collins
Main Titles Rating is ***1/2

Track listing

1. They’ll Remember You (04:20)

2. Operation Valkyrie (05:11)

3. What’s This Really All About? (03:44)

4. Bunker Bust (03:45)

5. March 13 Attempt (03:38)

6. Midnight Waltz (02:11)

7. A Place To Change (04:09)

8. Seconds Lost (03:34)

9. Getting the Signature (04:04)

10. The Officer’s Club (02:37)

11. The Way It Should Go (03:24)

12. If I Were That Man / To The Berghof (02:21)

13. I’m Sorry (03:04)

14. Important Call (04:07)

15. No More Indecision (02:31)

16. Olbricht Gives the Order (03:18)

17. Operation Terminated (01:16)

18. Long Live Sacred Germany (06:13)

Total Duration: 01:03:27

Discover Film Music/Riley

December 20, 2008

discover-film-musicDiscovery is a new series created by Naxos to introduce one to different types of music. Previous releases include The Symphony, Chamber Music, Opera, Choral Music, Music of the 20th Century, and the latest entry is Film Music. A 2 CD set offering nearly 160 minutes of music along with a 25,000-word essay (its essentially a book) and a timeline of events in film history, is a great introduction to the new 20th Century art form of music for the cinema.While it consists of previously released material from the Naxos and Marco Polo catalog done by Morgan and Stromberg, Adriano, Carl Davis and others, the compilation is wonderfully put together offering a selection from the major Hollywood composers on one CD and the rest of the world on the other. Included are selections from Thomson, Copland, Auric, Bliss, Coates, and Honegger that the seasoned collector might not have in his collection. All of the major players including Steiner, Waxman, Herrmann, Newman, Tiomkin, Rozsa, Williams, and Goldsmith, are featured on one of their major scores. This must have been an extremely difficult decision as to what score to include and I can hear the “why didn’t they include blank?” However, if you read the title of the article/release the selections were well thought out. When you can only have 2 ½ hours of music to cover 100 years of film making all this reviewer can say is yikes!

The book/essay by John Riley, author of “Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film,” is divided into three major sections: Beginnings, Hollywood, and Outside Hollywood. A Timeline of a Century of Film Music follows it from 1885 to 2008 noting History, Art and Architecture, and Literature with Music & Film Music. As Riley begins to discuss Hollywood in the 2nd section, each of the composers are given a brief biography followed by a discussion of the particular track chosen on the 1st CD, as well as the contribution they made to the art. Of special appeal to this reviewer was the including of both Hans Salter and Adolph Deutsch, lesser known but important contributors to Hollywood? Selections from The Maltese Falcon and Ghost of Frankenstein are given their just due as quality works. While certain composers such as Henry Mancini are not given a CD selection they are mentioned as being important contributors to the art form.

The 3rd section is devoted to film music from outside of Hollywood and includes selections from England, Hungary, France, Russia, Japan, Italy, and Sweden on the 2nd CD. While the 26 chosen selections are good ones there are omissions, which will raise the eyebrows of a seasoned collector. Like the 1st CD the tracks are explained along with background information on the composer. Again I repeat that this is a 2 CD set, which is covering 100+ years of music and no matter what the choices all will never agree.

This reviewer strongly recommends that anyone thinking about or starting to get involved in collecting purchase this 2 CD set and book. The selection and book are an excellent starting point and the value offered by Naxos is less money than the purchase of one OST CD. The collector who is getting close to crossing the line to addiction will still enjoy the information, timeline, quotes, and selections he hasn’t yet purchased. The soundtrack hobbyist who has been involved for many years can avoid unless it is a gift to a friend/relative. Both the book and the selection of material will only irritate. They know everything from the book already and there are no OST included in this compilation.
Track Listing:
CD 1 Max Steiner (1888-1971)

King Kong
1 Main Title 2:10
2 A Boat in the Fog 1:36
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.223763

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)

The Adventures of Robin Hood
3 Main Title 1:48
4 Sir Guy and Robin Hood 1:49
5 The Banquet 2:14
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.225268

