July 21, 2013
William Kraft will be remembered chiefly as a percussionist/timpanist, having served in this role for 25 years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is also a conductor, teacher, classical and film composer. He has been commissioned to do work for some of the major symphonies of the world, won numerous awards, and summing it up he has devoted his life to music.
Fire and Ice was an animated film taking place in ancient past times and telling a story of Nekron and his mother who want to conquer the world but are thwarted by Larn and Teegra. Animated by Ralph Bakshi it is considered to be one of the highlights of his career.
Fire and Ice was one of a handful of films that he composed and conducted being presented here by BSX for the first time 30 years after its release. Orchestrated by Angela “Watership Down” Morley the 70 minute score was performed by an 80 piece ensemble and is a nonstop rollercoaster of emotions that begins with the very first track. When Kraft listened to the temp tracks which consisted of “Night on the Bald Mountain” and “The Rite of Spring” and suggested that his film was even more primitive and suggested a piece by Prokofiev “Scythian Suite” Quite a statement considering the Stravinsky work. The bright upbeat beginning featuring tinkling percussion is quickly joined by a statement of the “Dies Irae” (day of wrath) performed by the lower register string section both of which give way to the main theme a majestic theme played by both brass and strings. This is a theme that will be repeated in the score representing good over evil. “Prologue” begins with a long string note played behind the soulful oboe. “The Subhumans Appear” introduces a dissonant “Dies Irae” theme with a tuba offering a melody against distorted brass. “Nekron” continues with the tuba theme as well as eerie string chords. It is an 8 note motif that you’ll hear throughout the score. Larn’s theme is first introduced by the horns and is an upbeat one depicting the hero of the picture. If there is a romantic cue then it has to be “Larn and Teegra” with soft woodwinds and uplifting flutes with background coming from the strings which alternates the melody with the woodwinds. “Larn Escapes/Darkwolf Appears” gives you both the Larn theme as well as a variation of the Darkwolf theme. “Flight of the Dragonhawks/The End of Nekron/ Reunited” is a climatic ending to the score and at 10 minutes is the longest of the tracks. You’ll revisit “Dies Irae,” Nekron, Darkwolf, and all of the themes from the film. Included are some strong percussion bars, the forte of William Kraft which I think is directly responsible for all of his years with the LA Philharmonic as the chief timpanist.
Fire and Ice is an important release even though it took thirty years to become available. Since Kraft is poorly represented and is a force in 20th century modern classical music it is one to have in your collection. It is a combination of classical and movie music and I think you’ll be surprised at what you hear after a couple of listens. Recommended.
Total Duration: 01:09:28