April 25, 2009
American International Pictures, known for horror, Roger Corman, all night drive-in ’B’ movies, hot rods, rock and roll, and bikini clad girls tried to offer audiences a film of real substance in 1970. I think that Nicholson and Arkoff, founders and producers, hoped to polish the image of the studio AIP by showing it could make an ‘A’ picture. The classic Emily Bronte novel Wuthering Heights was directed by Robert Fuest, starred Anna Calder-Marshall and Timothy Dalton, filmed at Shepperton Studios in England and actually had a modest budget to work with considering it hired Michel Legrand for the score, and the Bergman’s for lyrics to the “I Was Born In Love With You,” the song they hoped would rise to the top of the charts. This was a time in Hollywood when a film hoped to have a #1 song to produce advertising and revenue. While the song performed by the Mike Curb Congregation, for record only, never reached the popularity AIP hoped for it was certainly an asset to the film itself. While I still consider the Oscar nominated Alfred Newman score to the 1939 William Wyler version starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon a classic, this version is certainly worth a look and the “Theme from Wuthering Heights” is certainly as noteworthy as Newman’s. You can’t really compare them but you can certainly enjoy both! Both films are heads above the 1953/54 Luis Bunuel film, shot in Mexico, and featuring the music of Richard Wagner. I can’t comment because I haven’t seen the film but opera from Tristan and Isolde seems like ketchup on vanilla ice cream to me. There are several more versions and as I type there is a 2009 film being done for television. The list of remakes goes on like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes.
https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2006/09/22/wuthering-heightsalfred-newman/Michel Legrand featured his Cathy or “Theme from Wuthering Heights” as the primary one, using it with delicacy for the flutes in the opening title, yearning strings, stately French horns, mixing it with other motifs such as “Rendezvous on the Moors,” “Castle Grounds,” and other instruments throughout the 46+ minute score. “Yorkshire Moors” uses the modern guitar to sound baroque like, an interesting orchestration that is mixed with the “Wuthering Heights” theme, flutes, harpsichord, a dissonant horn, and oboe. “Cathy’s Theme” is a lush romantic version of the “Theme from Wuthering Heights” offering many solos from the London Studio Orchestra members including harp, flute, violin, and oboe. “The Grange,” quite modern sounding like a traffic sequence is mixed with the gloomy harpsichord chords to make for an interesting mixture in this cue. “Hindley” is one of those tracks that is made up of several different smaller cues ranging from trumpet fanfares, lower register brass, “Theme from Wuthering Heights,” and church type music. The mixture works well as a nice underscore track.
While limited to 1200 units this release is still available and well worth exploring. It would make a nice edition to go along with the classic Newman score in your collection.
Maintitles Rating is ***½
CD# is LLLCD 1087
Music is composed and conducted by Michel Legrand and performed by the London Studio Orchestra
Produced by Gerhard and Verboys
1. I Was Born In Love With You (Theme from Wuthering Heights – Instrumental) (02:07)
2. Yorkshire Moors (02:38)
3. Le Grand Holiday (02:45)
4. Castle Grounds (01:18)
5. Hindley (03:38)
6. The Grange (01:32)
7. Rendezvous In The Moors (02:54)
8. Cathy’s Theme (04:42)
9. Wuthering Heights (02:23)
(Previously unreleased track)
10. Mystical Moors (02:33)
11. Reprises for Heathcliff (05:27)
12. Ghost of Cathy (01:30)
13. Wuthering Heights Dirge (04:08)
14. Isabella (04:08)
15. Mourning for Cathy (01:37)
16. Heathcliff and Cathy (01:41)
17. I Was Born In Love With You (Theme from Wuthering Heights) (03:07)
Vocal by The Mike Curb Congregation
Total Time is 46:46
April 17, 2009
Silva to many of us is known as the label offering compilation albums on a potpourri of subjects ranging from composers, topics, actors, and types of films just to name some of the scenarios they’ve tackled over the years. The Music Of Batman spans over 40 years of television, animation, and movies the fanatical fan base has demanded. From the chart breaking TV theme with a single word batman for the lyrics repeated over and over, to the latest blockbuster Dark Knight, 9 different productions are included with music by Elfman, Goldenthal, Walker, Howard, Zimmer, Drake, Riddle, and Hefti, an impressive lineup of composers who’ve contributed to the never ending stories of the comic book hero.Danny Elfman who created in my opinion the best of the Batman themes is featured on the first 6 tracks to the 1989 Tim Burton film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. This is the theme that goes through my head when I think of Batman and keep in mind I watched the television series when they weren’t reruns! On the very first play I got the goose bumps as they played the classic dark Herrmann influenced main title filled with eeriness, mystery, and excitement. The second thing that I really liked about the Elfman score were the references he made to other works such as ‘Mars’ from Planets by Gustav Holst. Listen to the beginning of “The Final Confrontation” and you’ll hear just a few notes from it. To me this is a nice touch! Listen to the “Finale” track and you’ll hear a little from the crescendo from Also Sprach Zarathustra from Richard Strauss. “Up the Cathedral” reveals a bar or two from the Waxman score to Bride of Frankenstein, along with the echoing horns from Aliens used by James Horner effectively. These and others are perfectly blended into the score with his own original material. Also included on the CD is the Wagner parody “Batterdamerung” from Goldenthal in Batman Forever, “Eptesicus,” a melding of Zimmer and Howard from Batman Begins, an excellent well played track from Fitzpatrick and the City of Prague Philharmonic, an orchestra that has certainly made some great strides in the last few years. In fact give an ‘A’ to the Prague ensemble for the tracks that they performed on. This is not the case as far as the London Music Works ensemble that performed the retro Batman material by Riddle and Hefti. There is a way to play the big band style of both Riddle and Hefti and what I heard wasn’t even close. As a reviewer I had to cringe and it was difficult to get through the last two tracks. Perhaps with practice they will learn to get the feel of the material. Having said that do not let that deter you from your purchase of this album.
