SONO STATO UN AGENTE CIA.

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This intelligent and absorbing drama was released in 1978, and starred the ever popular American actor David Janssen. Of course, Mr Janssen had been so well thought of and extremely popular via his TV roles in such series as THE FUGITIVE, O’HARA UNITED STATES TREASURY and RICHARD DIAMOND, all of which were top shows on American TV and also did well when sold to other countries. Janssen began his acting career back in 1945 and did make a number of what can be deemed as good movies, but it was television that was to really bring the actor’s talents to the public at large and by the early to mid 1960s, Janssen was well established as an actor of much worth. Unfortunately the actor’s life was to be cut short by a heart attack which he suffered in 1980. I am certain if he had lived we would have seen many more superior performances from Janssen. As far as I know he only made one movie in Italy which was SONO STATO UN AGENTE CIA (or COVERT ACTION as it was re-titled for release outside of Italy) but he also starred in another European production entitled THE SWISS CONSPIRACY. SONO SATO UN AGENTE CIA was a totally engrossing drama and saw Janssen as a former CIA  agent who had retired and decided to tell his story in the form of a book. The CIA as you can imagine are not too pleased about this and they send Arthur Kennedy to track Janssen down in Greece.  The landscapes are stunning, the photography marvellous and the storyline and the performances by all actors are outstanding.

The musical score is by one of Italy’s foremost composers of film music Stelvio Cipriani.  Cipriani was no stranger to this type of movie when he was commissioned to write the score and had also made a name for himself scoring a number of successful Italian westerns, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN and BLINDMAN among them. Cipriani opens the score with a delightful easy going semi disco tempo composition entitled RELAX. The romantic strings laced with playful sounding harpsichord are just two of the trademark sounds of Cipriani which combine elegantly and melodically; intertwining and complimenting each other to create an almost leisurely piece that is not only entertaining but also serves the movie well – the composer establishing almost immediately a romantic ambience to the proceedings. Track number two, CIA AGENT is another example of the composer’s prowess and originality in creating haunting themes. This restrained and rather downbeat sounding cue is performed by solo flute which is backed by guitar and underlying strings with a restrained use of percussion. Track three, AGENT TALE seems on its commencement to be a pleasant enough sounding interlude, but one which accompanies the murder of one of the stories characters in an old theatre. Track four, JOURNEY IN ATHENS is a gentle nod in the direction of Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hajidakis as it certainly has a number of similarities to both TOPKAPI and ZORBA THE GREEK. Cipriani creates a somewhat authentic sounding composition that is vibrant and full of life. This composition is reprised in track five but the composer arranges it in a slightly different fashion reducing the tempi. Track six, ‘Investigation Rhythm’ is a masterful piece as the composer returns to elements of the CIA AGENT theme but on this occasion interjects and infuses a sense of mystery by using a more brooding approach via different instrumentation and creating an atmosphere that is solitary and singular. Track seven is a reprise of the opening theme ‘Relax’; the composer on this outing commences with pensive piano that leads into harpsichord which picks out the rather lovely theme strings are to present in an arrangement of the theme that is reminiscent of the composer’s excellent theme for THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN. Overall this is a great soundtrack and one that I am so glad has been released on CD thanks to Chris’s Soundtrack Corner for this gem of a score and I look forward to many more being issued on this particular label. Presented well, with many informative notes and scattering of stills from the movie.

IL CONSIGLIORI.

