To say that this score is a bit of fun or an entertaining collection of musical themes, is a slight understatement, and also maybe a little disrespectful to the composer. THE 25TH REICH, is a score that encompasses a number of film music genres, and within its many thematic properties it pays homage to a handful of war film themes and also its fair share of themes and sounds that have up until now been associated with sci-fi movies either from way back in the 1950,s or the more up to date examples as in STAR WARS and the new STAR TREK etc. Composer Ricky Edwards has written a solid sounding soundtrack and has also arranged and orchestrated it wonderfully, giving it an almost epic sound and atmosphere. The opening track,THE 25TH REICH MARCH, is something straight out of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with full blooded martial sounding drums enhanced by strident strings which both act as a background to ominous and forceful sounding brass flourishes which in turn are bolstered by flyaway sounding woods and percussion, and that electric saw or Theremin sound which relays perfectly an atmosphere of the unworldly. This is a commanding and powerful piece that not only opens the compact disc but becomes a foundation to the remainder of the soundtrack and sets the musical scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. The score also contains some Herrmanesque sounding motifs and passages, strings and jagged brass bouncing off each other to create a sublime sense of unease and foreboding that is tinged with urgency. This I think can be heard more prominently in THAT AI’NT NO PANTHER. In fact overall the score contains numerous nods in the direction of composers such as, Bernstein, Goldsmith, Williams, Barry and in certain areas maybe touches of Irwin Gertz or Herman Stein are interwoven into the work evoking the vintage horror sci-fi flicks that were produced daily in the 1940,s through to the 1950,s. I found that the marches or variations upon the central theme of the march were particularly entertaining, rat a tat timpani and proud but rather ominous sounding brass punctuation and swirling and vibrant strings all go to make up a rewarding and enriching listen. The score provides the movie with an unrelenting and energetic backdrop and is for me a score that is written in the style of good old fashion film music, when marches were obligatory in war movies and weird sounds and noises provided the chill factor in sci-fi and horror films, Composer Edwards has certainly worked his magic with this score and hopefully we will hear more of him as a composer as opposed to him working as an orchestrator. Most certainly worth a listen. Great art work and as always presented well by Movie score Media and their new collaborator Kronos. This is STAR WARS meets THE GREAT ESCAPE head on.
Monthly Archives: August 2013
MARIO LANZA-THE TOAST OF HOLLYWOOD.
I suppose when I think about it, it probably was not the music of Maurice Jarre that was the first actual film music that I heard as a child, but the voice of Mario Lanza. I say this because I remember the collection of 78rpm discs that my Father had in the highly polished dark wood radio-gram that stood in the corner of the living room. I especially recall a couple of discs with songs from THE STUDENT PRINCE on them and these were always favourites of mine when they were played most Sunday mornings, plus songs by Frankie Laine. But it was Mario Lanza that I remember best his voice I thought was rich and full and also had such power but also possessed warmth and an attraction that just made one feel as if all was well and safe. SERENADE again from the STUDENT PRINCE was I think the song I most associate with the singer and it was this that was also the most played in our household. I also then remember seeing the movie and being told by my Father Lanza was not in the film, they just dubbed his voice onto the soundtrack, which at the age of 6 or 7 did not make a lot of sense but all I knew was I liked the voice and the movie was pretty good too. This collection of evergreen songs has been put together by Sony Masterworks and Turner Classic Movies. MARIO LANZA–THE TOAST OF HOLLYWOOD, is spread over two discs, the first being entitled A TENOR AT THE MOVIES and the second going under the heading of A TENOR IN LOVE. The compilation features some of Lanza’s most iconic and memorable songs which are taken from the movies, THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME, THE GREAT CARUSO, FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE STUDENT PRINCE, BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE and THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS to mention just a few. Although the tenor had a successful career and also certainly lived life to the maximum, he died early at the age of just 38. Compact disc one, includes many of the songs that the singer made popular and are taken from the soundtracks to the entertaining MGM musicals that he was involved with. These include the timeless classic, BE MY LOVE, taken from the soundtrack of THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS. Penned by Nicholas Brodzsky and Sammy Cahn, this beautiful song became Lanza’s signature tune. The collection also includes a commanding performance of the dramatic and highly charged GRANADA, which is one of the stand out moments from BECAUSE YOUR MINE. Amongst the Hollywood hits are operatic arias and performances which include LA DONNE E MOBILE from RIGOLETTO, LIBIAMO NE’LIETI CALCI from LA TRAVIATA and CHE GELIDA MANINA from LA BOHEME. Compact disc two is brimming to overflowing with songs per amore, all of which were especially recorded for the MARIO LANZA radio show, which was broadcast during 1951 and through into 1952. The compilation also features a number of tracks that are introduced by the singer and also has a handful of songs that have not been previously released.
