The Gold series as presented by the ever industrious Kronos records has yielded many exciting and interesting titles within a relatively short period of time. The label making available either long out of print soundtracks or bringing scores to collectors for the very first time. The latest batch of scores to be issued under this banner are certainly no exception. They include two soundtracks from Italian cinema and the score to a movie which I have to admit I have not seen. BANOVIC STRAHINJA or THE FALCON was released in 1981. Directed by Vatroslav Mimica who also collaborated on the screenplay with Alexsandar Petrovic the pair basing their writings upon Strahinja Banovic who was a hero in Serbian epic poetry. The film starred Franco Nero as Banovic and included a performance by well known German actor Gert frobe in the role of Jug Bogdan, both Nero and Frobe were dubbed for the production Miodrag Radovanovic provided the voice over for Nero and Peter Banicevic doing the honours for Frobe. Set in the late part of the 14th Century, the story centres upon Medievil Serbia which has become the target of Ottoman invaders, a group of these invaders lead by Turkish bandit Alija attacks and destroys a castle killing all of the servants and occupants apart from the young wife of the nobleman Banovic Strahinja who is the lord of the estate where the castle stands, the bandit leader kidnaps the woman and thus starts the nobleman’s almost endless task of finding his wife and returning her to her home, he gathers around him a company of renegades and rouges to assist him in his quest and is determined to find her even though many around him try to convince him that she is lost forever to the Turks. The music for the movie is by Croatian born composer Alfi Kabiljo, when soundtrack collectors think of this composer his score for SKY BANDITS (1985) immediately comes to mind, but Kabiljo has worked on numerous movies and TV projects both in and outside his native Croatia, these include TRANSYLVANIA 6-500 the spoof horror movie with Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley jnr, SCISSORS (which starred Sharon Stone) and GYMKATA which was a Japanese/USA co-production amongst others. The music for THE FALCON is certainly very different from the work the composer produced on SKY BANDITS this is an epic sounding score that enlists the aid of choir and full symphony orchestra, the work is filled with numerous choral pieces which set the scene perfectly and create an aura and atmosphere of an ancient time. The composer also makes effective use of the string section and woodwind within the soundtrack, and sets down a musical foundation in the form of a central theme which is formed of a four note motif that is melodic and haunting, this theme returns throughout the score but it is re-invented and presented in many differing forms with the composer giving it a fresh appeal via alternative orchestration and instrumentation.

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The score is filled with dramatic dark passages and also contains its fair share of highly melodious and sweeping interludes, Kabiljo utilising harpsichord and solo piano at certain points that are underlined and supported by the string section, there are also various ethnic pieces or at least compositions that contain performances by ethnic instruments which makes the soundtrack even more interesting and also authentic. I have to say although I have not seen the movie the music worked for me as a stand alone piece, overflowing with inventive orchestration and bursting with rich thematic material, plus it also made me revisit Kabiljo,s SKY BANDITS. Presented well, with colourful front cover artwork and crisp and clear sound quality. Certainly one to pre order now.

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