October 29, 2011
A historical film that takes place in the early part of the 20th century this picture deals with the relationship between Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein. The David Cronenberg film stars Michael Fassbender (Karl Jung), Viggo Mortensen (Sigmund Freud) and Keira Knightley (Sabina Spielrein). Set for release on November 23rd.The Howard Shore score deals very closely with the work of Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll.” Shore has created a very heavy Germanic sound. It incorporates the Idyll melody as well as two original themes. The highlight of the soundtrack is a thirty one minute solo piano rendition of the “Siegfried Idyll” which later became the core theme for his third entry into his 4 Ring Opera cycle.
Burgholzi (1:20) immediately offers the main theme from the piano a ten note motif that is repeated by the orchestra with an arrangement that mimics a Wagner opera. It is very loud, tonal, with brass motifs and swirling strings. The average listener would think it was taken from a classical work.
Miss Spielrein (1:36) is a different variation of the main theme with soft yearning strings and an overall eerie feeling. The tension is still quite high.
Galvanometer (1:03) enters the piano with quiet harmonic chords. It is still a continuing part of the first two cues.
Carriage (1:07) the main theme is repeated again starting with the piano and then the orchestra immediately takes over in a yearning version.
He’s Very Persuasive (2:13) begins with the main theme again and quickly gives way to a major key offering with the strings bursting through the clouds with a happy joyous moment.
Sabina (0:56) is a flute statement followed by another variation of the main theme.
Otto Gross (2:47) is very classical with powerful chords from the piano complemented by dark yearning strings, Beethoven like and a re-statement of the main theme with the piano very dark. Very classical cue. This sounds like and audio clip from a symphonic work.
A Boat With Red Sails (1:01) romantic piano and a statement from the oboe.
Siegfried (1:00) the first time we hear the Wagner theme performed on solo piano. Nothing complicated here just simple chords.
Freedom (1:12) this is a repeat of the galvanometer theme with Beethoven chords from the orchestra, the ever present piano and an overall yearning from the orchestra.
End of the Affair (1:05) an oboe offering of the main theme opens the track followed by a solo violin repeating the theme.
Letters (2:21) is a new offering from the piano; more harmony than a tonal theme. This is a definite mood setter and toward the end of the track we hear a repeat of the main theme with more yearning from the piano/orchestra.
Vienna (1:08) is a brief new theme followed by underscore.
Only One God (2:26) offers a majestic Bruckner horn fanfare as we hear a simple chord procession from the woodwinds and long continuous notes from the strings. The brass and strings become louder and then quietly fade.
Something Unforgivable (2:50) the Siegfried theme is offered by the solo piano which gives way to the string section who repeat the theme. The coda is a majestic religious statement from the orchestra.
Reflections (5:54) we hear a full on orchestral version of the galvanometer theme very Wagner. At nearly six minutes it is allowed to develop into a piano statement which is a variation of the main theme yearning and thought provoking. It ends with the Siegfried theme.
Siegfried Idyll (3:58) performed by Lang Lang is half of the soundtrack a very beautiful but very slow developing work. Absent are the complicated technical chords one would hear from Rachmaninoff. The playing is soft and delicate and Lang Lang certainly did his homework. Included is a reference ever so slight to the first four notes of the Beethoven 5th symphony about halfway through. I found that by the time he got to the end he had really drawn out the track. I was ready to listen to something else but it is a work that I’ll revisit.
This is not a score for everyone. For one to get maximum enjoyment out of this soundtrack it is important that you like classical and solo piano music. The Wagner influence is deep and Shore calls upon the German sound heavily. I found that repeated listens enhance the listening experience. The digital engineering is superb and I love the tone of the piano and the playing of Lang Lang.
October 26, 2011
It all began in July of 2005 with his release New Guy in Town/Guy Haines and already Kritzerland is releasing their 100th CD, Summer and Smoke, an Oscar nominated one for Elmer Bernstein. Elmer has ten nominations in his long composing career with this score losing to Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It also competed that year against El Cid (Rozsa), Guns of Navarone, (Tiomkin), and Fanny (Stoloff). Kritzerland has released eleven Bernstein soundtracks with five selling out but six are still available including this limited edition release of 1500 units.
