Archive for March, 2017


DEBBIE WISEMAN LIVE AT THE BARBICAN.

 

 

 

It’s not that often that we are treated to concerts of film music, and it’s even rarer to have recordings of the concerts released, so I am so pleased that the Debbie Wiseman concert at the Barbican in London has been issued onto a recording by those lovely people at Silva Screen. Debbie Wiseman is without a doubt one of the most prominent composers of film and TV music in England, and one of the most in demand composers of music for film in the world today. Her melodies are wonderfully constructed and exquisitely orchestrated, they linger long in one’s memory and not only hauntingly beautiful but fit each and every project she works on like the proverbial glove. The composer is conducting the Guildhall School Orchestra on this occasion and the performance is in my humble opinion flawless and inspiring. The recording opens with WILDE WEST from the movie WILDE, now this is a score that is overflowing with thematic content, with its romantic but at the same time fragile sounding nuances and compositions, and when the film was released I was convinced that Debbie would win the Oscar for her efforts on this soundtrack, but alas it was not to be. It is still one of the most played items within my collection, I never tire of hearing its charming and enthralling pieces. The opening cue is followed by another piece from the score entitled, WILDE, which is the central theme from the score, it is abundant with a quality and a sound that we do not encounter often enough within film music nowadays more is the pity. Track three is from TOMS MIDNIGHT GARDEN which is another incredibly emotive and wonderfully haunting piece. Track four is a 4-minute piece from the score to the very popular TV series WOLF HALL which gained many accolades and drew much attention when it was screened on the BBC, it is obvious from the applause at the end of the section that it was also very popular with the audience at THE BARBICAN. Track number five is an 8-minute suite from THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE which is just breath-taking, this is followed by the composer’s highly dramatic music from, THE FLOOD, again popular with the audience. Track seven is a 7-minute piece from the spoof horror movie LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, and although this was essentially a comedy with tongue very much planted in cheek throughout, Wiseman scored it as a serious movie and gave it one of the most alluring and superbly attractive gothic scores that I have heard for many a year. It is quite a majestic sounding work for a horror movie, with lots of brass, choir, and soaring strings, but it works so well within the movie and has a life away from it, being an entertaining listening experience on its own. It is a powerful and commanding work that is performed here with the principal themes from the score being aired.

 

For track number 8, we are back with the melodic and fragile sounding Wiseman for A POET IN NEW YORK, this is a lovely score and features poignant violin solo and lilting and subtle strings that together create and lush and almost luxurious sound that is supported by horns and rumbling percussion and piano, in many ways this is very similar to Wisemans music for WILDE, it has a powerful but at the same time intimate sound which has purveys an atmosphere of solitude and loneliness. Next up is a short but beautiful suite from the movie HAUNTED, this again contains a theme that one just cannot resist, it is if you will forgive the pun haunting and completely mesmerising. Within the score the theme is performed at one point on piano which is affecting as well as effective, here we are treated to a full orchestral working of this gracious and alluring theme, which is breath-taking. The theme from the TV series Father Brown is next, this always reminds me of a waltz, it’s one of those themes that one hears and knows straight away what it’s from and if you are in another room and you hear it you know the show is starting, it’s quite jaunty and jolly at times but has a hint of a serious side. THE WHALE is next, this begins slowly and quite subdued but builds into a commanding and highly emotional piece performed wonderfully by the Guildhall School orchestra. Next are sections from Debbie’s incredibly powerful tour de force ARSENE LUPINE. In fact, there are four movements from the score, and it is as interesting and enjoyable as it was when I first heard it. The final cue on this superb recording is JUBILEE GIGUE which was written especially for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Again, this is amazingly melodic and stirring, overall this is an album that you should have in your collection, it contains some of the best film and TV music ever written, highly recommended.

DISNEYS, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 2017.