Such as DAY IN DAY OUT, I, LL NEVER LOVE YOU; I LOVE THEE, LOLITA and A VUCCHELLA. The collection includes songs written by some of the most influential composers and lyricist and Lanza puts his imitable stamp upon songs such as, THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE, IF I LOVED YOU, YOU,LL NEVER WALK ALONE and MAKE BELIEVE.
This is in my opinion a wonderful collection of 30 tracks from a tenor who died too young and also singer that made classics popular and made each and every lyric that he performed special and memorable. TCM will celebrate the voice of Mario Lanza later this year when they screen, five movies on Wednesday September 18th. These will be, commencing at 8pm. THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME, at 10pm,FOR THE FIRST TIME, at midnight, THE GREAT CARUSO, at 2 am THE STUDENT PRINCE and at 4am, BECAUSE YOUR MINE. So set the recorder and enjoy.
Michel Legrand, is one of the worlds foremost and respected performers and composers, his ability to please listeners with his jazz performances and compositions and also his work for film has kept him within public gaze for over 4 decades. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, was Legrand,s third major film score and followed hot on the heels of THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR(1968) AND ICE STATION ZEBRA also from that year. It is sometimes surprising to think that these three assignments are all from the same composer as each one employs differing styles and sounds, THOMAS CROWN, utilizing jazz influenced musical colours, ZEBRA employing a more dramatic and grandiose epic sound, and HEIGHTS being a lush and lyrical work full of romantic and heartrending tone poems which are played alongside and intermingled with musical passages and motifs that are pure operatic creating an atmosphere of windswept tragedy. Legrand.s fully symphonic work is one that will please any connoisseur of fine film music, his use of strings combined with piano and also at times subdued but melodic woods and harpsichord is hauntingly effective, this is demonstrated most effectively within track number 8, CATHY,S THEME, which is a piece straight out of the text book of romantic film scoring, the cue opens with flute underlined by soothing strings, muted horn and piano this introduction builds and leads into a lush and emotive rendition of the scores central theme performed by strings that are augmented and enhanced by trickling piano and wistful woodwind, which in turn also take on a solo role within the cue as well as a brief but poignant violin solo performance. The elements here combine to create a track that is full of not only emotion but creates a dramatic atmosphere that swells to a peak and then melts away just as quickly leaving the track to be brought to an end by woods underlined by slightly uneasy sounding strings. In many ways this score has affiliations with the style of Legrand’s fellow countryman Georges Delerue, the subtle but effective utilization of woods underlined by strings and flourishes from harpsichord can be heard throughout the work, I think it is the fragility of the sound achieved by Legrand that is part of this works success and attraction, each cue from the score contains either a delicate air of romanticism or a dramatic and at times energetic pulsating array of percussion and urgent sounding instrumentation.
The opening track I WAS BORN IN LOVE WITH YOU, is the scores central theme, and this can e heard at various stages of the proceedings in a number of musical arrangements and varying instrumentation, this first outing for the theme is a fairly subdued one, woods and strings combine to carry Legrand’s haunting theme and give it a full if low key rendition. Track number 2, THE YORKSHIRE MOORS, at first sounds a little out of place in comparison to the remainder of the score, it has the atmosphere and style of minor track from a western when it begins rather than being from a period classic such as WUTHERING HEIGHTS, guitar and woodwind play alternately and then combine briefly as woods and also harpsichord take on a variation of the central theme. This is an excellent soundtrack and a perfect example of Legrand in romantic mode, sweeping and surging string passages and highly dramatic compositions rule here, the composer painting a musical picture of the mystical moors that act as the stories backdrop and the tragic but tender and undying love between Heathcliff and Cathy, with plaintive and emotive nuances. Sound quality is fairly good but I did detect a little distortion on a few of the cues, but this did not impair or spoil my listening experience of this fine Legrand soundtrack, as always the release is packaged and presented to La La Lands normal high standards. One to add to the collection.