The Tennessee Williams story took place in Mississippi in 1916. Alma (Geraldine Page) is a spinster that falls in love with John (Laurence Harvey) a dashing care free doctor who is interested in everything with skirts. Co-starring Una Merkel, Pamela Tiffin, Rita Moreno, and John McIntire Oscar nominations also went out to Merkel and Page.
Where Alex North created a cool jazz score for another famous work of Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire, this score is somewhat the opposite being classical, prim and proper, and somewhat period for some of the music.
Prologue (2:56) shimmering strings with a theme from the oboe complemented by woodwinds, flute, and harp make for an eerie opening. It sounds more like an opening for a ghost movie. Overall, this is a mood of tension. You’ll hear a reference to the main melody and the opening motif in several of the cues.
Prelude (2:36)* the main theme offers a bold statement and then reveals the romantic melody from the string section. The cue changes by way of a brass fanfare and becomes a piano melody of gaiety somewhat like To Kill A Mockingbird style with woodwinds answering the piano.
Glorious Hill Waltz (3:07)* definitely period music in a standard arrangement for band with the melody being complemented by the horns including a tenor tuba. This is a slow tempo track.
Rosa Enters (0:54) tension is offered with fluttering from the woodwinds and tremolo from the strings. This track came from the beginning of the prologue and that with a Copland chord.
John Comes Home/Changed/Decision/Hat Snatcher (3:04) four short cues not on the original LP are offered. They offer tension, a bit of romance, dreamy fluttering from the woodwinds. All of these cues are repeated in the soundtrack.
Two Lonely Women (2:34)* begins with a very sad theme in a minor key but as it continues we hear the hat snatching theme from the gypsy violin. It switches between orchestra and the yearning violin, which is somewhat chamber like.
Alma’s Dilemma (3:46) * offers a fluttering flute, swirling strings, and the return of the solo violin. There are some classic Bernstein chords we’ve heard before offering a combination of yearning and urgency. We also hear a bit of somber oboe with harp chords in the background.
A Stranger in the House (3:20)* flute, woodwinds, and percussion create a mood of tension. The sound of Elmer Bernstein is ever present on the cue.
John’s Patient (3:50)* harp chords begin this somber track. A flute offers a melody and there is swirling strings and woodwinds.
Cockfight (3:30) is solo classical acoustic guitar from Laurindo Almedia. The flavor is Spanish and don’t let the cue title mislead you.
Summer Thoughts (4:07)* lush strings complement a flute solo in this swirling romantic offering.
Greased Pig (4:22) flute, bassoon, cello and danger chords from the brass complement some rather creepy underscore.
Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Advice (2:48) the oboe gives this a hint of the mysterious orient. The prelude theme is repeated again and there is a brief cue at the beginning that gets as loud and brash as this soundtrack gets.
Alma’s Secret/Dr John’s Triumph (2:34) the band music, the prelude theme, and the gypsy violin are mixed with an overall sound of tension.
Alma’s Stone Angel (1:18) the prelude cue is heard followed by a return to the main theme.
The Tables Have Turned/Finale (7:32) is the longest cue comprising nearly ten percent of the material. The overall feeling is one of quiet tension and despair as things have come to a conclusion.
The Phyllis Gavotte (0:41) is an all too brief French dance performed by the band.
To Be or Not (3:05) a solemn religious cue which features a trumpet solo. Another performed by the band.
Alma’s Flareup (2:43) this is a classic sounding German beer barrel polka also performed by the band.
Southern Comfort Waltz (1:31) the band performs this waltz.
John Comes Home/Changed Decision (2:08) very similar to the beginning material in track five. It is a previously unreleased album edit.
Degeneration (2:48)* the album version of track 12 (greased pig) which has been edited. The lower register part of the orchestra offer some eerie music until it changes to the prologue theme from the accordion.
Moon-Lake Casino (2:25) (Rosa’s Dance)* a slow provocative sounding dance featuring Laurindo Almedia on guitar complemented by accordion. We hear the prologue theme again.