 

Composer Alan Menken has always held a special place in my soundtrack collecting heart, his music along with the lyrics of Howard Ashman were in my opinion responsible for re-launching what was the popular genre of the Disney musical movie in the form of the now already classics, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, POCAHONTAS, THE HUNCHBAK OF NOTRE DAME, HERCULES and later with ENCHANTED and TANGLED. As we know Disney have embarked on a reboot schedule and have begun to re-create some of their classics in live action mode. BEAUTY AND THE BEST being the latest addition to the growing list. This movie has been much hyped and eagerly anticipated and awaited by all cinema goers both young and old, in other words by kids and even bigger kids, who probably won’t admit it. The film has not disappointed and has in my opinion managed to already cement itself within Disney history and is just waiting to attain the status of being a classic. The story which is familiar to all has been acted out on stage in the form of either serious adaptations or more recently as a musical, which proved popular with audiences all over the world, and also committed to celluloid on numerous occasions, the original Disney version which was animated became a firm favourite for everyone, and much of the appeal to both the Disney movie versions of this timeless tale is down to the clever lyrics of Howard Ashman and also Sir Tim Rice, and of course the melodic and haunting musical themes created by the one and only Alan Menken. I think that many of us forget that Menken is a fine composer and there is much more to him than the creation of nice little tunes that accompany catchy lyrics. The composer is more than capable of adapting his style and focusing his musical prowess to any genre, whether this be dramatic, comedic, romantic or all of these combined and is a highly talented composer of music for not only musicals but also film scores which do need lyrics to make them stand out (if you get what I am saying). The latest BEAUTY AND THE BEAST of course has within it many of the songs that we are already familiar with, as in, BE OUR GUEST, GASTON, BELLE and the title song BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which is performed by Emma Thompson in the movie and given an update by John Legend and Ariana Grande. Other songs being performed by Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Sir Ian McKellan, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Celine Dion, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Adam Mitchell, Dan Stevens, and Josh Groban, and I think in many ways if I dare say it have the edge somewhat on the animated versions performances.

 

 

Plus, all the time we have Menken’s superb score which shifts up and down the gears adding pace, melancholy, drama and darkness and light to the unfolding story. Disney I am pleased to say have issued a de-luxe version of the soundtrack which is a 2-disc set and contains all the songs and some of the musical scores principal themes, along with Menken’s demo versions of certain songs on disc 1, whilst on disc number 2, we have the score, which is stunning, and gives us the fans or the listener a chance to savour this musical Maestro’s beguiling, magical and enchanting work for this movie. For whatever reason if you have the opinion this is a soundtrack that might be out of place alongside your collection of film scores, please re-think, take a listen, you may be surprised at what you hear, Menken creates some sublimely beautiful and fragile sounding tone poems, many of which might be already familiar, but there are also new motifs and themes that are intertwined with the already established material and these add even greater emotion and depth to the proceedings, the score radiating a vibrant persona that is, mysterious, poignant, charming and enthralling. The action cues too are really entertaining and gripping as in WOLF CHASE, BELLE STOPS THE WAGON, TURRET PURSUIT etc. And there is the track CASTLE UNDER ATTACK which mixes action with melancholy and comedy scoring. Fully symphonic this is a score that will continue to delight and excite no matter how many times one listens to it, so BE OUR GUEST, pull up a chair have a cup of tea and listen. Highly recommended.

Disc 1:
1.
Overture
3:05
2.
Main Title: Prologue, Pt. 1
0:42
3.
Aria (Audra McDonald)
1:02
4.
Main Title: Prologue, Pt. 2
2:21
5.
Belle (Emma Watson, Luke Evans & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
5:33
6.
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Kevin Kline)
1:03
7.
Belle (Reprise) (Emma Watson)
1:15
8.
Gaston (Josh Gad, Luke Evans & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
4:25
9.
Be Our Guest (Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Ian McKellen)
4:48
10.
Days in the Sun (Adam Mitchell, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Audra McDonald & Clive Rowe)
2:40
11.
Something There (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack & Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
2:54
12.
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Emma Watson)
1:55
13.
Beauty and the Beast (Emma Thompson)
3:19
14.
Evermore (Dan Stevens)
3:14
15.
The Mob Song (Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Mack, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Ewan McGregor)
2:28
16.
Beauty and the Beast (Finale) (Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
2:14
17.
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Céline Dion)
3:37
18.
Beauty and the Beast (Ariana Grande & John Legend)
3:47
19.
Evermore (Josh Groban)
3:09
20.
Aria (Demo)
0:36
21.
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Demo)
0:59
22.
Days in the Sun (Demo)
3:30
23.
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Demo)
1:21
24.
Evermore (Demo)
2:55