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Composer Riz Ortolani has been associated with numerous European / Italian and also American made movies. His style of composition lends itself particularly well to the genre of the romantic variety, but he has also penned a number of films scores that are certainly hard hitting, for movies such as THE VALACHI PAPERS, DAY OF ANGER, THE GLORY GUYS, DAYS OF FURY, THE 7TH DAWN, THE McKENZIE BREAK, BATTLE FOR ANZIO and THE HUNTING PARTY to name a handful of examples. The composer’s career began in 1954 with LA VACANZE DEL SOR CLEMENTE but it was not until 1962 that Ortolani was thrust into the limelight with his score and also the haunting and popular theme for MONDO CANE entitled ‘More’. Ortolani was one of the very few Italian or European composers from the silver age of film music who managed to work outside of his native Italy and become successful.  He was called upon by numerous directors and filmmakers to enhance their films with his beguiling and attractive themes and although at times his scores were a little sparing in quantity, the composer made up for this in the quality department. IL CONSIGLIORI (1973) aka COUNSELOR AT CRIME was directed by Alberto de Martino (BLAZING MAGNUM) and starred Heavyweight American actor Martin Balsam, who played a ruthless San Francisco mob boss Don Maggadino, and popular Italian actor Tomas Milian who is Maggadino’s lawyer or Consigliori. The movie is a prime example of Italy’s Poliziotti genre and contains a couple of terrific car chases and some great visuals of San Francisco and Sicily. Ortolani fashioned a score that works on a number of levels and includes a particularly relaxing and haunting central theme (‘Tomas Theme’) which is in many ways similar to his main theme for THE VALACHI PAPERS; the composer utilising to great effect the string section of the orchestra to create a simple yet enduring and bittersweet sound that has now become associated with the Maestro. The theme can be heard throughout the score, but it surfaces in varying arrangements or as part of another cue creating a continuity to the work. The composer also employs a more laid back lounge or jazz influenced style within the work which for the most part is low key and basically could be used as a background to a dinner party but none the less these interludes are pleasant and also welcomed. Then there is the more dramatic and slightly atonal style that the composer adds to the mix as in track number two, ‘The Advisor’ which begins in an almost sinister style but then launches into an upbeat pop led piece. Again this is a composition that is repeated at various stages of the score.
One particular cue that I think stands out is track number eleven ‘Pupi Siciliani’, and although it is downbeat and even mournful to a degree, it also posses a lilting and near romantic attraction to it. This is an interesting release and one that I know will be welcomed by Euro Score collectors; another solid release from Chris’s soundtrack corner..

ATLI Örvarsson talking about MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.

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You recently completed THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS-CITY OF BONES, and I understand there are six novels in the series; the second movie is already in pre production, how did you become involved on the movie?

– I actually ran into the director, Harald Zwart, at the premiere for my last film, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and he expressed an interest in me taking this one on with him.

What size orchestra and choir did you utilize for the score, and did you use any specialist instruments or soloists?

– The orchestra and choir were about 90 pieces and I used all kinds of special instruments ranging from bass duduk to the viol, which actually plays a pretty big role in the score.

The soundtrack album will be issued on MILAN records shortly, have you been involved with the sequencing of the soundtrack and also what cues will be included etc?

Yes, I did the sequencing of it myself and decided to completely disregard the order of the cues in the film and simply make the most listenable album I could.

I have been lucky enough to hear just two cues from the score, CLARYS THEME which is very lush and romantic sounding and also THE CLAVES CURSE, which is certainly epic and full of drama in it’s sound and style, when you begin work on a score do you like to start with a central theme and build the remainder of the score around it, or do you begin with smaller cues firstly?

– My mantra is that there’s a big difference between writing music and writing cues.  I believe that for the cues to be built on a strong foundation you must have your themes and musical ideas worked out before scoring the picture.  Of course, that’s plan A and there are exceptions but I usually want to start that way.

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At what stage of proceedings did you become involved on THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, and did the director Harald Zwart have a hands on attitude to the style of music and where it would be placed etc?

I came in quite late and had about 2 months to do the score which meant that there wasn’t much time to let ideas gestate.  Harald is the kind of director who loves music and he was very hands on which was great.

You recorded the score at Abbey Road, do you have any personal preferences as to where a score is recorded and why, and how many sessions did it take to record the score?

There are great players and great places to record in both London and Los Angeles.  Abbey Road has a wonderfully rich history and very beautiful ambient acoustics which I thought would fit nicely for this score.  We recorded the score in two sets of sessions, the first one was four days and the second was three days.

Did you conduct the score and do you conduct all of your film scores, or are there some where you have used a conductor and supervised from the recording booth, likewise do you orchestrate your scores?

– I did conduct this score.  I have only recently started conducting and find that it’s something I enjoy very much.  I feel that there’s a different relationship with the musicians when you’re out there with them than in the recording booth.  That does have its advantages too though so I might go back and forth but at the moment I’m really enjoying conducting.  Orchestration is a bit different than it used to be because nowadays, at least the way I work, the music is mocked up so extensively that it’s almost fully orchestrated as it is being programmed.  Having said that, I worked with a brilliant orchestrator, Julian Kershaw, on this film and when he extracts my sketches into a written score it adds another level of quality to the music.

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How many times do you like to watch a movie before you get a more or less fixed idea about what music you will write and where you think it would be best placed to serve the picture, obviously use MORTAL INSTRUMENTS as an example?

– I didn’t have a whole lot of time to watch the film before I got started!  I did watch it a few times to get familiar with it and get a feel for the tone but I more or less had to just jump in and start writing!  One thing I have learned though is that it’s very important to keep watching the film as a whole, or at least big chunks of it, as you’re scoring to get a good feel for the overall arch of the score.  In a way, be mindful of the both the forest and the trees.

As this is the first in a possible series of movies, do you think you will be involved with the other films if and when they are made?

