Re-released as digital only download on 03/16/10

Moross spent much of his early career in Hollywood as an orchestrator working on such films as Our Town and North Star (Copland), The Best Years of Our Lives, Joan of Arc, and The Bishop’s Wife (Friedhofer), Since You Went Away (Steiner) and many others. Friedhofer gave Moross a free hand with his orchestrations so it is pretty easy to hear his sound in certain parts of The Best Years of Our Lives, Hugo’s Oscar winning score. While you can’t hear his sound in the Copland pieces Our Town was his first orchestrating assignment and they remained good friends over the years. With the exception of his Oscar nominated Big Country, War Lords, Huckleberry Finn, and The Cardinal only small parts of his remaining scores have been recorded thanks to Silva Screen. This digital only release of the 1995 Silva SSD 1049 CD includes Sharkfighters, Rachel, Rachel, The Valley of Gwangi, Five Finger Exercise, Mountain Road, War Lord, Wagon Train, and Huckleberry Finn, a nice introduction to this sadly neglected composer.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) is a wonderful bright and bubbly theme that has that Moross sound. One might think it’s almost an extension of his Big Country score if you’re only familiar with the main theme. The four tracks included are a good representation of the complete score which is available on Film Score Monthly FSMCD Vol. 6 No.9.

Five Finger Exercise (1962) is a radical departure and sounds like it could have come from a modern video game with its swarming strings, deep bass, and science fiction sound. Though a short 5+ minutes it makes the listener wanting for more.

The main theme from Wagon Train, popular television in the 50’s and 60’s will almost bring a tear to your eye, another pure Americana piece.

War Lord is another available as a complete release on Varese VSD 5536. This compilation offers the listener 11+ minutes of the score. It is written as one would expect to hear, a slightly knightly baroque sound filled work with well thought out orchestration. Moross also wrote classical works and this work shows some of that influence.

Parts of “The Sharkfighter Overture” sound like a Broadway musical in the style of West Side Story. Other sections sound like a travel soundtrack. It is filled with Polynesian rhythms and harmony, dissonant brass chords, and music to remind one of beautiful white sandy beaches. In reality it was a film about the military developing a repellant to prevent sharks from attacking. Starring Victor Mature and Karen Steele this is one of the forgettable efforts from Hollywood except for the music. The Broadway influence certainly came from the fact that Jerome was also very involved in dance music for the stage.

Rachel, Rachel and The Mountain Road are both fine examples of his Americana style with Rachel offering some delicate style music. I love the beginning with the flute and oboe leading before the romantic strings takeover. Mountain offers more of that scenic western open range with mountains and blue sky another suite which is written in the style of The Big Country.

While the score to The Valley of Gwangi still has that Moross flavor it also has to have that science fiction sound as the plot of the film involves a tale of a cowboy who captures a dinosaur and puts it in a Mexican circus which is which is why the film has become a midnight madness cult picture.

This download is a wonderful way to introduce you to Moross beyond his classic Big Country. With the huge amount of releases over the past several years we can only hope that some of his material will be included in the future. Recommended.

Track listing:

1. Prelude (03:59)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. Huck’s Escape (03:10)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

3. The Mississippi (03:15)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

4. Flight and Finale (03:58)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

5. Romanza (from the concert suite Music for the Flicks) (05:27)

Five Finger Exercise

6. Theme (03:08)

Wagon Train

7. Prelude & Main Title (04:18)

The War Lord

8. What Of the Future? / Vengeance & Death / Finale (07:22)

The War Lord

9. Overture (11:22)

The Sharkfighters

10. Americana Miniature (Japonica Street / Shadow Pictures / A Walk in the Country / End Titles) (06:02)

Rachel, Rachel

11. Overture (Main Title / The Men / The Airplane / Destroying The Airbase) (06:22)

The Mountain Road

12. The Landscape / The Forbidden Valley / Pterodactyl Attack (05:15)

The Valley Of Gwangi

13. Capture of Gwangi / Gwangi Enchained (05:58)

The Valley Of Gwangi

14. Night in the Valley / Gwangi at the Cathedral / Death of Gwangi / Finale (07:31)

The Valley Of Gwangi

Total Duration: 01:17:07

The World At War/Davis

March 22, 2010

Ranked 19th by the BFI (2000 poll) in terms of popularity, the 26 episode 1973 television series produced by Thames Television and created by Jeremy Isaacs was a historic achievement offering rare color footage, interviews and material at a budget that broke all records for British television at the time. Narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, the series offered a different look at WWII with interviews from people who were directly involved in the war rather than being of celebrity status.

