I put this release in the classical category as the tracks are wonderful duets of a husband and wife team on violin (Hedman) and piano (Redfeld) as well as three selections featuring clarinet (Foster) and trumpet (Washburn) also with Redfeld on the piano. John Williams music translates very nicely into this chamber music style, something that can’t be said of other composers. I certainly applaud BSX for continuing this unofficial series of young composers in a most intimate setting. In my opinion I feel that the listener is being exposed to chamber music and it will encourage them to seek out additional material. On this particular CD some of the selections are arranged by Williams, others by Redfeld, and some are Williams arrangements that have been modified by Redfeld.
There isn’t a nicer way to listen to Schindler’s List than in a duet with piano and violin of not only the main title from the film but also the tracks “Jewish Town” and “Remembrances.” This arrangement comes from John Williams and is performed by Hedman and Redfield. The violin offers the melody (voice) and the piano the harmony making for an effective arrangement). A very pleasant way to listen to fifteen minutes of Schindler’s List.
In The Terminal: “Viktor’s Tale” Donald Foster, clarinetist of John Williams, is featured in a reprise of his solo in the film. Talk about a catchy theme this is one that you’ll remember once you’ve heard it. Again in this arrangement the clarinet provides the melody (voice) and the harmony comes from the piano. Monsignor’s “Main Theme” features the fine trumpet of David Washburn in a track where the melody is shared with the piano as each offer harmony. This is also true of the “Main Theme” from JFK. Both of the trumpet solos are of the proud and majestic type, what you might expect from a trumpet. One of my favorites on the CD is “End Credit” from Dracula. Both share the melody in one of the better Gothic romantic themes ever. This reviewer thinks of a raucous fast paced arrangement of Fiddler on the Roof but to my surprise it is somewhat refrained and very nice to listen to.
I can find no fault at all with any aspect of this recording except for a bit of a couple of the digital images beginning to break up. The sound recording and mastering, liner notes, and selection of material are all top notch. This would be a nice selection to your collection. Give BSX a gold star for continuing on this fine series. Recommended.
April 12, 2015
DRAGON’S DOMAIN DDR 601 LIMITED EDITION OF 1500
Belstone Fox Theme
Back in the 70’s film soundtracks were filled with melodies, ones that you could remember and hum for days until you heard another one by such composers as John Barry, Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams among many others. Part of that group included the extremely talented British composer Laurie Johnson who you might remember as doing the “Avengers” theme. Johnson has written scores for over 400 film and television series. His style reflects at least on this recording his formal training from the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Without investigating the story seems to be an excellent children’s story about a fox, abandoned, and raised with fox hunting dogs. However, if you watch it you’ll see that there is violence in it with the killing of the baby foxes early on and the fox hunting dogs later on. I think it is not terribly popular today due to the banning of fox hunting as a sport. I was also not impressed with the way they spotted the music but neither of these two things has anything to do with the superb score of Laurie Johnson and if your into some of the older classic scores this is a must buy for you. It was released on a Ronco LP in 1973 and this is the second release on the Dragon’s Domain company who will specialize in limited hard to find soundtracks. It is being distributed by BSX.
The “Belstone Fox” theme dominates the first fifteen minutes of the film. It begins with a single low note, a trumpet call and then the English Horn introduces the sad melody who turns it over to the strings who eventually turn it back to the English Horn. This melody will be heard often during this soundtrack. It isn’t until there is a scene with the growing puppies that a second theme appears. “Early Days” begins with fox theme but into the track we hear a second theme, a bouncy upbeat one tht is also used quite often. The theme returns with the clarinet playing the theme with nice harmony from the harp. Johnson makes excellent use of his woodwinds which include Clarinet, Oboe, English horn, and bassoon. His string harmony is also quite unique, something I’ve not heard before. “The Friendship” starts with the strings offering a new theme until a new upbeat theme is introduced from the English horn with the flute participating. It ends with some nice horn work doing double tonguing. The first three tracks give the listener a nice idea of how well Johnson is classically trained. “Reunion” features a fox hunting theme with horns leading the way. If you’re familiar with Bernard Herrmann one can hear a hint of him in a couple of the chords as well as Bruckner from his 4th symphony. “The Belstone Hunt” turns to dissonance coming from all parts of the orchestra to a background of a steady beat with violins repeating the same notes over and over. “Badger Hill,” the final track begins softly with ominous tones in the background as the strings don’t play a theme but chords as do the trumpets. It ends as it began with the return of the fox theme in a heartfelt style.