The Father’s Murder (2:33) (Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Demise)* one of the very few parts that has a bit of loudness and dissonant brass. Similar to cue thirteen but is one that appears on the LP.
The Final Irony and Finale (3:18) (The Tables Have Turned/Finale)* The edited version for LP which feature the prologue and blends into the prelude theme at the end of the cue.
In conclusion this is a fine score that doesn’t have any in your face material especially with melody but the subtle nuances are incredible. This was a smaller size orchestra that Elmer worked with. There are over 78 minutes of material offered. It is very thought provoking requiring all of your attention or you’ll miss what it has to offer. There is a definite influence from Debussy and Prokofiev and is very classical. The sound quality from the three track masters gives us a nice sounding CD.
October 22, 2011
The film, My Week With Marilyn, deals with Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with Sir Laurence Olivier and other royalty during the filming of The Princess and the Showgirl. Taken from two books written by Colin Clark (1932-2002), who also served as an assistant director, it stars Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, Toby Jones, Eddie Redmayne, and Judi Dench. Directed by Simon Curtis and filmed in the UK, this film has opened to mixed reviews. Some have said this is Oscar material for Williams while others have expressed disappointment. Not having seen the film yet it is hard for this reviewer to comment or draw any conclusions.
The music is set for a digital release on November 1st and CD to follow. The main title is composed by Alexandre Desplat and performed on piano by Lang Lang. Additional music is by Conrad Pope along with appropriate source music of the 50’s featuring Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. Michelle Williams also offers three songs. I’m declaring Oct. 2011 as Pope Month since this is the third review I’ve done of his material in October.
Marilyn’s Theme (1:47) is a wonderful theme from Desplat nicely performed on the piano by Lang Lang and a huge plus to this film. It is a throwback to golden age film music days when you were whistling the theme as you exited the theater. This is not a melody you’ll soon forget if ever. You’ll hear this theme throughout the soundtrack.
When love goes wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right’ & Heat Wave (2:10) are sung by Michelle Williams with a Latin jazz sound featuring some very effective use of the bongos. She sings in a sexy attention getting voice with excellent phrasing.
Colin Runs off to the Circus (3:02) is the first of some very nicely arranged orchestral underscore. It reminds me of material that I heard in The Terminal and Catch Me If You Can. Light and airy it features some nice string work along with the woodwind section.
Colin Joins the Circus/Mr. Jacobs (2:04) offers a big band Stan Kenton style arrangement where several instruments have a few bars of solo offering including trombone, sax, trumpet, bass and nicely lead by the percussion.
Driving through Pinewood (0:48) features the piano of Lang Lang in a very brief underscore track. There is a nice feeling of motion underscore.
Paparazzi (2:54) begins with the Marilyn theme in a very lush offering with full romance from the strings and harmony being provided by the horns. As the delicate piano chords end the theme it is replaced by a version of Les Baxter’s “Quiet Village” arranged Mancini style with flutes, the sound that made Henry famous.
Colin and Vivian (1:24) begins with a similar sound to the Colin runs off cue but shifts gears and becomes rather quiet and subdued with Lang Lang piano and solo flute.
Memories Are Made of This (2:18) this is a Dean Martin favorite that generally fits the mood of the soundtrack. The mono remaster is a nice clean one.
Rushes (1:27) Flutes and soft strings make this underscore delicate and mourning.
Lucy (0:46) features some nice piano work from Lang Lang in underscore material similar to tracks three and five.
Uno, Dos, Tres (2:43) is performed by La Tropicana Orchestra in a Desi Arnaz mambo arrangement.
Arthur and Marilyn (2:11) offers a dose of yearning material without a melody. It is a colorful orchestration that certainly sets the mood.
Marilyn Alone (1:38)) is back to the Marilyn theme performed with delicacy and feeling from Lang Lang.
Arthur’s Notebook (2:17) offers another dose of soft quiet underscore featuring a solitary clarinet and pretty piano chords. A flute solo adds a touch to the track.
Vivian Screens Marilyn (1:38) is back to more delicate material with the clarinet backed up with soft strings and piano chords.
