The Fourth Protocol/Schifrin
February 14, 2015
BSXCD 8948 LIMITED EDITION OF 1000 UNITS
Fourth Protocol Main Title
John Preston (Michael Caine) is given the task of trying to prevent the Russians from detonating a nuclear weapon. Directed by John Mackenzie the film also stars Pierce Bronson, Ned Beatty, and Joanne Cassidy. The film was shot in the UK and is based on the Frederick Forsyth novel. It did well at the box office and if you enjoy these types of films it is definitely worth a watch.
My preconceived idea was that the score was going to somehow mirror the “Mission Impossible” music he did for the popular television score and while there are moments similiar in some of the underscore it really isn’t like that at all. The opening cue “Fourth Protocol,” which I’ve included as an audio clip, will give you an excellent idea of the sound. It opens with two gunshot noises from the percussion followed by two more with the trumpets giving off a funeral salute followed by shimmering strings and a lumbering theme from the clarinet and bassoon a prelude for the brass to introduce the main theme with the lower strings playing a prominent part. “Govorshin, Karpov, Borisov,” the second track, opens with the bassoons a prelude to the clarinet who plays the main theme solo followed by an exchange between the orchestra which builds in intensity. String plucking from the double basses highlight the third track as they play against the orchestra. This is a technique that Schifrin uses throughout the score along with a three note motif that is followed by strings, what I like to call a Morse code sound from the string, trumpets, or other harmonic combinations. The strings in “The Freezer” have a tempo familiar to the original Batman television series.
Overall this is a score that you’re not going to walk away humming a memorable tune. There is no romantic love song. The closest that you’ll come to is the final track where you hear “Going Home” which makes use of the full orchestra and has a melody to it. However, having said that, there are several motifs and sound ideas some of them with the Schifrin sound that in the ears of this reviewer could easily fit into many other films. It on first listen will be a hard score to listen to unless you’re familiar with the film which I wasn’t. On further listens your ear will be waiting for all of the different motifs that Lalo conjured up for this thriller making it a worthwhile listening experience.
This soundtrack has been recorded before as noted in the Larson liner notes both on LP, which I have, and CD which I don’t have. I can say that this sounds to me as a nice improvement over what I previously had. If you’re a Schifrin collector this will be a welcome addition to your collection.