The sound quality I found to be most adequate if you keep in mind it is an analog recording. I’m glad that Mark and Ford found this hidden gem. Not only are the themes great but the arranging and orchestrating are some of the best I’ve heard.
April 1, 2015
PRELUDE TO U BOATS
Thirty years ago a large television station in Los Angeles (KABC) produced a series of thirty minute WWII documentaries which included music from a previously composed material for a forgettable B film Wheels of Fire and used it as the soundtrack for their series. In the thirty years that have followed there has been an lp on Cerebus, a demo CD, and now this 1000 limited edition on BSX. While I’ve not seen any of the episodes I will trust the liner note writer Randall Larson that the material matches up quite well as the Wheels of Fire soundtrack has yet to become available. This was a practice that Hans Salter, composer of Universal horror films did on a regular basis. Christopher Young (1957-) has gone on to become a successful Hollywood composer, teacher at USC and UCLA, and has taken under his wing many budding composers an opportunity to learn and get their foot in the door. Chris has over 120 film credits with a golden globe nomination for perhaps his best work The Shipping News (2002) as well as numerous awards for many of his horror films.
“The Prelude” begins with a nice major keyed melody, a little hint of a Star Wars theme from first the horns and then the strings. It is proud and majestic with military fanfare and I would guess that this theme was the introduction to each of the episodes. “The German War Machine” opens with a prelude that leads to the dark and mysterious and then the track lumbers along without melody in staccato fashion with a mimicking of the clanking of machinery, the piano chords off key and the snare drum indicating military. “The Homefront” offers the listener a harmonica, strings, piano, and snare drum with strings joining forces with the brass to provide a lushness that will tug a bit at the heart strings. Listening to this track you’d be fooled that this is war material except snare drum identifying the tie in with the soldiers. “The Pacific Fleet” is one of my favorite tracks an underscore one which makes effective use of the entire brass as the ascending strings bring it to a climax. What follows is a series of dissonant motifs from vibes, brass, percussion, and piano chords. The low strings in a minor key enhance the track even further. “A North Atlantic Passage” another favorite track begins with a theme from the horns which repeats and segues into another low register display of dissonant trombones with tinkling percussion all around. The track ends with another dissonant motif. “The Prisoners” is another nice piece of orchestration with distorted brass motifs along with an emphasis on the low register. “Aftermath” as the title suggests opens with the lonely horns in a funeral like setting. It is a short track that depicts the horror of war. I can say that each track is unique as there is no central melody that attempts to tie them together. The forty minute length of the CD will go by quickly and you’ll find your own favorites.
Randall Larson summed it up nicely: “Their use in these programs has likely allowed the music to be heard far beyond their use in the original films while at the same time Young’s music gave Jone’s documentaries a powerful musical dynamic that definitely increased their production value.” Isn’t that the job of good film music?
1…. Prelude (1:54)
2…. The German War Machine (1:55)
3…. Invasion (3:28)
4…. Aftermath (1:56)
5…. The Resistance (4:44)
6…. Panzers (1:04)
7…. Fortress Europe (1:38)
8…. Blitzkrieg (2:52)
9…. The Homefront (2:48)
10….The Pacific Fleet (3:04)
11….A North Atlantic Passage (2:58)
12….The Prisoners (3:13)
13….Operation Overload (2:42)
14….The Price of Victory (0:56)
15….The Push to Berlin (2:14)
16….Those Not to Be Forgotten (2:20)
Total Time 41:26
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.
January 18, 2015
The World Only Lovers See
As a sequel to https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/jerry-goldsmith-collection-rarities-vol-1compilation/ without Dominik Hauser but with the addition of Dan Redfeld to the talents of Northam and Park, the trio individually performs 21 songs of a man who like Gershwin was never without creating a new melody, Jerry Goldsmith. In a 40 year span from 1960-1990 he was the dominant force of Hollywood soundtracks producing 71 scores in the 70’s alone. This compilation spans a 30 year period from 1963-1993 offering something from all of the different genres Goldsmith wrote for.
