May 10, 2016
PRELUDE TO JANE EYRE
Jane Eyre(1943) starred Orson Welles as Rochester, Joan Fontaine as Eyre, Margaret O’Brien as Adele Varens, Peggy Ann Garner as Jane Eyre as a child, Henry Daniell as Henry Brocklehurst, Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Reed and Elizabeth Taylor in an uncredited role. Directed by Robert Stevenson, a long time veteran, who might be best known for Mary Poppins, he began directing in 1932 and didn’t stop for 50 years. If you’re familiar with Orson Welles you’ll certainly see his influence in this 20th Century Fox high budget (1.7 million) film. With the tagline of “a love story every woman would die a thousand deaths to live” the often used obnoxious slogan chick flick applies.
Jane Eyre was the fourth film for Herrmann with his first three being Citizen Kane (1941), The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). It was also the beginning of a long relationship with 20th Century Fox that lasted for many years. However, this was a case where Herrmann was the second choice to do the film with the first being Igor Stravinsky who turned down the assignment. All of the mentioned films were written at a time when classical music was also part of Herrmann’s life. He had written a symphony in 1941 and had also completed his opera “Wuthering Heights” during this time period. What you’ll hear is a very classical score to this gothic romantic film. If you’re a fan of Herrmann you’ll hear many cues from other films that germinated from this soundtrack.
Highlights include the “Prelude” (audio clip included) which offers two of the major themes that you’ll hear throughout the course of this soundtrack. The ominous horns begin the serious main title. The theme is quickly picked up by the strings and it is carried in a heavy Germanic style. Then with little warning there is the theme for Jane offered by the sad oboe that instantly recognizes the Herrmann sound. “Jane’s Departure” begins with a new theme from the horns which is quite sad and mellow concentrating in the lower register. It ends with her carriage ride which is from a short section of “Swing Your Partners” from The Devil and Daniel Webster. You’ll also hear this theme briefly in “The Wedding-The Wife” which goes from happy and carefree with church bells to dark and ominous with a fugue from the organ. This 2:27 cue runs the entire gamut of emotions! “Thornfield Hall-Valse Bluette” reveals the Rochester theme in a brooding dissonant rendition. It is a far more complex theme than the Prelude or Jane themes. The “Valse Bluette” is a musical box theme created with a synthesizer for this recording. The Rochester theme is also featured on “Rochester’s Past” as first a sad variation which changes to a dissonant very difficult passage to play. It reveals both sides of an extremely complex bipolar character. The prelude theme is performed again but this time as depressing as Herrmann can muster. “Finale” is another variation of the prelude theme followed by a major key uplifting of the Jane theme and a bold happy ending crescendo.
Some consider this to be Herrmann’s finest score and while I don’t agree it is very nice and a keeper in my collection. Bruce Kimmel, owner of Kritzerland, was kind enough to send me a review copy that will go right next to the Naxos recording. I recommend that you have both in your collection. The newer digitally recorded is nice but the OST is great also. It’s nice to have both and enjoy the amazing talent of BH.
May 1, 2016
Harry’s theme from Save the Tiger
Directed by Robert Redford in his directorial debut and starring Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, and Timothy Hutton it was adapted from a novel by Judith Guest dealing the death of a son in a white collar family and all of the emotions that surrounded the situation. The film received 4 academy awards for picture, director, supporting actor, and screenplay as well as being a success at the box office. The public that attended took a good look at their own families so perhaps the film was helpful instead of entertainment.
Composer Marvin Hamlisch and director Robert Redford used the famous classical theme ” Canon in D” theme by Johann Pachelbel as the main theme and many of the other tracks. The theme, is a solid example of seriousness known to much of the listening office even if they had no idea where it came from. Hamlisch did a good job in arranging and orchestrating the theme in such a way that it was serious, light, dance , and religious. It appears as harmony and counterpoint and the use of it had to increase the sales of it making the classical world very happy. As I went through the tracks I enjoyed trying to find examples of it’s use.
“Do You Want Some Breakfast,” an original theme from Marvin is offered three different ways and is a sweet sentimental melody that is an alternative to “Canon in D.” One of the things that Marvin did was write all of his source music which includes classical, holiday, funk, elevator music, and country western.
This score is one that will appeal to you if you were moved by the film, La-La Land completest, or fan of Marvin Hamlisch. I found it appealing because I was listening to all of the different variations of the “Canon in D” theme.
The other half of the 2 fer is Save the Tiger (1974) a film directed by John G. Avildsen, Rocky fame, and starred Jack Lemmon starring as Harry Stonet, a Long Beach dress manufacturer, who goes through a period of 48 hours that prove to be life changing. Jack won the Oscar for Save the Tiger that year for best actor in a film that cost a little over a million to make and became a big hit with the younger and older generation, something hard to do.
Since part of the film dealt with the flashbacks of Harry Stonet and his service in WWII Marvin Hamlisch used a lot of material that was played during that time such as “Stompin at Savoy.” He did compose a great theme for “Save the Tiger” (Harry’s theme) that was written in the style of the 40’s. It was a sweet band slow dancing number that fit Harry perfectly. The track featured a fine trumpet, clarinet and clarinet solo. It also appears in “L.A. Sunset,” “Exit Factory,” and “Surf.” “Surf” was orchestrated for trio and featured vibraphone, trombone, and piano. His other theme was “Where Are All My Dreams?” written very much in the style of something that Burt Bacharach might have written. Listen to the rhythm and the piano chords and you’ll agree.
This is a soundtrack that will appeal to someone who enjoys the music of the 40’s as both the source and original music are from that era. While it is not a must have soundtrack it does nicely represent what Marvin Hamlisch did for Hollywood. He did win three Oscars you know and all on the same night; quite an achievement.