You have quite rightly so received a number of awards for your work in the production of reconstructed and re-recorded film scores, was setting up Tadlow music something that you had thought long and hard about before initiating it.
When I started Silva Screen Records 30 years ago with Reynold DaSilva I always wanted to try and work towards making new recordings of classic scores. I was first able to achieve this with THE BIG COUNTRY and then LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, but we soon found out how expensive it was to record in London and that you did not totally own each master recording. So I looked around Europe to find an orchestra who could perform classic film scores of Hollywood in the same style as 1940 and 1950 orchestras and came across, after the recommendation of Carl Davis, the Prague musicians.
So, my first venture into recording in Prague was on Feb 6th 1989 with an album of Music from the Fellini Films by Nino Rota. It was such a joyful experience that I kept going to Prague to do more collections and some complete scores like THE LION IN WINTER, ROBIN AND MARIAN, RAISE THE TITANIC etc.… Silva Screen then decided to concentrate more on recording individual themes for collections rather than complete scores. So, that is when I decided to leave Silva Screen, about 14 years ago, and set up Tadlow Music Ltd. The initial aim was not to have a record label at all, but just produce and contract orchestras for recordings for other labels and for original film, TV and video game soundtracks. But after 2 years of success I did what I vowed not to do, I set up my own new label, Tadlow Music, devoted to making new, complete recordings of some of my favourite scores.
After initially doing THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, TRUE GRIT, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOMES, my dear friend Luc Van de Ven of Prometheus Records wanted to get involved in the same kind of projects. So, for his label I started with titles like THE ALAMO, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE etc.… Luc is fantastic to work for…I give him a budget for each album, he green lights it and just lets me get on with the recording, of which I have total charge, and just awaits the final master. He has never even been to one of my Prague sessions…although he has listened over the internet to sessions.
We first met a number of years ago when you were behind the counter at the much missed 58 DEAN STREET RECORDS where you guided me to buying some wonderful soundtracks on LP, was moving into the business of actually releasing soundtracks even at that time something you were thinking of?
I had always contemplated starting my own record label but never had the funds… but teaming up with Reynold da Silva solved this. So, that by the time I started Tadlow Music I had some finance but more importantly a long list of clients, composers, producers who wanted to work with me on recordings.
I understand that your original career choice was law, so how did you end up being the prolific producer that you are?
I maybe should have gone to University to read law, as my father was a solicitor (famous for having The Moors Murderers as clients!) and my sister is a solicitor. But, after A levels I took a year off exams to work in a record store in Stockport, Cheshire….I enjoyed it so much I moved to a larger record shop in Manchester; Rare Records Ltd of John Dalton Street….and then was “poached” by Derek Braeger of 58 Dean Street Records to run this shop as he knew of my passion for film music.
You started at Silva screen releasing re-recordings of classic scores such as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE BIG COUNTRY etc., these were all recorded in London I think by the Philharmonia, what made you look outside of the UK for an orchestra?
As answered above: initially mainly cost and the London recordings not be a 100% total buyout…it is essential for any record label to own their own masters so that they can be easily licensed for commercials, film trailers etc.… As CD sales alone do not cover recording costs. But after a few years of building up a great pool of musicians with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra I realised that for many forms of music these musicians are world class and now I would not want to record with anyone else.
SILVA were I think very brave to release the Hammer compilation and the other horror film music collections such as HORROR and THE JAMES BERNARD compilation, would these be scores that you might revisit and re-record on TADLOW or are they probably not so popular as say EL CID, CONAN etc.?
I do not believe I would ever re-visit scores I have ever recorded with the exception of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA whose London sessions did not go well, and maybe THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN as I was urged by others at Silva to record with the amateur orchestra The Westminster Philharmonic and I still regret this decision as while being a good amateur orchestra they cannot compete with the quality of a fully professional unit. In fact some of the Hammer scores that David Wishart recorded with them had to be re-done or completed by me with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
You said recently that composer Maurice Jarre once said when asked if he ever composed any “SERIOUS” music as in concert music he replied that all of his music was serious music, do you think that in many ways film music is the new classical music or at least will be looked upon in this way in years to come?
You only have to look at the amount of film music concerts there are now to realise that, yes, film music is the popular orchestral music for the public and the best of those scores will be long remembered after the more avant-garde and contemporary compositions of our generation. There is no doubt in my mind that if Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert were alive today, they would all be making a healthy living by composing film scores!
How do you decide on which score you will re-record, there are so many real classic works that are crying out for a fresh lease of life, is it personal preference to a certain extent?
For Tadlow Music I only ever record scores that I like personally … after all it is my own money I am spending, so choices are my own favourite scores. Commercially it is madness to do a new recording of IS PARIS BURNING? But I love that music….and no one else is going to do it. For Prometheus Records and Luc it is slightly different. I give him a list of various ideas and he chooses titles he either likes or thinks might sell. Before recording for Luc I was not a huge fan of Dimitri Tiomkin….but Luc wanted to record THE ALAMO, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and DUEL IN THE SUN. Having worked on all of those and always being 100% committed to ever recording project even if not so keen on the music, I have grown to love and adore Tiomkin’s music even though it is by far the most difficult type of score to record and perform. I did manage to persuade Luc to do QBVII, as another favourite score, and then he added onto those sessions HOUR OF THE GUN and THE SALAMANDER….so recording anything by Goldsmith is both a challenge but very rewarding even though they would not have been my own choices. Luc also wanted to record some are John Barry, so we did MISTER MOSES and THE BETSY, the music being the opposite of Tiomkin, much easier to record and perform but still needing the full commitment of the musicians and Nic Raine to perform with elegance and grace of the scores. We have often spoken about doing Antheil’s THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION, as we both love that score, but it might be financial suicide….so that is on the back burner, unless funding can be found?