Hans Salter (1896-1994)

House of Frankenstein
6 Full Moon 1:16
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.570188

Adolph Deutsch (1897-1980)

The Maltese Falcon
7 The Deal 2:47
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.557701

Franz Waxman (1906-1967)

Rebecca
8 Selznick International Trademark – Introduction – Foreword – Opening Scene 3:16
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.557549

Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975)

Jane Eyre
9 Rochester 2:29
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223535

Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)

10 Spellbound Concerto 3:55
Philip Fowke, piano / RTÉ Concert Orchestra / Proinnsías Ó Duinn 8.554323

Alfred Newman (1900-1970)

11 All About Eve Suite 4:38
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.570187

Dimitri Tiomkin (1894-1979)

Red River
12 Main Title 1:29
13 Dunson Heads South 4:47
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.557699

Virgil Thomson (1896-1989)

The Plow that Broke the Plains
14 War and the Tractors 3:54

Post-Classical Ensemble / Angel Gil-Ordóñez 8.559291

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

The Red Pony Suite
15 Walk to the Bunkhouse 2:57
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra / JoAnn Falletta 8.559240

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

On the Waterfront
16 Symphonic Suite (excerpt) 5:35
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop 8.559177

Miklós Rózsa

Ben Hur
17 Prelude 3:41 John Williams (1932-)

Schindler’s List
18 Main Theme 4:24
Thelma Handy, violin / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Carl Davis 8.570505

Star Wars
19 Main Title Theme 5:23
Richard Hayman and His Orchestra 8.555020

Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)

Alien
20 Main Theme (original version) 4:44
Richard Hayman and His Orchestra 8.555020

John Barry (1933-)

Out of Africa
21 Main Title Theme 3:54
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Carl Davis 8.570505

Vangelis (1943-)

Chariots of Fire (arr. Andy Vinter)
22 Main Title Theme 3:31
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Carl Davis 8.570505

Danny Elfman (1953-)

Spider-Man (arr. John Wasson)>br> 23 Main Theme and Farewell 5:13
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Carl Davis 8.570505

Disc 2 Toral Time: 78:52

CD 2

Eric Coates (1886-1957)

The Dam Busters
1 Dam Busters’ March 3:53
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adrian Leaper 8.570575-76

Ron Goodwin (1925-2003)
633 Squadron
2 Main Theme 2:57
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adrian Leaper 8.570575-76

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)

Things to Come

3 Interlude: The World in Ruins 2:37
Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Christopher Lyndon-Gee 8.553698

Richard Addinsell (1904-1977)

Dangerous Moonlight
4 Warsaw Concerto 3:33
Philip Fowke, piano / RTÉ Concert Orchestra / Proinnsías Ó Duinn 8.554323

Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)

David Copperfield

5 Mr. Micawber 2:10
Moscow Symphony Orchestra / William Stromberg 8.225167

William Walton (1902-1983)

Hamlet
6 The Ghost 3:13
Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973)

The Curse of the Werewolf
7 Revenge and Escape 2:58
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Carl Davis 8.557850

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

49th Parallel
8 Prelude 2:13
RTÉ Concert Orchestra / Andrew Penny 8.223665

Erik Nordgren (1913-1992)

Smiles of a Summer Night
9 Dangerous Wine 2:38
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223682

Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960)

A Country Tale Suite
10 Introduction 2:55
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra / Niklas Willén 8.557828

Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Alone
11 Largo 1:32
12 Overtone singer 0:43
13 The school class – Allegro 1:02
14 The children come to comfort Kuzmina – Andante 1:08
Mark van Tongeren, overtone singer / Barbara Buchholz, theremin / Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mark Fitz-Gerald 8.570316

Hamlet

15 The Ghost 3:40
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra / Dmitry Yablonsky 8.557446

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Lieutenant Kijé Suite
16 The Birth of Kijé 4:10
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Mogrelia 8.554057

Ennio Morricone (1928-)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
17 Main Theme 2:52
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra / Crouch End Festival Chorus / Derek Wadsworth

Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)

Regain Suite I
18 Nuit dans la grange – Été 3:50
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223467

Crime et châtiment
19 Départ pour le crime 4:57
Jacques Tchamkerten, ondes martenot / Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223466

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)

Don Quichotte
20 Chanson de la mort 3:05
Henry Kiichli, bass / Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223287

Macbeth Suite
21 Overture 3:19
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223287

Georges Auric (1899-1983)

La Belle et la Bête

22 Les couloirs mystérieux 3:37
Axios / Moscow Symphony Orchestra / Adriano 8.223765

Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)

Face of Another
23 Waltz 2:20
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop 8.557760

Akira Ifukube (1914-2006)

24 Symphonic Fantasia No. 1 (excerpt) 4:04
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra / Dmitry Yablonsky 8.557587

Frédéric Devreese (1929-)

Un Soir, un Train…
25 Danse de l’Auberge 2:40
BRT Philharmonic Orchestra / Frédéric Devreese 8.223681
Wojciech Kilar (1932-)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula
26 Mina / Dracula 4:46
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra / Antoni Wit 8.557703

Disc 2 Total Time: 78:48

Orchestral Works Vol. 1/Rozsa

December 17, 2008

rozsa-orchestral-vol-11Written in 1956, revised in 1963, and dedicated to Eugen Zador (his orchestrator), Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26A is quite an effective 9+ minute work, which incorporates much of the wonderful Rozsa noir and biblical sound and style from his film work of the 40’s and 50’s. That is not to say or infer that any of the themes come directly from any of his films, as he never did this unlike his contemporary Korngold who used some of his movie themes in his classical works. However, that recognizable style and sound comes through loud and clear. This reviewer felt like he was listening to a suite from a new unreleased film for the very first time. A trumpet fanfare gives the main theme of the work leading to a lower register repeat of the theme in a noir type statement. Brass and flute statements follow with his noir style again. While the flute and oboe give the work a small ray of hope it is overall on the darker side, bleak in nature.

Three Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14 was completed and performed in 1938, the Hungarian entry for the International Festival. This work has little in the way of any references to his film work, the main focus being on his native country. The 20+ minute work is divided into 3 parts: Capriccio, Pastorale, and Danza. The light and airy fantasia of the Capriccio opens this very upbeat work and sets the mood for the entire piece. The Pastorale is in the tradition of a true work of nature and the Danza very nicely depicts the folk dances of Hungary in a rhythm brass driven movement. The work was revised in 1958 and is written for full orchestra.

Tripartita, Op. 33 was written in 1971 around the time he was reworking his violin concerto for use in the Billy Wilder film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It is a three-movement suite written in a similar format and length to his Hungarian Sketches only this work definitely has some ‘film noir’ sound to it. The beginning Intrada easily sounds like one of his 40’s films with the relentless and raw theme sometimes augmented with the staccato brass. The Intermezzo arioso has a similar yearning sound to The Lost Weekend. It has the feel of a quiet nocturnal piece but always with mystery and an eerie like quality. You’re waiting for something to happen and it does in full force in the Finale, a ferocious, wild, and rhythmic excursion into an unsettling conclusion to this excellent suite!

Hungarian Serenade, Op.25 written in 1946, is a revision of the work Serenade that dates back to 1932. Again this is a work that must have come from fond memories of his native country. The 22+ minute work is divided into 5 sections: Marcia, Serenata, Scherzo, Notturno, and Danza. Written for small orchestra it is a diverse work consisting of lively dances, romance, and thought provoking material.

If you’re tastes lend itself toward that ‘Rozsa Sound’ you won’t be disappointed and actually welcome listening to works that don’t limit his composing to the film. This reviewer welcomes this recording and future releases (this is vol. 1).