– I certainly would love to be invited back!

 

The soundtrack compact disc will be released on Milan records on August 20th.

MOVIE SCORE MEDIA AND KRONOS RECORDS JOIN FORCES.

Some info that should be of interest to any fan of quality film scores!

MovieScore Media and Kronos Records join forces
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Independent soundtrack labels to build Europe’s most prolific quality soundtrack output

GÖTEBORG, Sweden, August 13, 2013 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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MovieScore Media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prolific soundtrack label MovieScore Media, based in Sweden, and quality niche label Kronos Records, based in Malta, have reached an agreement to collaborate in the fields of producing and distributing quality film score albums to both wider audiences and targeting the special soundtrack collectors market. “We are two small independent European labels growing strong together, building a new and solid platform for the nurturing of contemporary quality film music as well as never before released classic film scores,” said MovieScore Media’s producer, Mikael Carlsson. Added Kronos Records’ Godwin Borg, “This is the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration. Expect some true gems to come out of this teamwork!”

The two labels’ goal with their collaboration is to build one of the most prolific soundtrack catalogues in Europe, focusing their attention on quality film scores from both new and old films, both from Europe, USA and other parts of the world.

The deal will result in more of MovieScore Media’s albums being released on CDs, while more of Kronos Records’ albums will also be available in digital format. “We take advantage of each others’ distribution niches,” said Mikael Carlsson and continued, “While MovieScore Media has released almost 150 albums on CD, many of our releases have been digital only. Our collaboration with Kronos Records will make more physical releases possible.”

CDs under this new joint label will be marketed as MovieScore Media/Kronos Records releases. Titles will be available from both labels and their respective distributors, where MovieScore Media focuses its distribution on wider audiences (via distributors RSK Entertainment in the United Kingdom, MVD Entertainment in the USA and Canada and Edel in Germany) and Kronos Records targeting the soundtrack fan base via special film music retailers worldwide. Albums are distributed digitally via MovieScore Media to all digital platforms worldwide, including iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Spotify and Google Play.

Among the CD releases announced and to be available from MovieScore Media/Kronos shortly are The Tall Man (Todd Bryanton/Joel Douek/Christopher Young) and Half Light (Brett Rosenberg), both previously released digitally by MovieScore Media, as well as all new releases such as Trishna (Shigeru Umebayashi), The 25th Reich (Ricky Edwards) and Big Bad Wolves (Frank Ilfman).

MovieScore Media and its sub-label Screamworks Records have released over 200 soundtrack albums since the launch of the company in 2006. Among the many acclaimed albums in the catalogue are soundtracks for Let the Right One In (Johan Soderqvist), Pandorum (Michl Britsch), Centurion (Ilan Eshkeri), Conquest 1453 (Benjamin Wallfisch), four volumes of Merlin (Rob Lane et al), Triangle (Christian Henson), Submarine (Andrew Hewitt), JCVD (Gast Waltzing), Black Death (Christian Henson), In a Better World (Johan Söderqvist) and The Awakening (Daniel Pemberton). In its ‘Discovery Collection’, MovieScore Media has released world premiere recordings of scores by esteemed composers such as Michael Kamen, Basil Poledouris, Patrick Doyle and Dario Marianelli.

In 2012, an album released by MovieScore Media’s sub-label Screamworks Records, The Shrine (music by Ryan Shore), was nominated for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media’ category. MovieScore Media has been nominated to the International Film Music Critics Association Award for ‘Film Music Record Label of the Year’ six years in a row.

Kronos Records has been releasing quality film music since 2009 and has music composed by film music legends such as Akira Ifukube, Francesco De Masi, Carlo Rustichelli, Piero Piccioni, and George Fenton in its catalogue. Much like MovieScore Media, Kronos is also active in the field of discovering and promoting new talented composers, such as André Matthias, Jorge Aliaga and Kristian Sensini.

THE HAMMER COMEDY FILM MUSIC COLLECTION.

 

