Notes for the Nov/Dec 2014 release VIY on Kronos Records. pre order here. http://kronosrecords.com/K56.html
The production of the movie VIY-3D was beset by various problems most of which were financial. Cameras began to roll on the Russian, German, Ukrainian and Czech co-production in the early part of 2005 but soon ceased as the production hit problems, filming began again but then was stopped on several occasions due to lack of funds, after a number of postponements the movie was eventually completed in the December of 2012. However it still did not see a theatrical release until the January of 2014 and this was restricted to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. On seeing sections of the movie I was reminded very much of the style of filming that was employed on short films that were part of a BBC series entitled TALES FROM EUROPE, this was a series that showcased many productions from Europe and in particular Eastern Europe. VIY has the same look and atmosphere to it, the film is a colourful, fantastical, mysterious and magical experience that has an aura surrounding it that is attractive and alluring which draws in the watching audience until they are consumed and totally convinced and mesmerized by the events that are unfolding on screen. Set in the early 18th century this richly dark adventure extravaganza tells the story of a cartographer named Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) leaves his pregnant betrothed and her insanely enraged Father (Charles Dance) to embark upon a scientific expedition to create a map of the Carpathians which takes him from Western Europe to the East in which he passes through the dark and mysterious land of Transylvania and over the Carpathian Mountains until he finds himself in the Ukraine. Travelling in a driver less mechanical vehicle that is drawn by horses the traveller happens upon a group of monks who relay to him a terrible and unsettling tale about a witch who lives in a village that is nearby and of their companion a young priest who stood vigil over the body of a young girl in a Church that overlooked the village, the beautiful young girl transpired to be a witch and their companion had never been seen or heard of again. The traveller is intrigued by the monks tale and decides that he must travel to the village and make a map of it. He arrives at the village and makes a somewhat spectacular entrance by crashing through its gates after being attacked and pursued by ghostly wolves through a thick and fog shrouded forest. Adapted from and loosely based upon the short story by the Ukrainian born Russian writer Nikolai Gogol which was originally published in the first volume of his collection of tales entitled MIRGOROD in 1835, the title VIY refers to the name of a demonic entity which is central to the storyline.
There have been a number of films made that are based upon this unsettling tale in 1967 there was the Russian version entitled VIY which is now regarded as a classic, in 1990 there was the Yugoslavian adaptation in the form of A HOLY PLACE, another Russian version in 1996 entitled VEDMA THE POWER OF FEAR plus a Korean edition under the title of EVIL SPIRIT in 2008. This latest adaptation of the story was scheduled to be released in 2009, which would have been the 200th anniversary of the authors birth, alas this was not to be. The original 1967 version and also A HOLY PLACE were almost direct adaptations of the authors story whereas this latest take on the story is greatly expanded upon being presented as a re-adaptation of Gogol’s original ideas. Shot in 3D this is certainly one of those edge of the seat movies that I am sure will become essential viewing for many, filled with stunning horror scenes and superb special effects, a sequel is to be filmed . The musical score is by Anton Garcia who should not be confused with Anton Garcia Abril. Anton Garcia was born into a Spanish family who lived in Moscow in 1965. He began his musical studies aged twelve and in 1985 was responsible for forming the first trash metal band in Russia called SHAH who went on to be one of the most well known and famous bands in the country. In 1995 the band parted company and Anton started to work as a producer working on over twenty long playing albums and composing a number of songs that would go on to be great success’s for various bands and solo artists. He has also worked as a composer writing for advertisements and in 2000 he began to write music for film, his most recent assignment being VIY 3D. His score is filled with vibrant and exciting themes and the best way to describe it is to say that it is a fusion of the styles that have been employed in movies such as VAN HELSING, CUTTHROAT ISLAND, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES and the more recent works of Marco Beltrami and Danny Elfman. It is an unrelenting and highly entertaining work that evokes memories of action and adventure soundtracks of bygone days and will be as popular with collectors as the movie it is composed for.
John Mansell (c) 2014
As the notes appear in the CD booklet. Graphic design by Godwin Borg Kronos records (c) 2014.
