the-soloist21Originally scheduled for release in November 2008, The Soloist was subjected to delays and the Oscar buzz given to Robert Downey Jr. for his performance of journalist Steve Lopez was put on hold, as well as the Decca soundtrack. Now scheduled for release in the US on April 24th, the Joe ‘Atonement’ Wright directed film also stars Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel a classical child prodigy cellist who is living homeless on the streets of Los Angeles as a result of his mental issues. The ensuing story leads to a wonderful friendship as well as a best selling book, which examines our society and how we handle mental illness.Academy award winner Dario ‘Atonement’ Marianelli approached this soundtrack from a purely classical point of view, primarily featuring the work of Beethoven’s E Flat Major ‘Eroica’ Symphony. This release is not a series of compilation material that one could put together. Dario orchestrates the themes in a way you’ve never quite heard Ludwig before. While there really isn’t an original main theme, his use of the cello and how he blends the orchestra into the tracks is a work of art. The cello playing can be tranquil, vivacious, tragic, slashing, and dissonant; all reflecting the different moods of Nathaniel. “Crazy About Beethoven” is a solo, tightly miked, with the cello performing the opening theme of the ‘Eroica’ the theme with the full orchestra only coming in at the end of the track. “There is No Escape” is the ‘Eroica’ theme but this time the Cello is backed by The USC orchestra in a way you’ve never heard them before! The talented Ben Hong, in ways I’ve never heard before, performs the cello solos. I would urge anyone who doesn’t own his third symphony to obtain a copy. There are far too many recorded versions to recommend one, but if backed up against the wall this reviewer would say that he owns the 1939 Toscanini/NBC Symphony Orchestra recording. Mono and a bit scratchy but superb playing overcomes any shortcomings in the recording. In addition, there are also parts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, String Quartet #12 and #15, Sonata #4 for Piano and Cello, Triple Concerto, and Bach’s Partita for Cello. Like his use of the typewriter in Atonement, “A City Symphony” incorporates the sound of the cello into the traffic noise of a LA freeway. The sound of the cello is made to sound like a horn from a car! This opening eventually becomes the theme from the third movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet #15 beginning with the solo cello and then the rest of the quartet. “Accordion Interlude,” an original piece from Marianelli is an accordion solos but made to sound like an organ of Bach style material, a very clever use of orchestrating! “Cello Lesson” is the Bach Cello Partita piece, and the concluding track is the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

If you’re not a fan of classical material it is probably one that you’ll want to avoid unless you really take a liking to the film. If you’re open to some classic material it is certainly worth a listen. If you’re a fan of the classical genre you should pre-order it. I can’t recommend it enough!

Track listing:

1. Pershing Square (0:46)

2. Crazy About Beethoven (1:58)

3. Paper Mache World (1:30)

4. A City Symphony (3:37)

5. This Is My Apartment (1:50)

6. There Is No Escape (1:33)

7. Falling Apart (1:07)

8. Four Billion Years (2:50)

9. Nathaniel Breaks Down (5:28)

10. Accordion Interlude (2:03)

11. The Lord’s Prayer (3:10)

12. The Voices Within (2:05)

13. Sister (5:31)

14. Cello Lesson (2:24)

15. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez (11:08)

Total Time is 47:36

Featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen and The Los Angeles Philharmonic

brazilian-impressions-photo1While Respighi wrote numerous works for over 30 years including opera, ballet, vocal, choral, chamber, and concerto works, he is primarily known for his three symphonic poems about Rome. Festivals, Pines, and Fountains have been recorded by many of the finest orchestras in the world and have given Respighi his name in the classical world. Yet works such as Church Windows and Brazilian Impressions deserve much more than just an occasional casual listen. Written during the 1920’s both works are fine examples of tone poems.

Originally written as a 3-movement piano prelude work, Ottorino added a 4th movement, orchestrated it, and with the help of a friend Claudio Guastalia named it Church Windows with appropriate stained-glass windows of artwork as titles for the individual movements. Keep in mind that all of this was done after the completion of the work so there was no real inspiration because of a particular work of art. “The Flight Into Egypt” is an overall solemn religious sounding work with almost birds in flight sounds from the clarinet, oboe, and flute. “St. Michael Archangel” immediately changes the mood to one of a tense battle. It features wind swirling, a majestic theme from the brass, and loud backing from the percussion. After the apparent victory there are some tranquil harp moments complemented by an off-stage trumpet. Short lived; the action yet rises again with the piece closing with an fff crash from a tam-tam. “The Matins of St Clare” is delicate in nature with a meditation type quality, overall serene and thought provoking. The final movement “St Gregory the Great” starts slowly with ominous chords from lower register strings along with brass calls. The music slowly builds into to a crescendo with an organ solo, giving it a religious feeling. It proceeds on a joyous note and ends in a grandiose conclusion.