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Hammer films and comedy, sounds a bit of an odd combination, but in fact some of Hammer’s most successful movies were comedies and also comedy was something that Hammer were doing long before they resurrected DRACULA or FRANKENSTEIN. The studios most lucrative movie of the comedic variety was actually a film that was based on a popular ITV show called, ON THE BUSES. This was the first of three films that Hammer produced that centred on the cheeky and somewhat unlucky bus driver Stan Butler and his sidekick bus conductor Jack who were forever in it up to their necks or chasing woman, and always hotly pursued by the grinning inspector Blake or Blakey who’s mission in life was to get the better of the dodging duo. So quite rightly GDI decided that their comedy compilation of music from Hammer films should commence with selections from all three of the ON THE BUSES films, let us say straight away the music for these comedies was very tongue in cheek and was more often than not a musical wallpaper rather than an actual film score, but saying this it did it’s job and was an integral part of each and every movie and also every gag or comedy caper that was taking place on screen. So the collection kicks off with the title song from the first movie in the series, “ITS A GREAT LIFE ON THE BUSES” which was performed by singing group Quinceharmon. This is a very jolly sounding vocal in fact you can almost see the singers broad smiles as they perform it, shades of BROTHERHOOD OF MAN. This jaunty, cheeky and bouncy little ditty sets the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. The end title makes an appearance in track 2, but is shorter than the opening track, but more or less the same. Track 3, is taken from MUTINY ON THE BUSES the music here is by well known British composer Ron Grainer, who of course found a place in music lovers hearts with his theme for DR WHO and later wowed soundtrack fans with his wonderfully atmospheric score to THE OMEGA MAN, the music that he has penned here is serviceable and pleasant enough but lets say its no Oscar winner as far as film music goes. Tracks 4 through to track 7 are taken from the final instalment of the Buses trilogy, HOLIDAY ON THE BUSES, composer Denis King was responsible for the score to this, and although it is fairly easy going material and pleasant enough it is far from memorable, King of course too found fame in writing for the small screen, remember BLACK BEAUTY? So the buses trilogy out of the way we move onto the next movie, it too started out as a TV show and became very popular with audiences in the UK during the 1970,s LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR would certainly not be given air time nowadays, lets just say it was a tad racially motivated and would be frowned on in this day and age if the TV company decided to repeat it. The score for the movie version of the series was the work of another well known British composer, Albert Elms, Three cues are included on the compilation, these are THE TITLE SONG,THE QUIZ and THE CRUISE, With most of the music included on this collection, there is not a lot that one can say about it other than it is serviceable and also that it was well suited to the movies it was written for, they say comedy is one of the hardest things to get right when you are an actor or a director, and I think that also can be said for the composer too, it must be difficult not to go over the top musically, because a splurge of music here or a little too much volume there could in affect ruin the scene or spoil the punch line, the carry on movies seemed to be able to get the mix right in all departments, and I think that Hammer were in a way trying to emulate the masterful comedy that radiated from that particular series of movies when they embarked on making comedy films during the 1970,s. At times it worked on other occasions it fell a little flat. Vintage Hammer comedy is up next in the running order as we are treated to Tony Lowry’s typically British sounding comedy musical flourishes from the 1958 naval caper UP THE CREEK, which starred David Tomlinson and peter Sellers and was directed by Val Guest.

 

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Back to the 1970,s for the next four tracks, all of which come from MAN A BOUT THE HOUSE, music here is by Christopher Gunning, who also worked on Hammers HANDS OF THE RIPPER, again the music is fairly easy going and light, with two of the cues easily fitting into the Musak category of the dentist waiting room variety, the selections from the score do however include some up tempo chase music and a catchy title song performed by Annie Farrow. Two characters that featured in MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE the TV series and also the movie were George and Mildred, and as it transpired these proved to be more popular than the series they first popped up in, thus they were given their own TV series and also a feature film was produced, but not by Hammer, but GDI felt that they could not omit the odd couple from their compilation, so we have music from GEORGE AND MILDRED by Les Reed  and also another Cinema Arts inc production RISING DAMP with the repulsive Rigsby and the sex starved Ruth being musical accompanied by composer David Lindup. Back to Hammer next, and Stanley Blacks music for FURTHER UP THE CREEK, which is obviously the sequel to UP THE CREEK. The compilation also includes two vocals from NEAREST AND DEAREST, with THE MORE YOU LAUGH being performed by Hilda Baker, in true Nellie Pledge fashion. Plus I ONLY ARSKED which was an adaptation of the TV series THE ARMY GAME, that is represented by the vocals of Bernard Bresslaw on the song, ALONE TOGETHER. The final selection is by composer David Whitaker and is taken from THAT’S YOUR FUNERAL, which was released in 1973,and it has to be said is nowhere near as interesting as the composers other Hammer scores, i.e.; VAMPIRE CIRCUS and DR JECKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. But wait there is more, three bonus tracks are saved right until the end, and you know the saying save the best till last,    well no actually forget that,,, these are just a bit of fun really, they include The ON THE BUSES title song, performed by those nice smiley folks, Quinceharmon, but this time its Accapella, and two cues from RISING DAMP one of which is a version of the title song performed by Leonard Rossiter.  Without a doubt this is a collection for true Hammer devotees, and yes there are some pleasant enough compositions within its running time, but I think Hammer should really stick to scaring people.