CARI MOSTRI DEL MARE. (sleeve notes).

Sleeve notes for the Kronos records release, CARI MOSTRI MARE, Available NOW.

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Composer Carlo Savina, was born in Turin, Italy on August 29th, 1919, he became one of the most sought after and busiest composers of film and television music in his native Italy and later became respected and much in demand within the rest of Europe and the United States. As a composer Savina worked on numerous movies and was able to easily adapt his style and creative thoughts to cater for any genre of film, he worked on numerous assignments for the cinema which included, romantic comedies, tales of drama and adventure, westerns and historical period pieces as well as thrillers, horror movies, Police dramas and Roman epics. Because of his unique sound and versatility, the composer was able to bring to each project a lushness and melodic perfection that was his own individual musical fingerprint, and this was a style that not only suited and supported the movies that he worked on, but also was appealing as music that could be listened to away from any of the images it was intended to enhance. Savina, also made a name for himself in the role of conductor and arranger and during his career collaborated with many eminent Maestros who penned soundtracks for motion pictures, his career spanned across both what many collectors and film music buffs refer to as the golden and the silver age of film music, he has acted as musical director to, Philippe Sarde (TESS THE TENANT and THE BEAR), Nino Rota (THE GODFATHER, AMACORD, FELLINI ROMA, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and numerous others), Manuel De Sica (THE GARDEN OF FINZI CONTINI) and most notably Miklos Rozsa on the epic score for BEN HUR. Savina, collaborated with Dr Rozsa many times, and worked on the composer’s epic soundtracks for Hollywood produced Biblically slanted blockbusters that were filmed at Cinecitta in Rome. During the 1960, s, Savina was given the full credit as composer on the motion picture EL CID, this was purely for prints that were released in Italy because of certain contractual issues that existed at the time. Savina’s contribution to the world of cinema has been vast and consistently very good and it is at times hard to come to terms with just how many movies this Maestro has been involved with. He scored numerous Spaghetti westerns either as composer or musical director between 1969 and through to the mid 1980’swhen the genre finally started to fall from grace with cinema audiences.

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One of the westerns that Savina composed for was COMING AT YA (1981) which was a 3D movie and was basically a vehicle for actor Tony Anthony, the composer’s music outshining the storyline, the images and any acting that might have taken place. The score is still revered and respected by many to this day and is held in high esteem by collectors and critics alike. Savina came from a musical background, his Father played first clarinet in the orchestra of EIAR which at the time was the Italian public radio broadcaster.
As a youngster Savina found himself constantly surrounded by music and began to become increasing interested in music composition, which was something that his parents became aware of, so they decided that he should from an early age begin to take lessons on the violin. He went on to study music at the Music Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Turin from where he graduated with diplomas in Violin, Composition, Piano and conducting. In 1945 Savina began to write musical compositions that were utilized for radio in plays and also for background music on other programmes and shows. He then formed his own orchestra and became well known and much in demand. In 1950 the composer began to write music for the cinema and for the next thirty years became one of the most prolific composer conductors involved in movie music. I suppose one could say that Carlo Savina was to Nino Rota what Bruno Nicolai was to Ennio Morricone. Savina often arranging and conducting Rota’s scores and at times writing additional cues for him when he had moved onto another assignment and the film’s producers felt the need for an extra section of film to be scored. Savina also worked with Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovaioli, Stanley Myers, Stephen Sondheim and Mario Nascimbene as arranger or musical director. But there is no doubt whatsoever that Carlo Savina possessed a great talent and was a gifted composer in his own right and during his career worked on over 200 film scores. In 1985 he was the recipient of the David Di Donatello Award for best music, which was for his score to PIZZA CONNECTION. He passed away on June 23rd, 2002.

THE DIRECTOR.

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Bruno Vailati.