MORTAL INSTRUMENTS-CITY OF BONES.
Set in modern day New York, MORTAL INSTRUMENTS tells the story of a seemingly ever day teenager Clary Fray, played by British actress Lily Collins (THE BLIND SIDE, MIRROR MIRROR and PRIEST). After Clary discovers her Mother has been abducted by a demon she joins forces with a band of shadow hunters and finds out that she is descended from a line of these shadow hunters which are young half angels who are locked in a deadly battle against the forces of evil and are protecting the world from demons and other creatures of darkness. Clary’s newly found allies introduce her to a dangerous and very different world in the form of DOWNWORLD which is filled with, vampires, werewolves, demons, warlocks and their like. The movie is based on the best selling book series by Cassandra Clare. This is the first of what we hope will be many films from the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, in fact the second movie is already in pre-production.
MORTAL INSTRUMENTS-CITY OF BONES opens in cinemas soon and the soundtrack album is released on Milan records on August 20th, the musical score is by one of film music’s rising stars Atli Örvarsson who’s music has aided greatly films such as THE FOURTH KIND, BABYLON AD, VANTAGE POINT, SEASON OF THE WITCH and more recently HANZEL AND GRETEL-WITCH HUNTERS. Örvarsson,s score for MORTAL INSTRUMENTS is a driving and epic tour de force that was written for 90 piece orchestra and choir, it posses a lushness and power that can be likened to film scores from bygone days, but also has to it a sound that is pulsating, vibrant and contemporary. The composer utilizes to great effect a sweeping string section, which is supported by brass stabs and an equal amount of brass flourishes that relay dark and light, plus there are pounding and vibrant percussive elements, which further enhance the work and these are embellished by the use of a scattering of synthetics which push the compositions forward at break neck speed within certain areas of the score. The work however does have its more subtle and poignant side and includes plaintive solo piano that relays touches of melancholy and feelings of solitude at times, which the composer then builds upon and elevates these thematic properties to full blown crescendos that are stunning and breathtaking. Although this is most certainly an action led soundtrack, it also has within its perimeters a real richness of sound that oozes romanticism, and it is I think this underlying romantic and lushness that acts as a foundation to the remainder of the score.
The choral work on the score is also outstanding, at times I have to say it verges on the Elfman-esque in its sound but this is not a derogatory remark or observation, as the choir acquit themselves wonderfully and the inclusion of choir brings a whole other dimension to the work giving it even more emotion and depth plus adding to the mix an atmosphere that is grandiose and at the same time humbling and beguiling. The composer also at times utilizes a solo female voice which is highly effective and mesmerising. The compact disc opens, quietly in the first instance as we are ushered into CLARY’S THEME, as the composition progresses it alters in mood and atmosphere its six note motif theme changing from a mysterious and quite subtle sounding piece into a full and rich sounding cue that is performed by strings, choir and percussion with brass underlining the proceedings as it builds, it then melts away into a melodic piano solo, this itself is short lived but certainly makes an impression, the string section come back into play accompanied by choir and horns bringing the track to its conclusion in a glorious sounding crescendo. The softer side to the score is I think heard for the first time in track number 3, YOUR SECRET IS SAFE, solo piano underlined by strings are joined by a female solo voice, the subtle theme that they create is then taken on by strings and choir, it gains momentum and swells to an emotive and heartrending apex, the cue then falls back into solo piano that is touchingly beautiful and takes the cue to its conclusion. I am not going to do a track by track analysis as I feel this is a score that one should discover one’s self, all I do know is I enjoyed it immensely and have returned to it a number of times in the past three days, for me MORTAL INSTRUMENTS-CITY OF BONES is the best soundtrack released thus far this year, and I am also of the opinion it will take a lot to beat it.
Available on Milan records August 20th 2013.