Carl Davis got involved and worked on original material for this massive project early on in his long and illustrious career in television and films. Originally released on a Decca LP (SPA 325), this re-release on the Davis label comes from the Silva release of November 2003 without new material. They are identical. However, the Silva/Davis recording does offer an expanded arrangement from the Decca recording with additional original music, sound clips of famous speeches of the era, and appropriate songs from the time period. Over ½ of the release is original Davis music sequenced in between the songs and speeches.

The Chamberlain declaration of war speech is a good introduction to the main theme “World At War,” a sad solemn theme followed by a very business like march theme ending with a violin solo before returning to the haunting beginning melody. “France Falls” is a 10+ minute cue featuring the mourning alto sax carrying the tragic melody followed by well placed chords from the organ, a nice bit of chamber orchestra arranging before returning to a slower dance style of the theme again with piano and strings. “Turkey Shoot” is an unusual arrangement of a relentless piano with vibraphone and trombones playing. It is a good underscore that depicts the return of the planes to the carrier. “Warsaw Aftermath” is a mazurka which turns into dissonance to create the true picture of the horror of what happened in Poland. “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” is an upbeat march with excellent orchestration; “GI Blues” again uses the mourning saxophones to lead into a nice blues composition that reminded me of a private investigator blues theme from Hollywood. “Reckoning” and “The World At War” end the CD with a restating of the tragic main theme. Mixed in are silly songs such as “Run Rabbit Run,” swing numbers like “Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer,” to the nationalistic “The Red Army is the Strongest,” with speeches by Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Chamberlain. While this isn’t the ingredients to a good listening experience it is important to the overall flavor of the soundtrack.

I have always enjoyed the versatile Carl Davis who seems to be at home in a broad genre of material. His orchestrating in this CD upon closer listening is quite unique and improves on multiple listens.

CD# is Carl Davis Collection CDC006

Edited and adapted by James Fitzpatrick

Track Listing:

Speech – Neville Chamberlain (0:44)

The World at War – Theme (3:56)

Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye – Gracie Fields (2:34)

The Washing on the Siegfried Line – Arthur Askey (2:33)

Boum – Charles Trenet (2:32)

France Falls – Suite (10:53)

Speech – Winston Churchill (0:31)

Adolf – The Billy Cotton Band (2:46)

Lili Marlene – Lale Anderson (3:14)

Red Star (4:07)

The Red Army is the Strongest – The Red Army Choir (2:41)

Speech – Field Marshal Montgomery (0:28)

This is the Army Mr. Jones – Irving Berlin (2:19)

G.I. Blues (3:05)

Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer – Anne Shelton (2:44)

Speech – General Eisenhower (0:21)

Arnhem Airlift (1:03)

Warsaw Aftermath (2:34)

Run Rabbit Run – Flanagan and Allen (2:44)

I’m Going to Get Lit Up – Carrol Gibbons (2:32)

Turkey Shoot (4:44)

London Pride – Noel Coward (3:24)

When They Sound the Last “All Clear” – Vera Lynn (3:21)

Blood Sweat and Tears (3:46)

Speech – Winston Churchill (0:23)

Reckoning (3:20)

End Titles (1:07)

Total Time is 74:45

Part 1 of a series of re-releases originally introduced on the defunct Russian Disc label, Delos offers a 1995 recording of music from the films The Young Guard (1947-48) and Zoya(1944).There will be three additional titles released over the spring and summer of 2010.

Shostakovich composed for 34 films over a period of 40+ years. As he was quick to point out Russian film-making was an industry not art and he was likely involved to put food on the table and pay his bills. Like the propaganda filled movies that he had to score, his scores were watched with scrutiny from Stalin. That being said, the material is far better than many scores you’re likely to hear during that time frame of the 40’s. Shostakovich was a master composer and it even showed in these propaganda pieces.

The material in this recording of The Young Guard (1947/48) comes from the suite that Leon Avtomyan arranged. It includes the best material in the 7 track 30 minute musical excursion but does omit the brooding prelude and the love music. The story is of young soldiers who carry on a reign of sabotage until they are finally captured by the Nazis, executed, and quickly become Russian martyrs of the highest order. “Introduction” is a proud majestic theme, lively in parts, solemn in others, and very Russian sounding. This is the heroic motif for the young guard. “By The River” is in two parts. The first is a slow adagio played very quietly with emotion followed by a bit of tension, a nice underscore. It ends by returning to the Adagio theme. “Scherzo,” while a mere 5 minutes long could easily fit into any symphony as a nice movement. This is a track which can easily stand on its own as a nice separate piece of music. “The Song Of Young Guard Members,” a march giving hope in its message reminds me of pieces I played in band in high school. “Apotheosis,” begins with music to put a tear in your eye and concludes with the theme from the “Introduction.” While I can’t recommend the film, I can give a recommendation to anyone who wants to a hear a traditional classical soundtrack.