An area in which Savina seemed to excel at was the documentary, nowadays I am sure if he were still alive and working would have been very busy writing the scores for the abundance of documentary films that we see on both TV and in the cinema. One such documentary was, CARI MOSTRI DEL MARE or FRIENDLY MONSTERS FROM THE DEEP as it was known outside of Italy which was released in 1977. Directed by, Oceanographer and filmmaker Bruno Vailati who also wrote the screenplay. Vailati, was born on September 2nd, 1919 in Alexandria, Egypt and had a passion for creating these type of documentary movies he was a fearless and adventurous filmmaker who would dive into treacherous waters and explore unchartered seas to bring us rare footage, he worked on many documentaries all of which have garnered a lot of interest. His work as a film producer and writer ranged from 13 one-hour long undersea documentaries titled “Encyclopedia of the Sea,” (which I suppose one can compare to the work of French filmmaker and explorer Jacques Cousteau) to the Italian sword and sandal epic “HERCULES UNCHAINED,”
After graduating from law school at the University of Bologna, Vailati mounted his first film expedition. He travelled to the Red Sea and produced some of the earliest, and at that time the highest quality underwater film footage ever shot. This footage eventually became “The Blue Continent.” Vailati, became known and highly respected as the years rolled forward for his passion and enthusiasm when it came to marine photography. His films, which were made in the main for Italian production companies and sponsors, as well as his own film company, were then sold onto other TV channels and companies and shown throughout the world on public and private TV stations.
In 1954, his “The Blue Continent” was one of two Italian entries at the Venice Film Festival; the other was Federico Fellini’s “La Strada.” As his career progressed the filmmaker, made documentaries in all the worlds seas, and in Italy his movies often attracted more viewers than the so called popular and successful shows on TV. Away from Marine photography and documentaries he worked on, THE GIANT OF MARATHON, THE GOLDEN ARROW, TORPEDO BAY, the aforementioned HERCULES UNCHAINED and a remake of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD in the early 1960’s. In 1971, Vailati collaborated with fellow filmmaker David L Wolper for a series entitled MEN OF THE SEA, the six-part series of 1-hour documentaries included an episode ANDREA DORIA MINUS 40, which charted Vailati’s exploration of the wreck of an Italian steamship which sank in 1956.
Vailati, passed away in Rome, on February 26th, 1990 after a long battle with cancer, he was 70.

© 2019 John Mansell. Movie Music International.

LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS.(sleeve notes for the Kronos CD release, Dec 2019).

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By John Mansell. ©2019. Movie music international.

 

Christmas, ah yes. Tis the season of good will, cheer, warmth and of a peaceful and contented feeling throughout the world, or so we are told. But Christmas can also be a time for tales of witchery, mystery, monsters and ghosts. A Christmas Carol being the obvious go to tale of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but also ending with a wonderfully heart-warming message. Lilly’s hometown prepares for the festive celebrations, and all things Christmas are uppermost in the hearts and minds of everyone, (but are these the right thoughts?) Until that is Lilly accidently summons Rupert who is said to be a companion of Saint Nicolaus. In a modern-day environment Rupert begins to feel uncomfortable and is filled with anger and disappointment when he sees what he thinks are unnecessary material things that are everywhere and are linked with the so-called festive season. In his rage he decides that he will teach the people of Lilly’s town the true meaning of the festive season and install within them respect and good manners. Anne-Kathrin Dern became involved with the film LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS via her on-going collaboration with composer, Klaus Badelt with whom she had been working alongside on various projects for a few years. Badelt, had created the scores for the first two instalments of the movie series and introduced her to the production team who were working on the third. She recorded the score in Belgium in the summer months of 2017, with the music being performed by members of the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra under the baton of conductor Matt Dunkley. Badelt provided the main theme for the movie, (Evil, Can Create Evil) which was a feature of his previous scores. Dern’s score will enthral, enrich and delight, and is one that has so many vibrant musical colours and textures. There is a creative and innovative style present throughout the work, with an inventive and imaginative use of both strings and choir that combine to fashion a magical and ethereal sounding work, which is perfect for a movie that is set during the festive season. It is also a work that is literally dripping with melodious and richly thematic pieces, but also has to it a certain amount of quirkiness and a mischievous quality which underlines and emphasises the more jovial and lighter moments of the film, this quirky style glimmers within and through the main fabric of the score adding another dimension to the movie and also bringing a mysterious and magical musical persona to the soundtrack.