The three soloists chosen for this BSX project are as diversified as the subject material and multiple listens to this CD will reveal the style of each pianist. A good example of this is the main theme to “100 Rifles” which is treated in the style of an etude de concert. Joolyun Park is delicate and forceful with an arrangement of some degree of difficulty. You wouldn’t know that this melody came from a western! The arrangement that Northam chose for the theme Free As The Wind from Papillon again hardly sounds like it belongs in a film only lacks a tinkling of glasses in the background to make it complete. The love theme from “Coma” rather than approached with softer touches is approached by Redfeld with strong powerful strokes in parts. Free as the Wind from “Papillon” is arranged in such a fashion that you’ll scarcely recognize the theme from the complex arrangement created by Northam without overdubbing. A well done quite classical interpretation. “The Sand Pebbles,” one of my favorite love themes from Goldsmith is created in a simple rather laid back fashion again by Northam. Who wouldn’t like “Rudy” treated in grand fashion by Redfeld who uses chords to make his point that this is a must have for Goldsmith fans and people who just like nice easy to listen to music. Even the “Walton’s Theme” which I associated with a sappy corny television series seems to flow rather easily in my audio canals.
While I can’t classify this as a soundtrack recording I can say that this is one a soundtrack listener will enjoy. It is a different way to listen to some of the themes that Goldsmith created. If you’re with a non soundtrack listener you can be the star by being able to tell what movie these were written for as well as having nice background music. Who knows that the theme might not inspire someone to purchase the entire soundtrack. The sound quality produced a nice smooth listening experience for me through my Intersound speakers.
1…. Rudy (3:16)
2…. Dennis the Menace (2:32)
3…. The Walton’s (2:27)
4…. Babe (1:47)
5…. 100 Rifles (2:11)
6…. Forever Young (3:09)
7…. Warning Shot (1:43)
8…. The Chairman (3:18)
9…. Morituri (3:39)
10.. The Prize (2:35)
11.. Coma (3:27)
12.. The Edge (2:57)
13.. The Other (3:36)
14.. Runaway (2:11)
15.. Explorers (2:02)
16.. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (2:40)
17.. Justine (2:38)
18.. The Sand Pebbles (2:38)
19.. Papillon (3:00)
20.. In Harm’s Way (2:37)
21.. The Russia House (2:37)
Total Time is 57:47
August 3, 2014
Limited edition of 1000 units
Warriors of Virtue (1997) was a dream come true for the four Law brothers who had the money to fund a film of their dreams. They emigrated from Hong Kong to Colorado and produced a fantasy/wire-fu/comedy about five warriors who each carry one of nature’s elements in his staff: wood, earth, fire, water, metal. Directed by Ronnie Lu the film failed at the box office and has more or less disappeared. The important thing that remains is the Don Davis score, one filled with fantasy, adventure, and tension phrases that seem to be nonstop for the 72 minute soundtrack. Previously released over 15 years ago on the Prometheus label (PCD 144) it is long out of print thus this new BSX re-release of the material.
One of the things that the Lee brothers insisted upon was they wanted it to sound like a John Williams score. Davis began working on the project in 1995 as he was commissioned to do a piece for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. It was from this commissioned piece “Of the Illuminated” that the motifs for the characters were found. The five motifs are all represented in “Forces of Nature” and “The Force of Water” cues. Davis explained in the liner notes how grueling this was to do and when there was a scene that required counterpoint of all five themes it was hard to “integrate them all without it sounding like a big mush.
“Main Title” is the one that starts the recording off with a long eerie chord followed by an equally creepy statement from the brass and then the woodwinds everything in the lower register and one of the quieter parts of the soundtrack. There is a building of hope, a bit of magic before the ominous chords are yet repeated again. Overall a dark beginning to the film score. “Bootleg Left” is from the brass with strong statements of victory over the evil forces. It does sound like it’s a Star Wars statement but definitely in the style of Don Davis. “Ryan and the Tunnel of Temptation” offers Ryan’s theme simply stated from the flute/woodwinds that conveys the innocence of this main character. “Vortex and the Dare” gives us the first reference to the classics in a short motif of “A Night on Bald Mountain,” the first of many passages that are filled with the classical themes. It also appears in “Chained Melody.” These passages are cleverly disguised and not easy to pick up unless you’re quite familiar with the works. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is featured in scenes with Mudlap and is perfect for the character. It is easier to pick up in “The Mudlap Trap.” This work by Dukas, little known for anything else, has been used by the cartoon side of Hollywood for a long time.