The Getaway (1:46) takes us back to very similar material as what we heard in Colin runs off with a little more emphasis placed on the brass. It ends with a re-statement of the Marilyn theme from the piano.
You Stepped Out of a Dream (2:40) is a clean mono remaster of the classic Nat King Cole/Nelson Riddle song that was extremely popular in the 50’s.
Eton Schoolyard (1:20) great brass is featured in a nice swinging cue complete with clarinet and a Gene Krupa drum beat.
Autumn Leaves (2:40) is another Nat King Cole standard in a romantic Nelson Riddle arrangement featuring strings. This too is a mono remaster that is clean and crisp.
Overdose (3:31) tension and anxious piano and strings are offered in this dramatic underscore material. As the cue unfolds we hear another offering of the Marilyn theme from the piano. Tremolo from the strings and well placed piano chords end the track.
Colin’s Heartbreak (1:47) the flute offers the Marilyn theme backed with lush strings and a solo clarinet. The track ends with Lang Lang playing the Marilyn theme once again.
Colin and Marilyn (3:08) begins with a variation of the main theme in a quiet setting. The clarinet offers no theme but background color and a feeling of loneliness.
It’s a Wrap, I found a Dream (2:37) begins in a frantic pace with piano and strings and without warning shifts to a Michelle Williams solo and ends with the piano of Lang Lang playing the main theme once again.
Such Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (3:36) another lush dose of romantic Marilyn theme designed to bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. The tempo is somber and funeral like.
Remembering Marilyn (3:19) offers the final cue we hear the delicate piano and lush strings of the main theme.
That Old Black Magic (2:44) ends the soundtrack with a sexy rendition of the standard sung by Michelle Williams. Good piano work, nice rhythm, and well placed strings make this an excellent track.
This score offers lots of soft romantic material, a great Desplat melody, nice source material, some Latin flavor, a little big band, and the sexy voice of Michelle Williams. There is nothing loud and dissonant about any of it. I think Pope will be doing less arranging and a lot more composing in the future.
October 21, 2011
Based on Marc Forby’s historical novel about Hawaii trying to maintain their independence from the US in the late 1800’s Oscar winner Steven Warbeck wrote a melodic and moving score. His classical knowledge is quite evident as he created several different themes, harmonies, counterpoint, and an overall fine soundtrack that comes highly recommended. The Movie Score Media release is available on CD from SAE on October 25th and digital download from iTunes on October 18th. It is a limited edition of 500 copies and with the new policy of stating that it is a first edition. The score is performed by the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andreas Delfs.
The Beach and the Past (2:52) starts with a very soft piano backed by the strings of the symphony orchestra. As the track unfolds the strings offer the main melody which is not overused but is repeated or variations of it. The vibraphone gives the cue a sense of Hawaii but this is quite subtle. I like the way the piano is used as it leads and also offers support for the orchestra.
The King and the Protestors (2:30) is a cue of slow building tension with the snare drum and horns making it majestic. Danger from the horns, tremolo strings, a constant beat from the timpani build to a variation of the main theme. The woodwinds end the track.
The Princess of Nowhere (3:50) offers delicate soft piano backed by shimmering strings which is a buildup to the main theme again played by the strings. It is very quiet, peaceful, and tranquil with support coming from harp, flute, and clarinet.
Alone (1:10) is very classical and majestic, something you would hear during a royal gathering. This stately cue is all too brief.
Barcarolle (2:12) is the first of two times that part of Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons Op. 37B for solo piano is offered. The Barcarolle, an imitating of a Venetian boat song, was his June offering and has been used as source music. It is very delicate and quite romantic.
The Letter (1:17) introduces another melody that has a yearning violin backed by the harp and piano.
The Reception (2:08) begins with a small chamber orchestra, a happy Mozart style of classical dance. The theme is played by Cello until there is a full crescendo from the orchestra and the sound becomes modern. This track is yet another new melody.
The Shells (2:17) The delicate piano returns and with the orchestra offers another variation of the main theme. A yearning violin provides counterpoint.