CD# CHAN 10488
Rumon Gamba conducts the BBC Philharmonic

Track Listing:
1…Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (9:07)
2-4 Three Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14 (20:08)
5-7 Tripartita, Op. 33 (22:20)
8-12 Hungarian Serenade, Op. 25 (22:44)
Total Time is 74:46

Scorpio/Fielding

December 1, 2008

scorpio_vol691Recently the 1973 spy film Scorpio made a brief comeback and was in the headlines in the soundtrack-collecting circle. Released as a volume limited to 1500 copies it sold out like ice cream on 110-degree day. The careful wording of the 1500 copies is done so that Intrada the label could release again in the future. We all learned about the careful wording including myself. I incorrectly thought that if a release were limited to xxxx amount of copies once they were sold no more would be pressed. Nope, incorrect thinking. For that matter anyone who wants to pay the fees to the AFM and get a license could also put out the release. As of this writing in November of 2008 I saw copies for $50.00, 2 1/2 times the initial price of $20.00. While I don’t think it is worth $50.00 unless this is pocket change to you, I do feel it is an excellent effort from Jerry Fielding and worth a review.

The Michael “Death Wish” Winner directed film from United Artists starred Burt Lancaster (Cross) and Alain Delon (Scorpio) in an appropriate CIA assignation plot for the early 70’s. In this case it was the CIA wanting to do in one of their own Cross and hires the independent Scorpio to get the job done.

Jerry Fielding, a three time Oscar nominee for The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and The Outlaw Josie Wales had his share of issues being black listed during the 50’s, having pled the Fifth Amendment during the McCarthy hearing’s. It wasn’t until 1962 that Preminger gave him the opportunity to score Advise and Consent and get back into the mainstream of Hollywood. By the time of Scorpio Jerry was working at a frantic pace and not too long after suffered a series of heart attacks (smoker) and his life ended in 1980.

Scorpio is one of a few scores from Fielding that is somewhat accessible to the average listener. While much of his work is thin and sparse in texture with a definite jazz feel to it, Scorpio has real moments of lush strings, strong melodies, and rich orchestral passages. The ” Main Title” with its accordion and full strings brings an instant European flavor to it. It does eventually end up in a more recognizable Fielding style with flute, clarinet, and harpsichord. “Target Zim” likewise is a short underscore dissonant passage. “In the Aircraft” is again a departure featuring a melody and some extended jazzy improvisational organ and flute work, sort of a Jimmy Smith/Herbie Mann with strings album. “Susan’s Apartment” is as fine a two-step slow dance number as you’ll ever hear with love eye strings, soft horn chords, and delicate piano. I can see myself going up 40 floors in an elevator listening to it! “The Big Wheel” is a potpourri of different styles offering tension, hurdy-gurdy, and an orchestral version of “Un Dia de Julio.” For a three+ minute cue it certainly has a lot of variety to offer. “Cocktails at Heck’s House”, is music to have a few drinks to, featuring some nicely played piano solo material. “Zharkov Bites His Tail” features some concerto style piano scales in true Rachmaninoff style less any hint of melody. . This release is a lot more complete than the Bay Cities release of Fielding material in the 90’s making it far more attractive if your primary focus is on Scorpio. While this is not a top 100 score of all time it is ranked in the top 500 and its versatility and accessibility make it a winner.
TRACK LISTING:

1….Main Title (2:28)
2….Target Zim (00:47)
3….In The Aircraft (03:02)
4….Reflections of Cathood (02:18)
5….C.I.A. Tail (04:50)
6….Susan’s Apartment (02:25)
7….I Have to Go Deep (01:51)
8….Two Ways to Walk (01:57)
9….I Picked You Up (01:18)
10…The Big Wheel (03:35)
11…”Un Dia de Julio” (01:40)
12…The Imperial Vaults (03:39)
13…In the Greenhouse (04:05)
14…Zharkov Wags His Tail (03:21)
15…Into the Underground (07:01)
16…Cocktail’s at Heck’s House (03:11)
17…The Thief (00:35)
18…Zharkov Bites His Tail (02:31)
19…Nothing But Enemies (01:11)
20…Boiler Room (02:07)
21…Miff Dives (01:00)
22…All Fall Down (04:30)
Total Time is 00:59.22

Golden Scores Rating is ****