freebirdsA movie about Turkeys, well I know there have been a few films which have been prize turkeys, but FREE BIRDS, is actually an animated feature that has Turkeys with feathers as its central subject matter. Its a funny old holiday is thanksgiving, funny as in maybe a little quirky to us Brits who really at times just don’t get it or anything American, but obviously it’s a time of great celebration in the States so hey  lets join in.  Of course in the UK we don’t have anything like it, do we, well there is Christmas, Easter, oh yes Sunday roast etc etc etc, and lets not forget Mournday Thursday where the Monarch gives out money and in case you did not know Postman get a day paid holiday ?????  Ok FREE BIRDS which is produced by same team that brought us the hilarious and endearing SHREK, focuses upon the main Turkey character Reggie, who has been pardoned and saved by the President of the United States and consequently will not be gracing a dinner table near you this thanksgiving, unless of course Turkey rustlers get involved, but that is another story. After being pardoned Reggie finds himself going back in time and ending up in the Americas of 200 years ago, now being a particularly bright Turkey Reggie sees an opportunity to save his fellow Turkey kind in future years from being unwilling dinner guests and decides that if possible he will change destiny and in some way attempt to remove his Turkey brethrens from the menu. So it’s a little complicated and far fetched, but sounds as if it’s a good bit of fun. The musical score is courtesy of Dominic Lewis, the composer was born in the United Kingdom and after gaining his musical education at The Royal College of Music in London, relocated to the United States and began to work with composers such as John Powell, Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman, mainly writing additional music cues for productions such as RIO, KUNG FU PANDA 2 etc etc. FREE BIRDS marks the composers first main score as a composer flying solo as it were. His additional music writing duties obviously providing him with experience and a seasoned maturity in his composing skills as the score is a delight to listen to; it is for the most part quite grand sounding with choral   and symphonic elements being upper hand within the proceedings. The style and sound achieved has obvious influences from other composers that he has collaborate with but there is also present a glimpse of originality and a undeniable individuality shines through on occasion.


MV5BMTUzODgzMzc5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODkyMDA0OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR131,0,214,317_ If I am honest I also detected a leaning towards the style of James Horner when his style was fresh and he was scoring movies such as KRULL, WILLOW, WRATH OF KHAN and AN AMERICAN TAIL, this is more prominent when Lewis combines powerful choir and soaring strings with urgent flourishes of brass and fast and furious trumpet punctuations as in the short lived but imposing cue EGGS-ISETENTIAL CRISIS (track number 11) and the emotive and touching THE RIGHT STUFFING (track number 22). Also maybe little hints of John Debney come to the surface at times again manifesting themselves more robustly within the cues that involve choral content and swelling string crescendos that just exude emotion and are overwhelming with emotive content. Taking into account that this is an animated movie and at times maybe the music can be a little obvious, displaying a little clumsiness, laced with comedic and slightly over the top nuances, it still has the presence and strength to remain highly entertaining, the score also contains a number of moments and fleeting musical passages that purvey an atmosphere that is truly mesmerizing which are not only stunning but contain a sense of heart warming melancholy as in SCHOOL OF FLOCK and LAID TO REST where choir and strings combine to create a special rich and haunting atmosphere. FREE BIRDS is I suppose a busy score a score that never takes a breath or sits on the sidelines and is filled to overflowing with a varied and at times unbelievable array of instrumentation, that includes EL SOLO PAVO which is a brief but upbeat Mexican Mariachi making an appearance acting as an introduction and eventual background to a Spaghetti western sounding electric guitar solo, that lends itself well to the upbeat and foot tapping background. FREE BIRDS is indeed an entertaining work and one that will continue to be of interest for a long while. The central thematic properties or core theme from the work do return in various arrangements and musical incarnations throughout the score but because the composer re-invents the theme on every outing it continues to be a surprising and fresh sounding piece  that is vibrant and rewarding each time. The theme can be emotive or romantically laced or even turns up at times as a more urgent and relentless sounding composition as in IRATUS AVES (track number 27), which is a combination of both dramatic and also triumphant sounding flourishes, containing turbulent undulating strings and rising brass and shimmering percussive elements. Overall this is an extremely good score and one that will stand composer Dominic Lewis in good stead amongst his peers and will ensure that this music-smith will be in gainful employment for many years to come.


