May 19, 2013
This Willard (2003) starring Crispin Clover and Laura Elena Harring is the remake of the 1971 version that starred Bruce Davison, Ernest Borgnine, Elsa Lanchester, and Sondra Locke with musical score by Alex North. The North score was never released and the only way to listen to it is to purchase the movie which is still available.
Shirley Walker (1945-2006), composer of the remake, who was known for her orchestral arranging talents and behind the scenes work certainly showed that maybe she should have been given more opportunities to compose but that is probably a story itself and left for another article.
While I was reading the John Takis notes before going to sleep I was so intrigued about the explanation of the orchestration I had to put it on first thing in the morning to listen to it. I was immediately impressed with what I heard. Not only did I hear the style of Herrmann (who better to learn from) but an arrangement which used 5 accordions and a bass accordion. As the track continues we are treated to creepy xylophone bars (like Herrmann) difficult triple tonguing trumpet phrases and all around one of a creepy tone we just know is going to scare us. All of this in just the first three minute!
The main title is repeated often throughout the remainder of the 51 minute score. The second track “Rats in the Basement” continues with the main title along with a hint of Dies Irae (Ben’s Theme) to provide an even more haunting effect. “Willard Checks Traps” is a short cue with shimmering strings followed by a repeat of the main title. “Demoted/Mr. Martin” clearly features the Dies Irae theme again. If you’re looking for a quiet track featuring a recorder and a major chord with a somewhat romantic oboe certainly not what you’d expect to hear if the previous tracks were any indication. The Socrates theme is the one exception in the score as it represents whatever love interest with Willard there might be in the film. “What Can We Do/That’s Not a Mouse” features some nifty brass passages that are nicely complemented with tremolo strings. A couple of the phrases are jazz like which did grab my attention. “Rats Chase Willard” is another track featuring the pounding pulsating relentless brass. The Ben theme is present along with slow tension building music. “End Credits” is a winding down of this roller coaster score with some quiet thought provoking music.
If you’re not into scary type music this is definitely one you can pass on as it won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you are into scary material you’ll find this to be one of the creepier ones you’ve ever heard. I’ve included an audio clip of the main title as a sampler.
As with many of the La-La Land releases this is a limited edition of 3000 units so while I anticipate stock for a time these recordings have a way of selling out. The John Takis notes and track analysis are on par with the best!
Total Duration: 00:50:13
May 12, 2013
Continuing her series on performing soundtrack material for solo piano Joohyun Park chose the minimalist composer Michael Nyman offering selections from seven different films including his award winning film The Piano (seven tracks) as well as material from Carrington, The Diary of Anne Frank, Drowning By Numbers, Enemy Zero, A Zed & Two Noughts, and Gattaca. Her previous album The Music of Battlestar Galactica, I found to be quite stimulating, well performed and recorded. She has also contributed to two compilation albums Goldsmith Rarities and Halloween Horror Hits also for BSX.
Although we must consider The Piano to be his soundtrack that gave him name recognition with the general public Nyman has stayed quite busy with composing, having done over 40 films. In fact when he was a critic in the 70’s he coined the phrase minimalist as the style of his way of writing music. Like his contemporary Philip Glass each track is based on the repetition and gradual alteration of short rhythmic statements that may also be melodic phrases. My first encounter with this minimalist type of style was quite negative as I thought it was little more than a series of chords which somehow didn’t seem to connect together. I also thought it was a twelve tone style which also made no sense to me at all. But perseverance and listening to many different works has changed my outlook and today I can say that I rather enjoy listening to this style of music. If your new to this style of music give it a chance and you may very well change your mind like I did.
The first six selections are from The Piano and will take you through the full gamut of emotions. It begins with “Big My Secret” which is a joyous and bright major key melody filled with endless chords. “Silver Fingered Fling” begins quietly with a melody that is repeated but quickly changes to forceful staccato chords of suppressed emotion before returning to a quiet period hinting at her roots. “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” definitely has Scottish feelings conveying her emotions with the two suitors in her life. Carefree, frolicking, and gaiety are the words to describe “Ship and Tides” from the film Drowning By Numbers. I’ve included this track as an audio clip. The complete opposite is true of “If” from the Japanese animated film The Diary of Anne Frank. It is a somber example of Nyman played in a dirge tempo with a deathlike quality. The track from Carrington, “Fly Drive” passes all too quickly (52 seconds) and is somewhat in a similar style to “Ships and Tides.” Since I’m not a ‘gamer’ the two tracks from Enemy Zero made little sense to me other than it is not something that I would expect to hear. “Tomorrow” from Gattaca is a return to the “If” style with less emphasis on the dirge tempo but still quite somber. “Departure” is also a quiet reflective kind of piece similar to “Tomorrow.” Not having seen the film a colleague pointed out it was somewhat bland compared to the original which doesn’t surprise me given the minimalist approach of Park on this CD.
Good speakers or headphones will bring out the finely tuned piano of Park’s which enhances this recording even more. While this recording is not for everyone’s taste people who know and appreciate Nyman will find this CD stimulating.
1… Big My Secret (2:46)
2… The Mood That Passes Through You (2:03)
3… Deep Sleep Playing (2:16)
4… Silver Fingered Fling (3:45)
5… The Attraction of the Pedaling Ankle (6:00)
6… The Heart Asks Pleasure First (2:34)
7… Fly Drive (0:52)
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
8… If (5:08)
9… The School Room (2:58)
DROWNING BY NUMBERS
10… Ship and Titles (2:22) (AUDIO CLIP)
11… Digital Tragedy (1:06)
12… Love (2:50)
ZED & TWO NOUGHTS
13… Time Lapse (3:33)
14… Tomorrow (3:13)
15… Departure (2:47)
16… Lost and Found (2:33)
TOTAL TIME IS 46:39