As with all compilation material one could easily complain about how it is performed, arranged etc. This is not for the Batman fanatic. This is not for the individual who collects OST material. This is for the person who would enjoy listening to 45 minutes of Batman material, which has already been compiled and arranged in a very nice fashion excepting the retro material. I can honestly say that I look forward to hearing material from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra as they have improved over time that much. Recommended.
Maintitles rating is ***½
CD# is SILCD1276
Produced by Rick Clark and James Fitzpatrick
Orchestrations by Steve Bartek, Dominic Nunns, Adam Saunders, Evan Jolly, and Matt Hohensee
Nic Raine and James Fitzpatrick conducted the Prague with Evan Jolly conducting the London Music Works.
1. Batman (02:56)*
2. Batman – Flowers & Love Theme (02:33)*
3. Batman – The Joker’s Poem & Clown Attack (01:30)*
4. Batman – Up the Cathedral (02:42)*
5. Batman – Waltz to the Death (00:59)*
6. Batman – The Final Confrontation & Finale (02:00)*
7. Batman Returns – End Titles (04:49)*
8. Batman Forever – Batterdamerung / Mouth to Mouth Nocturne (03:08)
9. Batman and Robin – Main Titles & Fanfare (01:50)
10. Batman Begins – Eptesicus (04:51)
11. The Dark Knight – Aggressive Expansion (04:35)
12. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – The Birth of Batman / Main Title / The Promise (03:59)
13. Batman: Gotham Knight – End Credits (03:20)
14. Batman: The Movie – Main Title Theme (02:37)
15. Batman – TV Theme (02:20)
* Previously released on SILCD 1261
Total Duration: 00:44:09
April 15, 2009
The 2009 Penguin Guide had a total of 0 recordings in their perfect guide to building your classical collection. It only took me about 10 minutes into this new Naxos recording to come to the decision that they were wrong in their assessment, at least in the case of this recording and at the very least for offering nothing from this talented recorder.Ferdinand Ries was a student, secretary, and copyist for Beethoven during the years of 1803-1805. He made his debut as a pianist in 1804 performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #3 in C Minor, Op. 37 with his own cadenza, to good reviews. He left Vienna in 1805 to avoid the draft but stayed in touch with Ludwig over the years, aiding him with getting some of his publications in London performed and published, including the 9th Symphony in 1822.
My first listen gave me the impression that the 7th Concerto, composed in 1823, wasn’t written in the first part of the 19th Century but somewhat later on, perhaps as much as 25 years later. While not as technical or romantic as I’ve heard, the 1st movement, an allegro con moto is lyrical and stylish enough for me to have stopped what I was doing and just listen. The opening/ prelude statement, showing the Beethoven influence, is 3+ minutes and introduces quite nicely the piano, which offers another theme showing off the skill of the soloist, Hinterhuber in this case. The larghetto is a pretty one, reminding one of romantic times in a delicate fashion. If one were beginning to nod off with the somewhat tranquil nature of the second movement the allegro will certainly open those sleepy eyes in the third and final movement. Quite vivacious it certainly shows the skill of the soloist. While Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia’, Op. 116 is not my cup of tea it is a pleasant listening experience for the person who finds this majestic theme one they find enjoyable. Perhaps not being British might have something to do with my opinion. The concluding work, Introduction ET Variations Brillantes, Op. 170, is based on the song “Soldier, soldier will you marry me?” and offers a nice balance between orchestra and the piano solo sections. It is a nice theme that is nicely developed and allows the technical ability of the soloist to come to the forefront.
This is an excellent way to be introduced to the work of Ries and if one is interested there are 4 more offerings of his piano works performed by Susan Kagan and Christopher Hinterhuber on the Naxos label.
Track Listing and Times:
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 132 (34:59)
1… Grave-Allegro con moto
4…Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia’, Op. 116 (15:58)
5…Introduction ET Variations Brillantes, Op. 170 (14:35)
Total Time is 66:02