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There are a handful of styles present within the score, one of which can be likened to that of Danny Elfman in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, with touches of John Williams in HOME ALONE mode and little strokes of James Horner as in CASPER, which I think cannot be a negative in any way. There is an impish and devilish aura that weaves in and out of the musical proceedings, and at times this evokes a sweeping, otherworldly and urgently rich style employed by composers such as John Debney in scores such as HOCUS POCUS and again John Williams in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. A melancholy and romantic style also begins to make its presence felt as the score progress’s and develops, which at times is interrupted by an adventurous near swashbuckler of a theme as in shades of PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN. One thing is certain there is no shortage of sparkling, mysterious, dramatic, luscious and magical thematic properties here. The soundtrack has to it an intimate side too which can be fragile, delicate and childlike, the tantalising score is filled with an appeal which is haunting as well as charming and it oozes character and quality.
John Mansell. (c) 2019.

“Having grown up during the 90s with Alan Menken’s music for the Disney animations, I’ve always known that music and movies were my passion, but I decided at around age 12 that I wanted to pursue it professionally. I had been playing various instruments and got theory lessons, but it wasn’t until I heard John Williams’ score for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” that I began to research the profession of a film composer. That same year, just a month later, Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” came out and by that time I was completely taken by the idea of writing music for movies. It seemed like an unlikely thing to do at the time, with the film industry being on the other side of the world and without the internet as a resource completely out of reach as well. But I simply continued to study scores on my own, hoping that everything would fall into place eventually”.
Anne-Kathrin Dern. (c) 2018 MMI.

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THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES or in English- MONTE CARLO OR BUST.

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Composer Ron Goodwin is probably best known for his themes and scores to war movies such as 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and BATTLE OF BRITAIN. But of course, we as collectors know that there is far more to Goodwin than thundering themes that are inspiring and patriotically driving. His score for THE TRAP for example is I think a most underatted soundtrack, in fact Goodwin’s music has outlived any memories of the movie itself and also the theme found a new lease of life when TV producers procured it to use as the theme for the London Marathon. Then there was his brilliant score for VALHALLA which sadly was to be his last, and let us not forget, ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING for Disney as well as CANDLESHOE for the same studio. Then there were all those excellent compilations on long playing records released by EMI, which at the time of their release gave film music fans versions of the composer’s music for film as well as music by many others which was given the famous Goodwin treatment. His quirky style and split-second musical timing was most certainly well suited to the British comedy THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES with both the score and the song becoming instant hits, a popularity that has lasted to this day I might add. After the success of THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN etc, we were treated to another magnificently well written and highly entertaining score, when the composer once again teamed up with film maker Ken Annakin on the British/Italian co-production MONTE CARLO OR BUST or as it was entitled in the United States THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES. Goodwin created a wonderfully inventive score for the movie and penned several original themes which would accompany various characters that were involve in the hi-jinks that was taking place on screen. The cast list read like a who’s who of British and international cinema. Goodwin’s atmospheric and hilarious at times soundtrack, has become a classic of sorts in the film music collecting community. The music was originally released in 1969/1970 on a LP which was on the Paramount records label. This at the time was quite a long running LP as it contained some forty-two minutes of music. Sadly, the score was never re-issued and was never given a compact disc release, until now that is. Yes, those lovely people at Quartet records have at last made many of Ron’s faithful fans dreams come true, with an extensive and expanded release on CD, a two-disc set as well.