Franz Reizenstein was born in Nuremberg on June 7th 1911, his father was a doctor and also an excellent amateur pianist, his elder sister was an artist and his elder brother played the violin. Reizenstein’s Mother was also very musical and was astonished when her two year old son could sing back any of the songs that she had just sung to him in perfect pitch and time. At the age of just four Franz began to teach himself to play the piano, and it was also at this time that he begun to compose short pieces of music. When Franz was a teenager the sudden death of his father inspired him to compose a piece in his memory. At 17, Reizenstein decided to study composition under Paul Hindemith in Berlin. Despite opposition from his uncle he eventually went to Berlin in 1930. As the thirties progressed the Jewish Reizenstein relocated to the Royal College of Music in London, where he continued to study composition under Vaughn Williams and also continued his piano studies under Solomon. Reizenstein never returned to Germany, instead he adopted British nationality and remained in London until his untimely death at the age of 57. He left a wife, Margaret, and also a son John.
Although Reizenstein was thought of as a serious musician and composer, by this I mean he composed mostly for concert hall performance. He did make a number of forays into the world of film music, most notably the composer worked on Hammer films production of THE MUMMY in 1959 which was the composer’s film music debut. His score is sweeping and dramatic but also remains romantic and melodically lush and lavish. The central theme that he wrote for the movie doubles as a love theme of sorts and depicts THE MUMMY’S (Kharis) centuries old obsession for Princess Ananka. Reizenstein, reprised the principal theme throughout his score and it is performed in a number of variations and arrangements an assortment of instrumentation. Although the central theme is essentially the heart of Reizenstein’s score, the composer also created secondary and other minor themes for the soundtrack which are just as important and integral to the movie and the story that is unfolding upon the screen. The images of the Mummy frantically smashing its way into Peter Cushing’s character John Banning’s library and study is underlined and accompanied by rasping brass, which blares out over driving and urgent sounding strings that are themselves supported and punctuated by a chaotic sounding Xylophone. This exciting composition stops abruptly as Banning’s wife Isobel enters the room, Kharis see’s her and believes her to be he lost love Ananka,
The Mummy ceases his attack on Banning and beats a retreat out of the house and into the night. The sense of excitement and atmosphere of Kharis’s ferocious attack on Banning is assisted greatly by Reizenstein’s highly volatile and vibrant musical score. The movies climatic scene is another example of how much the score aided the impact of the images and just how images and music can and should work in film as one. Kharis returns to Banning’s house, this time the evil Mummy is intent on killing him, things however do not go to plan and Kharis abducts Isobel, Pursued by the Police, villagers and Banning, Kharis is chased into a swamp. Booming percussion racing timpani and short brass stabs underline the scene. When Kharis is shot down Reizenstein’s urgent timpani begins to slow as if to be the heartbeat of the Mummy, and as the creature disappears below the swamp Reizenstein’s musical accompaniment fades and eventually stops. Reizenstein was at the top of his musical game when Hammer asked him to write the score for THE MUMMY, His music was quite unique and the composer placed his stylish and original musical fingerprint upon the production, the idiom of his music being unmistakably 20th Century but not avant-garde.
Many composers in the first half of the century became beguiled with the twelve tones series system, but Reizenstein found that the strict system cramped his natural style and he never cared for the tight intellectual music it produced. Reizenstein’s music flows naturally from melodic ideas and harmonies with which the listener can easily identify. He composed concertos for piano, violin and cello with orchestras, and two large-scale choral works, VOICES OF NIGHT and GENESIS. The latter was commissioned for the Three Choirs Festival of 1958, which was held at Hereford Cathedral. The success of VOICES OF THE NIGHT led the BBC to commission him to write the first opera for radio, entitled ANNA KRAUS. It was the British entry for the prestigious Italia Prize. Reizenstein also composed music for a number of documentary films, and provided incidental music for a number of BBC productions.
Shortly after completing his score for THE MUMMY, he wrote the music for Sydney Hayers shocker CIRCUS OF HORRORS (1959). As a composer Reizenstein was versatile and this became even more evident when Gerard Hoffnung asked him to write two works for the Hoffnung Concerts. At first Reizenstein was reluctant and refused, he argued that he was a serious composer who would be reluctant to let his hair down at the Royal Festival Hall, Hoffnung persevered, however and Reizenstein contributed the witty CONCERTO POPOLARE or (the piano concerto to end all piano concerto’s)and the hilarious LETS FAKE AN OPERA.