Memory (1:36) The piano is answered by the harp with shimmering strings. A slight reference is made to the main theme.
The World in the Room (1:37) More underscore is offered with the piano and harp with clarinet and horns complementing.
Ka’iulani (2:06) A prelude is offered for solo piano with two melodies blending together at the end of the cue. Very soft and delicate
What Happened to Our Country (2:18) French horn and brass with a hint of a snare drum and timpani give us a patriotic cue.
New World (2:18) This time the trumpets /trombones offer the theme of patriotism.
The Pepper Story (1:10) is piano/strings as the new world theme continues. Quite lush and relaxing.
Plotting A cue of subdued tension offers shimmering strings and well placed horn calls and percussion.
The Beach and the Letter (1:46) A quiet version of the main theme. This is music to fall asleep too.
Eden Lost (1:43) Solo violin with harmony from horns offer this lullaby with a new prelude from the piano.
The Amendment (1:21) The main theme is offered with chords from the harp enhancing a soft yet majestic cue.
Leave Taking (3:04) Piano with strings in the background offers a variation of the new world theme. Very quiet and peaceful, somewhat funeral like.
A Nation Died (1:42) A solo cello offers a yearning for better day’s theme before the orchestra offers a variation of the main theme.
The End (3:23) Piano backed by the symphony orchestra offers a sad theme but part way through there is a breath of happiness from the flute and clarinet. Classical piano ends the cue.
Barcarolle (4:52) This is the complete version of the Season piece. Something to meditate to.
If you like your scores full of melodies with soft delicate strings and piano this release from MSM will make you very happy. There is not a hint of brash dissonance, loud over the top melodies, shrieking strings, or blaring brass. This is very much 19th century romantic music. Nicely recorded, performed, and engineered this is one to listen to after a hard week.
CD# is MMS 11017
October 19, 2011
Stravinsky and his music have been studied by many modern composers. His music had so much to do with rhythm that there are some who feel his Rite of Spring was the work of the 20th century. Morricone created one of the more unusual scores for the 1982 film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell. His score is all about rhythm. While a remake of the original film made fifty years ago both are based on the short story “Who Goes There” written in 1938 by John Campbell. The 1951 film was directed by Howard Hawks with a film score from Dimitri Tiomkin. The writer received $500 for the use of his story.
Alan Howarth who has worked with John Carpenter on other material did this re-recording of the original Morricone score with assistance from Larry Hopkins. It is all programmed electronic material.
The Thing-Main Title (1:45) begins the soundtrack with a long extended chord very low register which is followed by a second and a third. It offers a three note motif.
Main Theme-Desolation (4:29) is what people remember as far as the music is concerned from the film. The track begins with rhythm only and the theme introduced is two notes with harmony while the relentless percussion continues.
Humanity 2 (2:42) continues with the two note theme without rhythm along with a variation in the harmony.
Despair (4:46) Tremolo strings begin the track and set the table for another simple four note theme. This is like previous tracks repeating over and over until the strings offer a melody again of loneliness and isolation.
Humanity (6:51) offers another variation of the main theme this time a bassoon answering woodwinds as well as harp, violin, and bass, the brass playing the two note material.
Shape (3:18) Bass line complements distant horns in a new melody. Quite dissonant in sound as the horns blare its climax turns into piano.
Burn It (2:22) the use of different frequency sound waves is the major offering of the track.
Solitude (5:32) is a new theme that the strings play is quite complex. Horns and piano complete the atonal exercise.
Fuchs (2:26) is a long series of organ chords with harmony. Builds to a loud climax and then quiets down.
Mac’s Shack (2:54) offers a long extended organ note with an atonal background.
Wait (6:21) begins with a brass fanfare which leads the listener to a high pitched theme from the violins, a mourning melody of sadness, tension, and fear.
Sterilization (3:43) is a simple melody with a pulsating rhythm to it. The theme is complemented by another organ harmony.
Eternity (5:26) starts with tinkling percussion that leads to an atonal section with harmony and counterpoint. This track sounds too electronic for my taste.
Contamination (1:01) offers string plucking in a very Stravinsky like fashion. All about tempo.