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Yes, not one but two compact discs, the first containing the soundtrack as we have come to know and love which is the LP record tracks, and disc two, which is the icing on the proverbial cake, all together there are sixty one cues on this set, alternate takes and outtakes galore it is certainly Ron Goodwin heaven for many. So how to review something that is already considered a classic, now that’s a difficult one, we already know that the score is practically perfect in every way (sorry wrong movie, but it sounds good). THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES or as I like to call it MONTE CARLO OR BUST is an onslaught of cleverly orchestrated and quirky comedic pieces which Goodwin weaved in and out of the movie to enhance and give support to key points and scenarios, it is without a doubt one of his most accomplished and entertaining soundtracks, with cheeky little nuances, dastardly and mischievous passages along side stiff upper lip musical moments that accompanied the characters superbly portrayed by Messer’s Moore and Cooke, Goodwin even throwing in a nice little arrangement of JINGLE BELLS when aforementioned du found themselves driving on ice or in snow.

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We are also spoilt for thematic diversity and vibrancy, when the composer brings into play a German march and a wonderfully light and airy Italian sounding piece. There are so many themeatic moments within this score that it is difficult to explain just how many and in what context that they are utilised. Goodwin’s score is a truly international sounding work, and also contains a luxurious and rich love theme which accompanies Tony Curtis and the films female love interest Susan Hampshire. The movie itself was madcap but entertaining and was even more compelling because of Goodwin’s strategically placed musical score, with its Charleston type backing and oom-pah-pah moments and over the top keystone drama it is I think one of his best.

 

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The song from the movie, entitled MONTE CARLO OR BUST was performed by veteran star Jimmy Durante, whose gravelly sounding vocals were just perfect, it achieved success on its own away from the movie as any radio stations included it on their playlists. This double CD set is a sight for sore eyes and a welcome listening experience which evoked memories of when I first heard the LP record back in 1969/70 The CD boasts the original United States LP record cover art and the colourful booklet contains notes by Jeff Bond and the recording is presented with clean and sharp flawless sound thanks to precision re-mastering work by Chris Malone which as always is excellent. This is a release you will not want to miss order it now, send it from you to you for Christmas. Recommended.  While your on line buying this one from quartet why not treat yourself to the expanded version of THE ITALIAN JOB also released on that label.

Those Daring Young Men in their Jaunty Jalopies (2-CD)

The Italian Job

 

 

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A HIDDEN LIFE.

 

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Its an odd thing that at times you hear the latest score from a composer and you think, That’s his best yet, then the next release surpasses it, James Newton Howard is a composer I have followed from RUSSKIES onwards, and I have to say I think this every time I hear one of his soundtracks, one of his recent scores is for Terrence Malick’s A HIDDEN LIFE, and again the composer has created a work that is reflective, tranquil, emotive and affecting and one which underlines, punctuates and enhances perfectly. The story line is too a touching and thought-provoking piece which focuses upon the relationship between a husband and wife in small village in Austria during WWll, the husband being a conscientious objector. It’s a tale of love and morality, The composer has fashioned a beautiful score, which is laden with poignant and highly emotional compositions, the music is an important component of the story and the scenarios that are being acted out on screen, Newton Howard piecing together gentle and melodic nuances that are delicate and purvey a sense of fragility and melancholy, the heart breaking themes that run throughout the score are haunting and at times total consuming and mesmerising. Newton Howard is a composer of many colours musically and also, he has the ability to adapt to any genre of film giving each project a lasting and vibrant sound or musical personality. His score for A HIDDEN LIFE is I would say up ther with his best, it lays bare the emotional content of the story and underlines the dramatic content and also laces the romantic interludes wonderfully, this is a soundtrack that you will probably shed a tear or two over, its highly emotional content will sweep over you and infiltrate your mind, body and soul, tug at your heart strings and tantalise your senses. The low-key sound is appealing and although at times is sorrowful via the cello performances and also solo violin, and string section, it still has to it a shining and glinting aura, the music speaks of hope and also of loyalty and love. Certainly, one to check out.

LORD OF THE RINGS- A PERSONAL VIEW.

