Animals United (2010)/David Newman
January 17, 2012
Did you know that David Newman was nominated for an Oscar for the film Anastasia in 1997? That growing up he intended to become a classical conductor and did lead such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Belgium, and L.A. Philharmonic? He has composed soundtracks for over a 100 films? His father was Alfred Newman, brother is Thomas Newman, and cousin is Randy Newman? While some of us might feel that he has taken a back seat to Randy and Thomas that is really not true at all. He is carrying on the outstanding Newman tradition as well as other family members.
This is the second release of David Newman that Perseverance Records has offered with their first being Runestone PRD 029 that has sold out.
Konferenz der Tiere (Animals United)– (2010) is an animated story about animals who unite against humans who have caused disasters such as a dam preventing water, oil spills, and forest fires. Based on the childrens novel The Animals’ Conference by Erich Kastner (1899-1974) who is also known for Parent Trap and Emil and the Detectives, originally wrote this as a pacifist satire using animals with world peace as a solution for the Cold War after World War II. The adapted satire was turned into an animated comedy with a message, aimed at the children’s market. This Constantin Film was made in Germany and produced and directed by Reinhard Kloos and Holger Tappe. The success of the film allowed US voices and a run at the theaters in the U.S. market. Some of the more prominent voices in the cast are Jim Broadbent, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, and Vanessa Redgrave.
David Newman composed a classical score that gets off the path for the emotional and comical scenes when called for but always returns to the classical umbrella. It is rich in harmony, counterpoint, and extremely well orchestrated. It has a minimum amount of electronics. Within the score you’ll find themes David created for the cast of characters such as Angie, Socrates, Charles, and Billy. Charles is especially clever being a variation of the French Marseilles. The main title “Animal Paradise” offers a full rich theme that takes advantage of the entire orchestra. It will pull your emotional strings without going too far and becoming syrupy. This theme is also prominent on the “Animals in New York track. As the theme unfolds you’ll hear other motifs and an ever present African rhythm which are prominent on many of the cues. “The Great Horn” while very brief is actually a very clever two note horn motif with properly placed notes coming from the other brass. “Monkey Jazz” is a brief jazz quartet cue that is dying to be expanded into a much longer improvisational piece. “Toby Meets Smiley” has quite a modern sound with the electric guitar and reminded me of the quirky style that Thomas Newman uses. “Russian Ship” will take you on a very brief Slavic dance journey. “Animals Techno,” a bonus track is the one track that is very synth sounding with twangy guitar and full of special percussion effects. I’ve included 4 audio clips in the track listing.
This was certainly a score that required many listens to maximize my enjoyment. On first listen I was quite annoyed with the huge number of tracks and the brevity of many as there are several under a minute. My ear would settle into one style of music and there would be an abrupt change to a completely different orchestration. That changed for me as I grew to appreciate and realize the complexity of what Newman weaved into this soundtrack. It is without a doubt a big step above what many of the modern scores are all about. It is well recorded and it was quite evident that the Berlin Score Orchestra enjoyed performing this material. It offers nice ambiance and clarity. It is available for $15.95 directly from www.perseverance.com
Total Duration: 01:07:12