Disc Time:
62:52

Disc 2:
1.
Main Title: Prologue
3:01
2.
Belle Meets Gaston
0:54
3.
Your Mother
2:13
4.
The Laverie
1:22
5.
Wolf Chase
3:14
6.
Entering the Castle
1:18
7.
A White Rose
3:57
8.
The Beast
4:03
9.
Meet the Staff
1:00
10.
Home (Extended Mix)
2:04
11.
Madame de Garderobe
1:28
12.
There’s a Beast
2:02
13.
A Petal Drops
1:02
14.
A Bracing Cup of Tea
2:06
15.
The West Wing
2:58
16.
Wolves Attack Belle
3:17
17.
The Library
3:05
18.
Colonnade Chat
2:53
19.
The Plague
0:51
20.
Maurice Accuses Gaston
2:01
21.
Beast Takes a Bath
1:21
22.
The Dress
1:01
23.
You Must Go to Him
2:50
24.
Belle Stops the Wagon
2:42
25.
Castle Under Attack
4:20
26.
Turret Pursuit
2:12
27.
You Came Back
5:13
28.
Transformations
4:06

Disc Time:
68:34

Total Album Time:
131:26

BEYAZ MELEK. WHITE ANGEL.

 

One of the reasons that I decided to set up Movie Music Italiana or Movie Music International as it is known now, was because of my love of film music from other countries outside of my native England. I hope as the blog/web site has developed and evolved I have been able to bring reviews and news of film scores from many different lands and keep you informed about new composers and films. I recently came across quite by accident a handful of scores from Turkish movies, obviously with the music being created by composers from that country. One score in particular caught my attention and that was WHITE ANGEL or BEYAZ MELEK, to give movie its original title. The music in this case is the work of two composers, Yildiray Gurgen and Mahsun Kirmizigul (who is also a writer and actor), they are assisted by other composers and artistes along the way, however, the music flows and it is as if it is the work of one individual rather than five of six separate creators. The score for BEYAZ MELEK is a varied one and for the most part is symphonic, it contains some beautiful melodies and its fair share of darker and somewhat sinister or apprehensive moments. On the first listen I was struck by not only the scores richness but also by its commanding and powerful presence which is achieved by the use of strings and brass that are supported and embellished by urgent sounding choral accompaniment at times. There is also a fragile and intimate side to this work with solo piano performing a lilting and haunting set of themes that are emotive and deliciously simple, but at the same time so effective and ultimately affecting. One of the tracks on the score that instantly got my attention was track number 3, EL, which employs solo piano, that acts an introduction to a full working of the exquisitely sensitive theme by the string section of the orchestra that is punctuated by solo trumpet and subtle use of woodwind that in turn are embellished by the faint use of timpani which briefly adds a martial sound to the proceedings. The composer responsible for this wonderfully lyrical piece is Tevfik Kulak, but to be honest if you were not aware of the composer, one could be forgiven for assuming it was either Thomas Newman or Rachel Portman one was listening to. The remainder of the score is also a richly rewarding listening experience and contains a few dialogue cues but these also contain music so it is well worth listening, this is a score that is uplifting and highly emotional, and one I would recommend highly. Please check it out.

MADELEINE.

 

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Hungarian Born composer Arthur Valentin Grosz is I must admit a new name to me, but looking at this composer’s credits he has been very active and busy scoring movies over the past few years. One of his recent assignments is for short film entitled MADELEINE, the score is a touching and highly emotive one which relies predominantly upon solo piano which at times is supported by strings and a subdued use of choir. The score is just 20 minutes in duration, but it is a soundtrack that has an immediate effect upon the listener. Its lilting and highly melodic tone poems are alluring and haunting, the composers gift for melody being obvious from the outset. Most of the cues include solo piano performances and although short (some under a minute) they do make a big impact upon the listener, the MAIN TITLE for example begins with piano, that is underlined by strings and faint choral performances which are replaced by a solo cello giving the piece a sorrowful and at the same time romantic sound. Track three FATHERS THEME is one of my personal favourites again it is a brief piece, but its eight-note motif performed on piano which repeats and is supported by subtle use of strings is affecting. The same can be said for each track, there is something beautiful and mesmerising within each of the selections that will have the listener returning to them as soon as they have finished playing. There is nothing that is over-ally dark or sinister within the score apart from a slightly apprehensive piece ESCAPE, which is track number 11, where the composer utilises strings to create an unsettling atmosphere, most of the cues being pleasant and highly attractive. It is I suppose the simplicity and fragility of the themes and nuances within the work that makes it so interesting and appealing. I would recommend that you sample this as it is a score that I know you will become fond of straight away.