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I have to admit to never fully reading the tome that is LORD OF THE RINGS, I know it is something that needs to be done at some stage, but I suppose I either lacked the concentration or maybe did not realy understand it fully, so seeing the movies for me was the next best thing. After seeing the first in the series, I was left rather cold and even more bemused, why end it here, what happens next and it was at this stage I thought read the book, but again no time and everything got in the way, so eventually I started it again and after a few hours that was it something distracted me. So, when the next movie was released, I was so pleased, and after seeing the animated version I was grateful that Peter Jackson had stepped up and made these live action versions of the famous story about Hobbits, Heroes, Wizards and Orcs. First to the animated film, well, not exactly a runaway success was it, the animation I felt was lacking, and the way in which the story was diluted and condensed down was also rather disappointing.

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But this was all down to a limited budget, the producers being restricted because of the lack of it, the film had its high points and more interesting sections where the animation did look amazing, but, and remember this is just a personal opinion, I always felt a little let down by the movie, at the time they said it was made as an animated feature because they could not afford to make the story or stories as live action pictures, of course a lot of things have changed and we have the advanced technology to make it seem as if we are seeing tens of thousands of Orcs on screen, but back in the period when the animated version of Lord of the Rings was produced these techniques were unheard of or at least in their infancy. Turning to the score for the animated movie by Hollywood composer Leonard Rosenman, well, apart from the central theme or the stirring march theme, I felt this too was feeble, the composer not really taking on board the storyline and scoring the production with at times music that was ill fitting or just tracked to certain scenes. I remember getting the LP record of the score, and later the CD but why I got the CD I am not entirely sure as it was a soundtrack I very rarely played if ever.

 

 

The Peter Jackson trilogy was so far removed musically even though when I heard Howard Shore was to be the composer, I had some doubts. But, the proof of the pudding as they say, and yes, I certainly had my fill of Shore’s proud and romantic sounding scores, the composer creating dark and fearsome themes and sounds to accompany and underline the story of Frodo and Sam the brave Hobbits, evil Orcs, fearless Wizards that are fighting for both good and evil and Heroes in the form of men and Elves who unite to fight the evil tide that is sweeping the land. Shore created a whole new sound and style to enhance and support the storylines and their many characters and scenarios. The music mirrored the darkness and light that was present within the movies and had to it an otherworldly aura and persona that was thick with the mysterious, the magical, the foreboding and fearful and the romantic. The composers work on the trilogy and to a degree the following HOBBIT tales, was as important and influential as the music John Williams composed for the STAR WARS series of movies, and as innovative as the works of Morricone and his like.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS and THE RETURN OF THE KING all contained complex yet at the same time simple scores, filled to overflowing with a wonderful power and a brilliant thematic core on which the composer built his score, and with each successive score we heard his themes and inventiveness grow and multiply. The songs such as MAY IT BE performed by Enya, are enthralling, entrancing and beguiling.

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home
Mornie utulie

Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantie
A promise lives within you now
May it be the shadow’s call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun
Mornie utulie (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantie (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now
A promise lives within you now


With cues such as GOLLUMS SONG being expressive, affecting and haunting, the Icelandic vocalist Emiliana Torrini bringing a certain ghostly sound to the piece. The lyrics being particularly effective with Shore’s mystical strings introducing and accompanying them.

 

Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more
Don’t say – goodbye
Don’t say – I didn’t try…
These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies
You told us
The hurt, the blame
And we will weep
To be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home
So in the end
I will be what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me
Now we say – goodbye
We say – you didn’t try…
These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame
And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost
You can never go home
You are lost
You can never go home

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The action pieces for the great battles such as THE RIDERS OF ROHAN and THE SHIELDMAIDEN OF ROHAN are nail bitingly entertaining and get the watching audience to the edge of their seats as Shore adds another dimension to the proceedings and ingratiates and underlines each scene adding layers of tension, drama and fearfulness via pounding percussion, imposing choral work and rasping brass and swirling strings.

