Back in the 1980, s 1986 to be precise, I read a short review on a soundtrack from a movie entitled LA PELICULA DEL REY (A KING AND HIS MOVIE) by composer Carlos Franzetti. The review was short but very positive, so as I was in London that weekend I decided to search for the LP. To my surprise I found it in HMV Oxford street without even having to ask the counter staff. I got it home and it was better than the review had stated. I tried to get it on compact disc but sadly it was deleted very quickly, I think being an Argentinian movie it was something of a rarity in the UK and the soundtrack was probably deemed as being obscure. It is a score I have looked for in recent years and again had no success, then I got Spotify (yep I am a late comer to the Spotify party). I randomly typed in Carlos Franzetti who is the talented composer of this score and to my amazement there it was, but not just LA PELICULA DEL REY but also another score by the composer entitled EVER SMILE NEW JERSEY and a handful of wonderfully attractive and alluring jazz compositions performed by the Carlos Franzetti trio and two outstanding piano performances by Allison Brewster Franzetti. Carlos Franzetti was born on June 3rd 1948 in Buenos Aires Argentina, he began his musical education at the age of 6 when he entered the National Conservatory in Buenos Aires. He later continued his musical education by taking private lessons in piano and then continued to study music in Mexico after relocating to the country in 1970. Four years later Franzetti moved to the United States and graduated from the Juilliard School in New York. Film and television music is just a small part of this versatile and talented composer’s repertoire, he has written symphonies, concerto’s, operas. Chamber music and big band jazz compositions. His piano concerto number 1 and his symphony number 2, Atlantis are in a word magnificent. In 2001 his album TANGO FATAL won the Latin Grammy Award for best TANGO ALBUM. Two years later in 2003 he was nominated for two Grammy Awards, these were for his recording POETA DE ARRABAL which was in the classical crossover category, plus he co-produced Paquito D’ Rivera’s album PORTRAITS OF CUBA. He has also arranged music for THE BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA, THE BUFFALO PHILHARMONIC and THE BROOKLYN PHILHARMONIC. As well as LA PELICULAR DEL REY and EVER SMILE NEW JERSEY the composer has scored THE MAMBO KINGS (1992) and filmmaker Sidney Lumet’s 1990 movie Q & A alongside many others.
The score for LA PELICULA DEL REY is stunning, it is a varied and entertaining collection of themes that compliment and support each other as well as enhancing and punctuating the movie, the composer employing an at times jazz orientated approach but at the same time also maintaining an air of the dramatic, the romantic and the symphonic.
The opening cue EL GRAN RODAJE, (track number 6 on the recording) is filled with a style and sound that for me evokes the days of vintage Hollywood, maybe the romanticism of Max Steiner or the rich and opulent style of Korngold when in romantic mode shines through or is certainly hinted at within this excellent piece. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but it has an appeal that is delicately pleasing and purveys a subtle persona, which is haunting and not only pleasant to listen to but sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow. Track number 7, ESPEJOS is the second offering from LA PELICULA DEL REY, I must say this is one of the highlights of the score on a personal level, but there again all tracks from this score are highlights because of their quality and outstanding style and sound. It hints at the style of Morricone with a faraway sounding solo trumpet being utilised whilst being surrounded and enhanced by strings that elevate and give weight to the solo performance creating an almost mysterious sound. The film itself is a comedy, directed by Carlos Sorin, the basic outline is that a Buenos Aires movie director who is rather fond or should I say obsessed with the legend of the King of Patagonia and Araucania decides that he will go to Patagonia to commit this epic tale to celluloid, he is accompanied there by a less than talented acting company. Despite of his lack of funding and beset by various technical problems and all round bad luck he continues his journey to film his obsession, but soon finds he has been deserted not only by the company but also the producer. Franzetti created a marvellously affecting score for the movie which is one of those gems within film music that has been sadly overlooked by many, fans and critics alike.
Track number 8, CACIQUES, again is dominated by the string section with a fleeting but essential performance on horn which adds an element of loneliness or solitude, the horn solo is expanded upon and as it grows so do the strings gain more prominence, with harp adding depth and emotion to the piece. It is a subdued composition that builds with enticing and teasing fragments of the scores central theme being suggested at throughout. Moving forward to track number 12, MANIQUIES, where we are treated to a more celestial or epic sounding piece, the composer bringing into the equation choir which is supported by the string section and punctuated by woodwind and harp, again I got the feeling of the vintage scores of Hollywood whilst listening to this cue.
The final cue from LA PELICULA DEL REY is MARCHA DEL REY which is stirring and imposing, but also contains a more subdued and poignant sounding section midway through. Going back to that review I told you about at the start of this review, I must agree that this is a triumphant sound which has certain affiliations with the style created by Elmer Bernstein at times. It is a patriotic and certainly proud sound that we hear within this composition. The other soundtrack on this release is from EVER SMILE NEW JERSEY which was another movie directed by Carlos Sorin and starred Daniel Day Lewis as a travelling dentist in Argentina, and featured actress Mirjana Jokovic as a girl that the dentist meets on his travels in his quest to rid Argentina of tooth decay. It must be one of Daniel Day Lewis’s most obscure movies, but is a very entertaining and at times hilariously funny and oddball. Sadly, Carlos Franzetti’s excellent score was removed and not utilised in the finished motion picture, but replaced with an electronic soundtrack. But we are blessed to have it on this recording or at least sections of it. In fact, there are five selections from the score here, all of which are varied and different, it is a mesmerising work that is filled to overflowing with a rich and vibrant collection of themes. The composer making effective use of the string section once again throughout and interspersing this with flawless piano solos that are jazz infused but romantic at the same time, the piano solo is laced and intertwined by restrained and fragile sounding woods which when fused together in this way create a lusciously enticing and attractive sound. The entire album is pure gold and you should add this to your collection as soon as possible.