TRACK LISTING.

1.
Main Theme
1:45
2.
Photograph
0:57
3.
Father’S Theme
0:51
4.
Peacock
1:08
5.
I Can Not Breathe
0:50
6.
The Doctor
1:16
7.
Tooth Brushing
0:35
8.
Finding The Peacock
0:54
9.
Alone
0:46
10.
Il Est Mort
2:07
11.
Escape
1:19
12.
Waiting For The Bus
1:18
13.
Over The Bridge
0:46
14.
Madeleine & Father
1:04
15.
In The Hospital
1:27
16.
Chasing
0:57
17.
End Title
2:37

Total Album Time:
20:37

KONG-SKULL ISLAND.

 

Another so called block buster hit the screens recently in the form of yet another retelling of the KING KONG story. KONG SKULL ISLAND, is an updating of the tale, with lots of special effects and an equal amount of predictable hammy acting from the assembled cast. I must say that when Hollywood attempts to re-make or re-invent a classic movie it invariably falls a little flat. Sadly, this is also true as far as the musical score is concerned and KONG SKULL ISLAND is no exception to the rule. Composer Henry Jackman has in the past few years been involved with several of these so-called BLOCKBUSTERS which have not block-busted anything or grabbed attention apart from maybe an overload of wooden acting performances and sound alike musical scores. His score for KONG SKULL ISLAND is sadly nothing special or original. In fact, it sounds like most Hollywood scores that are being created now, it is neither inventive or in anyway interesting, it is a fusion of orchestral, rock and synthetic/electronic. Which in my opinion too much synthetic content, there seems to be a trend with Hollywood movies to create this pop/synth sound and although Jackman does throw in a few symphonic moments these are not enough to make the score that appealing, basically it is a standard action score, which when listening to it could be the work of any composer because there are no quirks of orchestration or composing style within it that one could say “AHH THAT’S JACKMAN”. It is a score that would probably also fit any of the big budget movies that have been released of late. No individuality, no stand out traits of composition in fact wall to wall brass and strings bolstered by percussive backgrounds both conventional and electronic which are also supported and enhanced by synthetic elements. If you look back and make comparisons with past KING KONG movies, Jackman’s effort is probably at the bottom of the league table, Steiner’s we all know is a classic, simply because it was the first and also because of the composers approach and originality, even John Scott’s KING KONG LIVES, contains some good thematic material and John Barry’s excellent score for the 1970’s ill-fated cinematic outing for the giant ape was hauntingly appealing in the use of themes and motifs, and of course more recently there was James Newton Howards Kong score, which again boasted a nice balance of both action and rich alluring tone poems. So Jackman was up against stiff opposition but the movie business of the 21st century is somewhat different from the days when the aforementioned movies were released, one cue that does come over as less of an electronic mish mash are tracks number 12 THE TEMPLE and track number 13 GREY FOX which both have about them a slightly less synthetic sound with the composer employing strings and subdued brass, with a scattering of woodwind the latter having a style to it that is not dissimilar to that of Jerry Goldsmith but only a fleeting one, giving us a glimmer of a real theme.

So, I must say that KONG SKULL ISLAND will probably not be returning to the disc player that often as far as I am concerned. The music works in the movie because it elevates the already fast paced action of the picture, but the synthetic overpowers the symphonic, so the movie and the score are not for me.

TRACK LISTING.

1.
South Pacific
0:35
2.
The Beach
1:27
3.
Project Monarch
2:02
4.
Packard’s Blues
1:14
5.
Assembling the Team
1:48
6.
Into the Storm
2:44
7.
The Island
1:16
8.
Kong the Destroyer
3:43
9.
Monsters Exist
2:27
10.
Spider Attack
1:39
11.
Dominant Species
2:00
12.
The Temple
5:47
13.
Grey Fox
2:33
14.
Kong the Protector
1:49
15.
Marlow’s Farewell
2:37
16.
Lost
1:27
17.
The Boneyard
1:52
18.
Ambushed
2:21
19.
The Heart of Kong
2:11
20.
Man vs. Beast
2:31
21.
Creature from the Deep
2:44
22.
The Battle of Skull Island
5:46
23.
King Kong
2:42
24.
Monster Mash (Bonus Track)