Music composed by Pierre Jansen
DCM 155 • UPC: 771028238538
Release date: December 2, 2013
A CD premiere from Disques Cinémusique for one of the finest scores by Pierre Jansen, a composer best known for his extensive collaboration with caustic director Claude Chabrol (The Butcher, This Man Must Die).
A faithful adaptation of a novel by Pascal Lainé, winner of France’s prestigious Goncourt Prize, 1977’s La Dentellière (The Lacemaker) tells in a gentle way the transient love affair between a modest trainee hairdresser and a self-centered student belonging to the petite bourgeoisie. Young Isabelle Huppert gives a flawless performance in the lead part, paving the way to one of the most successful careers as an actress in contemporary French cinema.
Director Claude Goretta was not sure about the music he wanted for his beautiful but slow paced movie. He had Schubert in mind but wanted something original and tailored made. Pierre Jansen (born in 1930), managed to deliver a rich and surprisingly diverse score. While remaining subdued in the sound mix of the movie, it can be fully appreciated on our carefully mastered album.
On the one hand, for the prevalent, dramatic part, The Lacemaker offers classical-style pieces performed by a traditional orchestra dominated by strings and woodwinds, highlighting flute, piano and guitar. On the other hand, there is popular source music typical of the seventies, with synthesizer, electric guitars, drums and vocals. These lighter pieces rival the best achievements of this kind of music from pop specialists in vogue at the time. Both genres are grouped into separate blocks. Once again Jansen shows us con brio that a genuine “serious” film composer must be extraordinarily eclectic.
This limited edition of 500 copies is licensed by Gruppo Sugar. Color insert with a 6-page booklet.
Music composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre
DCM 154 • UPC: 771028238484
Release date : December 2,  2013
A less known score from the great Maurice Jarre (1924 – 2009) makes its premiere on CD from the Canadian label Disques Cinémusique.  
Volker Schlöndorff’s Circle of Deceit, released in 1981, follows a German reporter (Bruno Ganz) on a mission to Beirut to cover the ongoing conflict between Christians and Muslims. Confronted with the horrors and the complexity of this civil war, he comes to question the usefulness of his profession. On his return to Berlin, in a crisis of conscience, he refuses to sell his article to the newspaper.
Schlöndorff starkly shows the harsh reality of a conflict with universal and topical resonance. He denounces at the same time the excesses of the press, which tend to favor sensationalism rather than rigorous analysis of the situation. Against a conventional war movie backdrop, the director takes a documentary approach, incorporating real fight scenes into his narrative. What Circle of Deceit loses as entertainment, it gains in authenticity and realism.
Composer Maurice Jarre, who had previously collaborated with Schlöndorff for The Tin Drum, opts for a largely atonal score, but it is not unattractive for that. Though disconcerting at first glance, the cues quickly become enthralling and prove to be very efficient on a dramatic level. The synthesizer and a chorus occasionally support the orchestra dominated by brass. Jarre uses many exotic plucked instruments, as well as a wide array of percussion, providing local color throughout the score. All in all, Circle of Deceit will be a nice surprise for the composer’s fans. Limited edition of 500 licensed by Argos Films. Color insert with a 4-page booklet.




Based upon the novel by author Markus Zusak, the Book Thief is the latest directorial assignment for Liverpool born Brian Percival who has worked steadily mostly on television projects and has become more prominent because of his involvement with DOWNTON ABBEY. In fact I did at one point think that maybe composer John Lunn would have been the director’s choice for this movie his style probably would have been suited to the project, so it was somewhat surprising when Williams was announced as the composer. But anything that Williams is involved with always seems to have quality stamped all over it and this score is certainly no exception. Of course in the content of this latest work one will notice certain similarities to a handful of other works by the composer, most notably some of the style and sound that he achieved within the soundtrack to JANE EYRE is abundantly present, and also there are little quirks of orchestration that shine through within the work that echo his haunting tone poems from SCHINDLERS LIST and it also at times has a wistfulness to it that again evokes Williams scores from past assignments, such as the melancholia from ANGELAS ASHES and even some of the more intimate  musical moments of his DRACULA soundtrack. The score for THE BOOK THIEF relies predominantly upon the use of piano and also the string section of the orchestra with little nuances and fleeting enhancement from woodwind, harp and horns, with other sections of the orchestra adding feint underlying support, which although obviously present is in no way overpowering or intruding, the central instrumentation always remaining uppermost in the equation. It is however the piano that for the majority of the time becomes the heart of the score, the instrument creating a subdued and delicate sound that at times can be likened to a flower that is gently unfolding in the warmth of the summer sun, beginning slowly and in an unassuming fashion, but then beautifully blossoming into touching and heartfelt melodies which soon become more pronounced and in their own fragile and tantalizing way are affecting and dominant. This practise mesmerises the listener and totally engrosses them. Set in WWll, THE BOOK THIEF tells the story of a young German girl who is sent to stay with foster parents as the Nazi’s gain a powerful hold on the country and war becomes inevitable. It is via the perspective of the young girl that we see the beginnings of the tragedy that will become what we all know now as the Holocaust. It is her and her foster parent’s understanding and their love of the written word and also her friendship with a Jewish man that assists her to cope with the terrible things that are starting to happen and that she is witnessing. John Williams creates a somewhat frail and uneasy sounding poignancy with his sparing and understated approach but at the same time he manages to purvey a mood that that is hopeful if not tinged with a degree of uncertainty.

John Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall afte...
John Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall after he conducted the Boston Pops. May 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The compact disc opens with ONE SMALL FACT, in this we hear piano opening the proceedings as it picks out the central theme from the score, this effective introduction is short lived as strings enter the arena and take on the theme briefly before things slow and finally come to rest with a sprinkling from the piano.  Track number two, THE JOURNEY TO HIMMEL STREET is a more solemn sounding piece, with woodwind opening the cue and then passing the duties to piano, the theme which rises throughout the work and will become an accompaniment for the young girl begins to establish itself here even if only briefly. It re-occurs throughout the score at times being underlined by subtle strings or mirrored by plaintive woods and harp. There are a few slightly more up beat moments within the score, track number five, THE SNOW FIGHT for example; this did for me personally evoke memories of TOURISTS ON THE MENU from JAWS, but a less vigorous version of that particular composition. Track number seven, BOOK BURNING is full of tense and dramatic strings, which ooze an anxious and broodingly fearful ambience, this tension can also be heard in track number seventeen, RESCUEING THE BOOK, but the mood soon alters and melts into a more relaxed and melodious affair midway through this piece. THE BOOK THIEF is a score that maybe one will listen to and think yes this is John Williams, is there anything that is new or original here? Well possibly not, but it is a score that tugs at the heart strings and also one that just reaffirms this musical masters talent and his obvious gift for creating eloquent and melodious music that will live forever in the hearts and the minds of his many followers and also will stay with numerous movie goers long after they have left the cinema.