The evil character Komodo used a variation of the famous Stravinsky piece The Firebird Suite to musically portray him. He also used a bit of Mussorgsky’s A Night On Bald Mountain.
There is plenty of action track material in such cues as “The Force of Water,” “Tunnel of Blades,” and “Planet of the Roo-Warriors.” There structured style seems to offer loud brass chords that make you want to turn your stereo down but don’t because in the next moment there is a softer passage. Remember the Lee brothers told Davis we want a John Williams type score.
There are plenty of positives for getting this album such as appeal to action scores, full symphonic offerings, and John Williams type music. The 70 plus minute score will be pleasing to your palette with the great melodies, nice color, and excellent orchestrations. Remember this is a limited edition of only 1000 units so take advantage before it sells out.
Total Duration: 01:10:57
June 14, 2014
BSXCD 8944 (2 CD)
Limited Edition of 1500 Units
LOVE THEME BEHOLD HAWAII
A WHALE FOR THE KILLING
When I think of Basil Poledouris (1945-2006) I also think of The Hunt for Red October a favorite of mine as well as Lonesome Dove ( Emmy winner) , and Conan the Barbarian. The list can go on and on with this ‘A’ composer in the 80’s and 90’s, who frequently used the synthesizer and he was partially responsible for me learning to like the instrument. Coming from the Golden Age era this has been a big step in my listening as at one time I would have nothing to do with it at all.
The set features three of his lesser known films Behold Hawaii, Flyers, and A Whale for the Killing, all melodic and quite easy to listen to on the ears. I’m including audio clips from all three to give you an idea of the melodies.
Behold Hawaii (1983) was an IMAX documentary about the big island and the music reflects what you might expect to hear. “Ocean Quest” with its harp glissandos, quiet soft strings, and a peaceful passage from the synthesizer all make for a good track as it builds to a crescendo with the synthesizer offering an organ phrase to end it. If you close your eyes you’ll hear the presence of the surf. “Pristine Hawaii” continues the mood and feelings. Somewhat disturbing is “River Run” begins with a Pino Donaggio chord, a prelude to the Hawaiian drums. “Hula,” the final track, is a lovely theme with flutes giving way to strings and finally the main theme bringing it to a conclusion. Mostly relaxing it nicely represents Hawaii.
There are two tracks reworked from “Conan the Barbarian, one done by Larry Hopkins, a rather subdued “Anvil of Crom” and the other a piano driven arrangement of “The Orgy” from Joohyun Park with vocalizes from Basil’s daughter Zoe. Both are well worth repeated listens.
Flyers (1983) is a short thirty five minute documentary done in IMAX about what else flying. The seven tracks range from soaring melodies to a comedic line, to Star Wars type material. It is an easy listen to score and the twenty plus minutes pass rather quickly. It is definitely the softer side of Basil and material that might fit other situations.
A moody atmosphere begins the soundtrack “A Whale for Killing,” a made for television movie that was nominated for two Emmys starred Peter Strauss and Dee Wallace. It deals with a farfetched idea about a whale that gets caught up in low tide and certain redneck townsfolk want to kill it while others are attempting to save it. The story takes place on the Newfoundland coast and the town of Barris has a definite flavor of the Irish. Listening to tracks “Sailing Into Barris,” “Unloading the Boat,” “Morning in Barris,” “Graduation Ceremony,” and others make you feel like you’re in Cork. When I saw the title “A Whale of a Tale” my thoughts drifted to Kirk Douglas and the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was a very nice version of the main theme which has a catchy melody, one you’ll want to listen to over and over. The vocal to the main theme “A Whale For the Killing” has an unusually long prelude before the male vocalist offers his shanty. I like it.
Three themes (The Blue Lagoon, Big Wednesday, It’s My Party) for solo piano are nicely played in a classical style by BSX house pianist Mark Northam, someone who I’ve grown to feel very comfortable listening to over the years. If you’re not interested in purchasing the set these three would make a fine trio to download.
I understand including Misfits of Science as it is Poledouris but frankly it seems to be out of place on this set as it doesn’t fit the overall theme of the relaxing laid back style.
A Whale For the Killing bonus track is definitely damaged with background noise and was really only included for the Poledouris collector who wishes all of his material.
Total Duration: 01:47:15
July 4th is coming up soon so also look
for additional savings from BSX.
That $19.95 price might just come down a bit.