Did Maurice Jarre ever express an interest in recording a complete soundtrack for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA?
After the London debacle of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA we did talk a few times of recording it as how we both wanted it…especially as I had all the original Gerard Schurmann orchestrations. I was just waiting for a time when I had a finances for such a venture… unfortunately Maurice did not live to hear the final results but I am sure he would have been please as he approved other recording I had done of his music.(I was approached at one time by Robert Townson of Vareae about letting him have the original score for a possible recording in Scotland….but I declined his request as I knew from the first time around how difficult LAWRENCE OF ARABIA was to get right and much more session time would be needed than for the average film score! And I did want another shot at it myself as it is the score that ignited my passion for film music.
EL CID is a wonderful recording on TADLOW was it hard to obtain the funding to bring this project and indeed any of the projects you have undertaken to fruition?
EL CID was a very expensive project. I never get any outside funding, all Tadlow Music CDs are totally funded by me from profits made on the contracting and producing side. As it was such a long score we did have to divide recording sessions over 2 different weeks in a 6 month period (as I had to do with Taras Bulba). It would be lovely to have funding … but no one has ever stepped forward with this. It does really annoy me how after fans will say “Why don’t you record such and such…why did you bother with THE BLUE MAX” etc… My stock answer now is,” I will send you my bank account details if you want to make a £50,000 deposit…I will record any score you want”. So far no one has ever taken me up on this!
After LAWRENCE OF ARABIA I told my long-suffering wife, Janet, “that’s it…no more recordings and using up any spare cash we might have! Let’s go into retirement with something in the bank”. But after a few months I got the bug again to spend money we didn’t really have and do OBSESSION, THE BLUE MAX, VILLA RIDES and others.
You utilise the talents of Nic Raine as a conductor but you also conduct yourself. Is it sometimes better for you not to take to the podium because you are better placed monitoring the recording?
I am not really a musician and certainly would rather not conduct…I leave that to the experts like Nic and Paul Bateman as well as my Czech conductor friends like Adam Klemens, Richard Hein and Miriam Nemcova. You have much, much more control over the performance of the orchestra, the balance of an orchestra, the recorded sound etc. by producing from the booth rather than waving your arms around with headphones on and the annoyance of the click track. Conducting is a separate art, and even though most fans do not believe me, very, very few film composers were and are particularly good at conducting unless they had a world class American or British session orchestra to help them and the tempo guide of a click track. Of all the composers I have worked with Elmer Bernstein was probably the most naturally gifted and technically correct of conductors. I just do not understand why some of the younger composers I work with want to put themselves through the hell of standing before 70 plus hardened, professional musicians unless they have the right technique and know how to “train” and rehearse an orchestra section. Leave it to the professional conductors…you can have far more fun in the control room … plus you can also interact with the director of the film or the producer and know what their feelings are as the music is being recorded. (This might save a few scores being “rejected” after all the hard work).
IS PARIS BURNING is one of your recent releases, which is a stunning recording, how long does it take to complete a project such as this, from beginning to end?
IS PARIS BURNING? compared to some other projects was relatively easy to do as Paramount Pictures had kept in storage all of Maurice’s original handwritten scores. So once I got copies of these scores I passed them onto one of my Prague music copyists, Tony Mikulka, to input all the music onto the Sibelius music software programme to produce computer-generated new scores and parts. I received the scores from Paramount in February 2015 and told Tony to start work on the music even though I had not any recording date planned. I was just waiting for a time when I might have the funds. Tony probably took about 3 months to get the music ready….as I told him “no hurry”. Other projects can take an awful lot longer especially if only a few scores survive, or if only sketches, or if nothing exists at all and my orchestrators (someone like Leigh Phillips or Aaron Purvis) must do a “take down” by either listening to the original audio release or the film DVD. This happened with SODOM AND GOMORRAH, so I think I gave Leigh about 7 to 8 months of music prep, and when we knew he was in the final stages I would then set the recording date. For IS PARIS BURNING? I did not expect to record it until late 2016 or 2017 … but dates with the orchestra became available in December 2015 as DUEL IN THE SUN had to be postponed because the music prep on that was taking forever….
FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES held its first gathering in London on September 24th (2016). What was your involvement in this and hopefully there will be more?
Tim Smith approached me with the idea. I instantly agreed to sponsor (pay for) the event without realising how expensive it might become as we all got a bit too ambitious! But the first one worked out well, so the second already planned and 5 fantastic composer friends have already agreed to take part.
Are there any scores that have been particularly difficult to re-record and for what reasons?
Tiomkin, Tiomkin, Tiomkin and Tiomkin !
Do you prefer to concentrate on full scores when re-recording or do you like to produce compilations with various composers involved
Mostly full scores but I loved doing the NOTRE DAME DE PARIS: MAURICE JARRE double CD so that I could record some of my favourite Jarre themes that would never need a full score.
At the FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES q and a session, you asked the composers present if they thought film music was an art or a craft, what are your views on this?
As most of them said, a bit of both. If you are a craftsman with the right training the “Art” will then come…. But when it doesn’t there is still the craft to fall back on.
You have completed the score from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD by Miklos Rozsa, when do you think this will be released and can you give us an insight of what might be to follow on TADLOW? Is there any one score that you would like to record but have not been able too?
THIEF will be released in November. Then DUEL IN THE SUN in Spring 2017. About to record on November 10th and 11th a Jerry Goldsmith CD. With, hopefully!!!, BEN-HUR recording sessions in Spring or Summer next year. After that I have no more projects to hand…so maybe I can finally retire disgracefully, as will be 61 later in December