Zoya(1944) is a similar tragic tale, this time the story of an 18 year old spy behind the German lines, although there isn’t a known print available. Also arranged for a suite by Leon Avtomyan the majority of the 18 tracks have found there way into this suite. In addition, the first track “Song about Zoya,” includes a biblical choral section which is quite moving and a reminder of Rozsa and Newman. This is one track which definitely could stand on it’s own in a compilation. Also included is a march in “Victory,” a moving somber “Apotheosis,” and a nice allegretto in “Invasion.”

In conclusion this is material that is likely not in your collection but should definitely be explored. Shostakovich was one of the best 20th century composers and any of his material is well worth listening to. Recommended.

Track Listing:

Contents:

Music from the Film The Young Guard, Op. 75 (1947-8)

Introduction (5:49)

By the River (4:08)

Scherzo (5:06)

Turbulent Night (3:35)

The Song of the Young Guard (3:43)

Death of the Heroes (4:52)

Apotheosis (3:27)

Music from the Film Zoya, Op. 64 (1944)

Song About Zoya (8:02)*

Invasion (5:21)

Execution (6:26)

Victory (4:33)

Apotheosis (6:44)

Total Time is 61:37

Engineer: Eduard Martens

Delos # is DRD 2001

Walter Mnatsakanov conducts the Byetorussian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra.

* Minsk Chamber Choir

Nordwand/Kolonovits

March 4, 2010

Digital Download in U.S.

After hearing the new Milan digital release to North Face, I’ve come to the conclusion that Christian Kolonovits is yet another composer who I’m not familiar with and likely should have explored a long time ago. Nordwand (North Face in US) is set in 1936 as the Nazis want to show off the fact that they are the superior race and assign two climbers to ascend the Eiger mountain to prove it. Previously released in 2008 in Germany by Milan as a CD it is now available in the US as a download as the film has finally found its way across the big pond to the US. Written and directed by Philipp Stolzl the film stars Benno Furmann, Florian Lukas, and Johanna Wokalek and was filmed on location in Austria.

Kolonovits is probably best known for his VSOP series, pop numbers with the Vienna Symphony, which have sold millions of copies over the years. He has done some film and television work but his only CD release in the soundtrack area has been this one, at least the only one I’m aware of.

Conducting the Budapest Film Orchestra Kolonovits has written the score with little in the way of modern film techniques. He has chosen the more traditional sound of a German sounding symphonic score that takes full advantage of the entire orchestra. Mainly written in an Adagio or Funeral March tempo, the classical listener will be reminded of Bruckner and Franck in the slow plodding development that the cues offers. This is a traditional offering except for the hammering sound effect of the spikes being pounded into Nordwand on certain cues, a nice touch. The “Prologue” introduces the main theme from first the horns followed by the woodwinds before being turned over to the strings. This theme is the one used in several of the tracks and memorable enough to find yourself unconsciously humming it if you listen to the soundtrack several times. “Luise and Toni-Love Theme” is a tragic love theme one of those heart yearning tunes where you feel the unhappy ending. “Eiger Sanction” is an example of a tension track without the need for a lot of loud dissonant brass to make the point. “Immer ran” is a throwback 30’s style song sung in German complete with all the noise you hear from a 78.

If you classical music you’ll find this 19th century soundtrack to your liking. I enjoy the way he approaches his harmony, his well thought out orchestrating, and the strong melody that is used throughout the entire score. If you’re ear is tuned toward the 21st century style this is definitely not the score for you. If you can curl up on your sofa and enjoy Franck’s “Symphony in D Minor” don’t hesitate to download and enjoy the subtleties that this soundtrack has to offer. Recommended.

1. Prologue (02:28)

2. Luise and Toni – Love Theme (03:19)

3. Hinterstoisser Traverse (03:28)

4. Eiger Theme (04:21)

5. Mühlsturhorn Trilogy (04:48)

6. Icefield (01:55)

7. Mehringer Discovery (01:55)

8. Turning Back (02:00)

9. Rappel (01:34)

10. Return to the Traverse (02:11)

11. The Eiger in the Storm (02:24)

12. Andi’s Death (02:15)

13. Toni Gives Up (06:38)

14. Epilogue (06:54)

15. Immer ran (2:15)

Total Time is 48:23