 

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Then there is the LIGHTING OF THE BEACONS which is a commanding and powerful piece that builds and races as the fires are lit throughout the Kingdom calling all forces together to face one common enemy. To say that Shore’s scores for the trio of movies are monumental is an understatement, because it is grandiose, gigantic and totally consuming. Shore’s music for the trilogy of movies is a powerhouse collection of themes, that are hauntingly effective and also have to them the sinister, relentless, fearful and at times charming personalities that we associate with the Lord of the Rings stories, each film contains core themes that the composer fashioned for central characters at the outset and he has in later productions as in the two sequels developed these and expanded their musical content, by either adding nuances and making extensions to them or arranging the already established and familiar thematic content. His artistry and Masterful handiwork shines through and although at times these changes or arrangements are subtle the music is still an integral and of paramount importance to the action being acted out on screen. At times the music we are aware is present, but it never seems to get in the way of the scene or dialogue, instead it enhances these elements and brings them to the forefront and emphasises the situations, giving them even more depth and stature.

 

Shore opens the first score with the piece entitled THE PROPHECY, a slow and initially quiet opening, but the composition soon builds into something that is rather more grand with choir and brass being pushed along by strings and supported by percussion, until it reaches its foreboding and in a way tormented crescendo. Shore then, alters direction, and utilises a softer approach, strings again are centre stage, as we hear the wistful and slightly apprehensive theme take shape, with Shore adding solo trumpet as the cue evaporates and eventually closes.

 

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Track number two, CONCERNING HOBBITS is a homely and quirky Gaelic infused composition for flute and fiddle, with underlying strings which enhance it further and add to it a delicate air of sophistication and lushness. It is in cue number three that we first hear the first hints and flourishes of menace, THE SHADOW OF THE PAST is at first brooding and ominously shadowy in a subdued way. But, it soon builds into a commanding and fearful sounding piece, with the composer utilising pounding percussion and growling brass that is at times overpowered by choir, there are also swirling and sinister and icy strings present, and when Shore fuses all of these elements together it is an intimidating and raw sound that we hear. The composer conjuring up an atmosphere that is thick with virulence and rich with a sense of danger.

 


THE TREASON OF ISENGARD is another cue that displays moments of light and darkness, Shore employing low strings and booming brass that is underlined by both strings and percussion, the composer then introduces the commanding sound of voices, which are given support by an array of symphonic richness, percussion again working overtime to embellish and enhance. The same can be said for the cue, THE BLACK RIDER Shore’s music purveying a real sense of fear and chaos which is totally unnerving and absorbing. AT THE SIGN OF THE PRANCING PONY is one of the more prominent cues for me but saying this the scores are wonderfully compelling and affecting. AT THE SIGN OF THE PRANCING PONY, is a fusion of all we have heard before, the composer compiling elements of the other cues into one grandiose and potent piece, which involves all sections of the orchestra, including choir, which has to it a celestial but at the same moment a satanic sound.

 

 

A KNIFE IN THE DARK is next in the running order, Shore pulling out all the stops to create a lumbering and crashing composition that is filled with dread and is relentless in its persona.

 

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Mid-way through however the chaos and formidable sounds cease and these give way to a lighter and more serene sound, initially introduced by strings and woodwind, we hear above everything a pure and spiritual boy soprano, which in the movie and also whilst listening away from any images causes one to stop and focus even more intently. It is one of those rare moments in film when the music says everything, there is no need for words or any earth-shattering events, it is the score relating to the gazing audience the beauty of music and image working as one. I think my own personal favourite is the score for THE TWO TOWERS, I cannot really say why I just prefer this score to the other two but saying this I must also say that all three are excellent examples of film scoring. THE RETURN OF THE KING is probably the most complex, with THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING coming in third, Howard Shore is we all know an accomplished and highly respected composer, An innovative Maestro, who’s ability to create and realise music for any situation and any genre of film is well known. Maybe now re-visit the films in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and whilst there have a listen to the scores too.

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