Notes for the Kronos Records release, Nov/Dec 2014. Pre order here http://kronosrecords.com/K54.html
Released in 2011, SUMMER SONG is a bitter sweet highly emotional movie that tells the story of a young woman Ellie who is a gifted musician. She is however in turmoil and is faced with some difficult choices that include loyalty to her family or following her dream. She is given the responsibility of caring for her five siblings because her Mother is incapable of caring for them due to her acute alcoholism, her Father is also unwilling to step up to the mark and shoulder the responsibility quite happily letting his Daughter struggle with the task. She even turns to her brother who is a preacher for help but he refuses. Ellie immerses herself in music for solace and also to the affections of a young Mechanic for comfort that she hopes will help her through her complicated life.
The musical score for the movie is the work of Andrew Holtzman and Peter Bateman, the latter as we know achieved recognition earlier this year (2014) with the release of his heroic sounding score for ATLANTIS-THE LAST DAYS OF KAPTARA which was also released on Kronos records. SUMMER SONG contains music that is far removed from the thundering and at times epic style that was employed on KAPTARA, the composers on this occasion turning to a far more gentle and romantic approach with a lilting, sorrowful cello that also at times becomes heart warmingly attractive, piano solo and emotive strings playing a major role within the score, the composers add to these elements subdued woodwind, and soft guitar to create an atmosphere that is fragile, intricate and captivating. Bateman is no stranger to the world of film music and many collectors and aficionados of the art have probably heard his music in numerous other movies without realizing it. I say this because the Maestro has been involved as additional music composer or orchestrator on many soundtracks including EPIC for Danny Elfman, MALEFICENT for James Newton Howard and PRIEST for composer Christopher Young to name but three. The score for SUMMER SONG is an eloquent and beguiling work, built upon a beautifully haunting central theme which is re-occurring throughout the score from which the composers produce a number of variations that support and enhance the film and accompany the central character as she experiences the trials and tribulations that are life. The music I think can be likened to the style of Rachel Portman (Cider House Rules) or even the work of Debbie Wiseman and James Horner. It is touching, affecting and totally absorbing.
John Mansell (c) 2014.
notes as they appear in CD booklet, graphic design by Godwin Borg, Kronos records (c) 2014.
RELEASED NOV/DEC. 2014 ON KRONOS RECORDS. PRE ORDER NOW.http://kronosrecords.com/K55.html
Composer Neil Argo is certainly no stranger to scoring movies and television projects and if maybe you are thinking that you have not heard his name before its not surprising, because Neil is another of those consistently excellent and highly industrious people who work in movie music that is sadly underrated and at times overlooked. Born in San Diego California, the composers interest in the writing of music for film came out of his fascination with composers such as Jerry goldsmith, Dave Grusin, John Williams, Michel Legrand and others. His interest in music began at the age of 5 and his passion for film music composition soon led him to start studying music from an early age at first in school then in later years when he joined the United States Air Force. It was whilst serving in the Air Force that the budding composer joined the NORAD band as a drummer and it whilst performing in this band that he met with other musicians who were looked upon as some of the best in the world at that period in time. He gained much experience whilst in the band and also managed to get an insight into the music business which would stand him in good stead when it came to him leaving The Air Force. On leaving the military Argo attended college in Texas and it was here that he reached the decision that he would set aside his career as a drummer and concentrate on orchestration and composition, and further inspired him into becoming a composer of film music. In the early eighties he was assigned to provided the theme and also the background score to 35 episodes of WILD AMERICA for television which launched in 1982. The composer continued working on the series for a number of years and after completing five years with the production Argo moved location to Los Angeles where he continued to become involved with various film and TV assignments which included orchestration and arranging jobs on DYNASTY, HOTEL and THE COLBY’S for Aaron Spellings production company. The composer also worked on the popular MacGyver series for Paramount at this time. During the early 1990,s Argo was approached by fellow composer John Davis to work as co-composer on a newly filmed TV series of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, sadly this proved to be a little less than popular with the viewing public and the series was cancelled after just two years, but Argo continued working on a number of productions for the Spelling company via his connection with John Davis which began with BEVERLY HILLS 9012, and continued with programmes such as MELROSE PLACE and HEARTS ARE WILD. In 1993 the composer scored the National Geographic special SURVIVOURS OF THE SKELETON COAST which led him to being principal composer on the mini series SKELETON COAST SAFARI for which he received much acclaim.
He has continued you to work on various projects and films of varying genre and has received Awards and nominations for his music. His score for P.J. garnered the composer a Bronze award for Artistic Excellence in 2008 and his music for the movie LEGENDS OF NETHIAH was nominated for A Hollywood Music in Media Award in 20012. His more recent assignments include, CHAVEZ CAGE OF GLORY, EDUARDO AND TED and RESTORATION OF PARADISE.