Brazilian Impressions, written as a result of his first trip to Rio de Janeiro in 1927, the folk music Ottorino heard is nicely incorporated into this all too brief 3 movement, 18+ minute work. “Tropical Night” is a summer filled romantic nocturne featuring a wonderful melody that is everything you would think of if you were in Brazil on a romantic holiday with the exception of a lack of marimba percussion. “Butantan. In A Snake Garden near Sao Paulo” is a creepy memory with tambourine for rattlesnake noises, use of “Dies Irae”, and low slithering sounding woodwinds. “Song and Dance” brings about the vision of a couple in a cabaret performing a samba alone on a dance floor backed by orchestra and couples sitting at tables looking on.

This early 1984 recording from Chandos (8317) has a nice warm sound with good clarity and depth. It is available as a CD or as an MP3 or lossless download from Chandos as well as classics online. One to be explored if your taste is in tone poem works. Recommended

Performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon

Produced by B. Couzens
Recorded by R. Couzens
Chandos #8317
Track Listing:

CHURCH WINDOWS
1… The Flight into Egypt (5:35)
2… St Michael Archangel (5:47)
3… The Matins of St Clare (5:30)
4… St Gregory the Great
BRAZILIAN IMPRESSIONS
5… Tropical Nigh (9:40)
6… Butantan. In a Snake Garden near Sao Paulo
7… Song and Dance (4:04)

Total Time is 45:24

island_dr_moreau_lllcdH.G. Wells and his imagination has always been the subject of many films from Hollywood including at least 3 other versions of this story of half human, half animal creatures along with video games, comic books, and television. Released in 1977 by American International with a 6 million dollar budget, the Don Taylor directed film starred Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Richard Basehart, and Barbara Carrera. The original 1932 film titled Island of Lost Souls was done while Wells was alive (who knows how much he was consulted) and while the special effects were lacking compared to this version, the Universal film with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi has become the preferred choice to watch with the 1996 Frankenheimer remake considered a distant 3rd at best. The 32 version even offers Randolph Scott, Buster Crabbe, and Alan Ladd as creature extras!!While the film was overall weaker than the 1932 version the soundtrack from Rosenthal was far superior, in fact no comparison can even be made between the two. While Laurence is not known for his science fiction/fantasy material this score along with Meteor and Clash Of The Titans certainly show that he is more than capable and well at home in this genre. The “Main Title/The Jungle” introduces us to the Moreau theme on the English horn, a distinctive voice that is brass like but definitely woodwind sounding giving us a melody depicting a lone voice calling out. The forlorn distant sound gave this reviewer the impression of a calling out without an answer, doom from the beginning. This is a strong theme and is used in succeeding tracks such as “On The Beach,” “Dr. Moreau’s Zoo,” and “Moreau’s Death.” In track 2, “Maria and Friend,” we are introduced to the love theme a beautiful major key theme nicely complemented from oboe, clarinet, and flutes. This theme is also used in several of the succeeding tracks such as “On The Beach,” “Maria and Andrew,” and “End Credits.” These two themes are the major components of the score and are used as motifs for Moreau and Maria in the film. The action cues make use of minor chords from the strings, disturbing brass, and dissonant jungle style percussion all similar to something Goldsmith might have done yet the Rosenthal unique style is retained. If your interested in foreboding cues tracks, ones such “Forest Murmurs,” “Bear Man,” and “House of Pain” will not disappoint. As explained in the liner notes by Randall Larson the ending of the film and the music do not make sense at all. The original ending from the novel as well as the film had Maria changing back to a Puma. The preview in Santa Barbara persuaded the producers to redo the ending with a typical Hollywood template happily ever after and love prevails. However, the music was not altered due to budget restraints thus listening and watching makes little sense, kind of like using ketchup as an ice cream topping.

This La-La Land (1085) release, with a limited edition of 1200 units, contains all 57+ minutes of material from the film with track titles taken from the cue sheets. Laurence Rosenthal did release the material 10+ years ago on his Windemere label (42347) but there is less material, different track titles, and likely difficult to obtain. A bootleg LP would only be sought if one were looking for collectible material. This is a recommended release for fans of the film, Rosenthal, and listeners who like that Goldsmith sound.

CD# is LLLCD1085
Orchestrated by Courage and Rosenthal
Executive Producers are Verboys and Gerhard
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London
Track listing

1. Main Title/The Jungle (05:24)

2. Maria And Friend/After Dinner/Doctor’s Study (04:18)

3. On The Beach/More Questions (05:40)

4. Forest Murmurs/Dr. Moreau’s Zoo/Moreau Explains (05:28)

5. Maria And Andrew (03:05)

6. Bear Man/To The Cave/In The Garden/Tiger Fight/Dead Tiger (07:32)

7. To The House Of Pain/Funeral Pyre (04:33)

8. Involution (03:44)

9. Braddock’s Cage/The Humanimals (03:57)

10. Moreau’s Death (02:41)

11. Man And Beast (02:18)

12. The Holocaust (01:30)

13. The Real Maria/End Credits (02:41)

14. Jungle Pursuit (01:34)

15. To The House Of Pain [Alternate Version] (02:44)

Total Duration: 00:57:09