Bestiality (2:55) A bit more complex is the theme offered on the cello repeated with strings and finally horns.
Main Theme-End Credits (4:34) the unrelenting theme is repeated over and over with never ending rhythm from the percussion.
This is not a score for everyone. However fans of the film will definitely want to have this in their collection. The underscore material is mostly atonal and the concept was to convey a sense of isolation which it certainly succeeded in doing. The re-recording sounds fine with the exception of the Eternity track which I found too synthesizer sounding. You can hear a difference between the original recording and this one but I found both of them are good recordings. Besides the price of a used copy of the Varese release is way too expensive. The main theme is strong and one you’ll not forget. Fans of the film and Morricone will certainly welcome the re-recording of this classic material. I would explore the sound clips from BSX and have a careful listen before making a purchase. It is available as a download with a limited edition CD of 1500 units on October 5th. The total time for the score is 60:15.
October 18, 2011
I compare Conrad Pope to Hugo Friedhofer because as orchestrators they were in such demand. While Pope was being wooed by Williams and Desplat, Friedhofer was wanted by Steiner and Korngold. The amazing thing about all of this is when it is all done there are six different styles and each is unique. Friedhofer and Pope could orchestrate so Waxman could sound like Thomas Newman!
In My Sleep was a first composer release for MSM of Conrad Pope in 2009. The recent release of The Presence caught my attention and I immediately wanted to hear more. Yes this reviewer is a year behind but I am catching up! https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/presenceconrad-pope/
Co-produced, directed and written by Allen Wolf, In My Sleep is a thriller dealing with parasomnia (a blackout during sleepwalking) that creates tension and mystery for the viewer.
The Main Title opens with a quiet background of strings and the flutes offer a motif of five notes with the piano answering them back. The strings become disturbed as there is a sense of urgency. Tinkling and blowing wind sound send us to the second melody, a romantic one from the piano with fluttering flutes. Finding Gwen opens with staccato strings, a horn motif, pounding timpani and overall this is very urgent music. Night Music is a romantic cue for solo piano, very brief but quite melodic. The same melody is repeated in Distant Dream and the end of the Going Home track. Before we hear the romantic theme the track over four minutes offers some dreamy material with fluttering flutes, piano, and major chord material from the violins. The flutes give it a James Newton Howard sound. Nightmare Begins starts with an eerie lower register statement from the violins complemented by the flutes and percussion. There is an extreme urgent passage from the strings which quickly ends and the remainder of the cue is very creepy. There is a hint of Psycho strings. The Morning After offers a flute and clarinet in a sad offering. The theme is one of yearning and very slow moving. Funeral like opening quickly turns to tension, very low register sound with excellent rhythm in Gwen at the Cemetery. Nightmare Begins starts with an eerie offering complemented by the flutes and percussion. Extreme urgency from the strings turns very quiet as a creepy offering is played by select strings. The Finale is like the dawning of a spring day; a cue where the symphonic arrangement is lush and romantic. Just as you’re lulled into a sense of relaxation the rock band offers the theme song In My Sleep performed by Damesviolet. This is a typical loud twangy tune with the phrase in my sleep repeated a hundred times. Not my style but the younger generation I’m sure like it. Horns who have a bit of a holiday on this soundtrack offer a Herrmann sounding harmony with urgent strings backing them for Underwater. The remainders of the tracks are more underscore with flutes playing an important role in the music.
I certainly like the way Conrad tackled this score. He achieved the mood he was looking for without having to resort to loud dissonant passages and approached it in a Herrmann sort of way. While much of it is underscore without thematic material it is very easy to listen to. As noted there are some lovely melodic passages as well.