The score for P.J. is for the majority of its duration a fairly light affair the composer relying upon the use of solo piano, solo guitar, misty sounding woodwind and also the string section to create some really attractive and plaintive musical moments. In many ways the music is very much akin to the style employed by Dave Grusin and Michel Legrand on many of their film scores, it has at its core a jazz resonance but also posses dramatic and romantically laced sections that blend and compliment perfectly the central style and sound of the work. The music is restrained but also affecting and emotive, the composer fashioning elegant and passive themes that not only work well within the context of supporting the movie but are in addition to this rewarding and entertaining in their own right away from the images they are intended to support. There is however a slightly darker side to the proceedings Argo utilising to great effect the string section to create a sound that purveys an atmosphere that is apprehensive and slightly edgy. P.J. is a score that will be returned to many times after the initial listen and on each outing I know you will find something new and fresh. Enjoy.
John Mansell (IFMCA)
Movie music international(Italiano).
as the notes appear in the cd booklet. design by Godwin Borg of Kronos records..
Born Eric Gakkroger in Halifax U.K. on September 25th 1921, composer Eric Rogers was destined to become a name that was synonymous with one of British cinemas most successful comedy series. Rogers became interested in music from an early age, and began to become involved with music at the age of thirteen when he was given lessons in playing the organ at his church. He never actually received any formal musical instruction but was a self taught musician and gained experience as a musician playing piano for free beer during the second world war. When the war finished Rogers formed his own orchestra which was given a residency at the Orchid Rooms at London’s Trocedero, he gained a reputation during the early 1950,s for being a talented arranger and also conductor for musical variety theatre in London’s west end. He began to work on films during the late 1950,s at first scoring children’s movies but then working on British releases such as the war drama THE WOODEN HORSE and the comedy GENEVIEVE.
In the early 1960’s he collaborated with Lionel Bart on the original stage version of the musical OLIVER this was because Bart never actually had any knowledge of writing or reading music, Rogers was responsible for converting Bart’s ideas into musical notes and acting as arranger and orchestrator on the production which premiered on June 30th 1960. At the same time Roger’s began to work with composer Bruce Montgomery, again carrying out orchestrations and arrangements. In 1962, Rogers acted as musical director on the score for Dr. No, working with composer Monty Norman on the first James Bond movie. Composer Bruce Montgomery was involved the CARRY ON films, which at that time were new to cinema audiences. CARRY ON executive Peter Rogers was not happy with Montgomery, the composer found it difficult to deliver his music on time and relied upon Eric Rogers to complete the assignments, so Peter Rogers decided to ask Eric to work on CARRY ON CABBY in 1963.
This first foray into CARRY ON comedy led to the composer scoring a further 21 films in the series, CAMPING, SCREAMING, MATRON, COWBOY and UP THE KHYBER being his most prominent and popular, the composers final encounter with the franchise came in 1978 when he provided the score for CARRY ON EMMANUELE. In 1975, the composer re-located to America, this was because he was receiving numerous requests from the United States to work on television series and films there. He became involved with De Patie Freleng who were responsible for producing a number of shorts and animated series that were popular at the time. These included, RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES, WHATS NEW MR. MAGOO and SPIDER WOMAN. He also worked as musical director and arranger on a number of animated shows that the company produced including THE PINK PANTHER SHOW and conducted Dean Elliot’s music for THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR in 1978.
Peter Rogers and Eric Rogers were not related as many thought, but they did however have a great working relationship and long term friendship. The filmmaker often collaborating with the composer in the actual writing of the music giving him ideas etc as to what he thought would best suit the movies. The music that Rogers provided was at times very tongue in cheek for example in CARRY ON SCREAMING, he worked in a version of the Z CARS theme when the detectives played by Harry H Corbett and Peter Butterworth were seen in there automobile. He also added a touch of pathos in the form of the STEPTOE AND SON theme in CARRY ON DOCTOR when Wilfred Brambles made an appearance. Rogers was also responsible for writing the ever so familiar SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALADIUM theme and scoring and acting as musical director on movies such as, BLESS THIS HOUSE, NO SEX PLEASE WE’RE BRITISH, ALL COPPERS ARE, INN OF THE FRIGHTENED PEOPLE and THE BEST HOUSE IN LONDON amongst others. Rogers died on April 8th 1981 aged 59 in Buckinghamshire.