|Main Title (02:31)|
|Finding Gwen (01:49)|
|Night Music (00:59)|
|The Nightmare Begins (03:03)|
|Morning After (02:20)|
|Gwen at the Cemetery (02:22)|
|Blood Drops (02:27)|
|Police Search (01:36)|
|The Second Nightmare (03:33)|
|Visions of Father (00:45)|
|Awkward Date (02:49)|
|Justin’s Plea (01:17)|
|Triangle Park (02:01)|
|Hiding the Knife (02:57)|
|Going Home (04:10)|
|Home to the Truth (01:28)|
|Remembering Father (04:43)|
|Desperate Resolution (01:48)|
|A New Beginning (00:53)|
|Distant Dream (00:47)|
|Reconciliation (Finale) (01:24)|
|Theme Song – In My Sleep* (03:36)
performed by Damesviolet
Total Duration: 01:03:41
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony
CD# is MMS-10007
October 17, 2011
Van Cleave spent much of his career as an orchestrar having done work for Gershwin, Hefti, and CBS. He was a student of Joseph Schillinger, a Russian born composer who was very active in New York in the 30’s, creator of the System which I’m sure influences the approach of this particular score. He was also the orchestrator who was told to redo the waltz “Plaisir d’Amour” a composition used in The Heiress by Aaron Copland who as a result refused his Oscar award. Indirectly Van Cleave sort of won an Oscar. He is also known for his fine work on the Twilight Zone having composed material for twelve episodes.
The low budget film from Paramount had a simple storyline. A father builds a giant robot and uses the brain of his genius son Jeremy (Ross Martin) who died tragically. The results are not what he anticipated. It was billed to the public as a thinking man’s science fiction film with subplots about peace not war, turning the polar icecap into a garden to grow food, and general humanitarian themes. The giant robot created by his brother Henry (John Baragrey) and father William (Otto Kruger) is a modern day Frankenstein with eyes that emit electronic ray guns. His little boy Billy (Charles Herbert) befriends the giant (Ed Wolff) and the syrup is off and running. Anne Spensser (Mala Powers) has two suitors almost immediately, Henry and Dr. John Carrington (Robert Hutton) for the love interest. The special effects and electronic machinery were fine for 1958 but there was a constant noise level whenever they were on which could be annoying to some viewers. This reviewer also feels that there were times that the actual score did get in the way of the film itself.
Working very closely with composer/arranger Fred Steiner you’ll hear one of the most unusual scores you’ve ever encountered. Scored for three pianos, celesta, and organ this work has very little to offer in the way of melody yet it isn’t a twelve tone (Schoenberg) composition. The three pianos create harmony, mood, and their presence is very evident in the film The celesta is used as an instrument for Billy and the organ is source material for the party and the funeral. Main Title/Machinery opens the film with powerful chords from the piano. It is played with the main titles in front of a New York skyline picture. It sounds like it could be the start of a Shostakovich piano concerto. As the theme is just beginning to develop it changes gears and mimics the sound of automated machinery excellent underscore for the movie being shown within the movie. Famous Man is the beginning of a lovely prelude but you can hear dialogue of Billy in the background and the track only 30 seconds ends very abruptly. Family Chapel, a variation on the famous man theme is backed by harmony from the organ to give it a religious feeling. There is also a hint of dialogue in the background but nearly as evident as the famous man track. A very classical sounding track Alpha Waves offers high notes in a major key with harmony being offered by another piano to make this a very listenable cue. The Colossus/Decision to Live, some dialogue in the background, makes reference to the main title (colossus theme) and repeats some chords from the alpha wave theme. As quickly as it turns to a dissonant somewhat distorted sound it changes to a somewhat more subdued material. The Finale restates the main theme and ends with a long pedal from the piano bringing out the resonance sound. The Billy motif is usually reserved for the Celesta but is referenced in Missing Billy on the piano quickly followed by the Celesta. It also appears in Billy and the Giant, A Toy For Billy, and Colossus Falls.
This is not going to be a score that will appeal to everyone as the material/arranging is just too far from the norm. Having said that I’m sure with the rhythm Stravinsky would have found it very interesting and this reviewer is more in that camp. Your listening experience also has to tolerate a certain amount of faint dialogue in the background. I’m confident that FSM did all they could so it was a matter of releasing it as is or not at all. I would certainly vote for the release. Space Child will be reviewed separately. The release is limited to 1500 pressings.
FSM Vol. 14 No. 15
Total Duration: 01:01:15