THE QUEENS MESSENGER. (sleeve notes for the KRONOS RECORDS release)

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Released in 2001. QUEENS MESSENGER, stars, Gary Daniels as Captain Strong, who is a member of the SAS on loan as it were to the Secret Service, who put him to work as a messenger. Strong is a seasoned and highly thought of officer who has the trust of his government. He is a given a highly volatile assignment which involves the perilous task of delivering an important message to the British Consul in Kazakhstan. He must guard the message with his life, as it contains the details of a number of secret agreements that have been made by a handful of heads of state regarding the control of the country’s oil resources. Strong must keep his wits about as there are many who would like to relieve him of this important document. Ben Samm, is one such person, he is the leader of rebels who most certainly benefit from gaining control of the regions oil exploration right. Whilst travelling to Kazakhstan, Strong meets and teams up with American news reporter Alexi Jones played by Teresa Sherrer, who has heard rumours surrounding the Country’s oil resources and is investigating these, but also becomes curious about Captain Strong’s part in it all. Both the reporter and Strong are captured by the rebels, who have also kidnapped the British Ambassador, and are holding him hostage. Strong decides he must attempt to escape and lead his fellow prisoners to safety. Directed by Mark Roper, QUEENS MESSENGER, is an enjoyabl thriller, that contains more action than storyline, the movies central character becoming involved in an overabundance of chases, shoot outs, and fast paced hand to hand fighting, which take up approximately 90 percent of the films duration. The Bulgarian/Canadian and British co-production, was made on a low budget and sadly at certain points within the movie this does show, but saying this it still manages to entertain without the audience having to think to much about the plot. The musical score for QUEENS MESSENGER is the work of Italian Maestro, Stelvio Cipriani, who came to the notice of the cinema going public back in the 1960, s via his, inventive, haunting and infectious soundtracks to Italian produced westerns, such as A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, THE BOUNTY KILLER and THEY CALL ME ALLELUJAH to name but three. His theme for A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN became a worldwide hit with artists such as LeRoy Holmes and Henry Mancini including arrangements of it on their albums. Cipriani also became known for his highly emotive and theme laden score to THE ANONYMOUS VENITIAN. The music for QUEENS MESSENGER is in the main action driven, with up-tempo themes and near martial sounding cues dominating the work. But the composer also manages to include a lush and romantic sounding side to the soundtrack, in the tracks, BACK TO LIFE and ALEXI’S THEME with strings that swell and rise and solo piano that is delicate and alluring, which adds a degree of fragility to the proceedings. Its sound not being a million miles away from the composer’s music for THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN.

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Cipriani does have a distinct and recognisable sound, but for QUEENS MESSENGER, the composer employed a more conventional approach, relying upon strong performances from, brass. percussion and strings, with Female solo voice making a subtle appearance from time to time, giving the score a touch of ethnic authenticity. He also bolsters and supports the conventional orchestra with a handful of electronic and synthetic additions which combine with the symphonic seamlessly. Thanks to Kronos records we can hear one of the composer’s lesser known works for the silver screen.

SALVATORE. (sleeve notes for the Kronos release)

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Composer Paolo Vivaldi has written the music for over 70 motion pictures and television projects, most of his works being for the small screen the composer writing for television mini-series or TV movies, such as ADRIANO OLIVETTI-LA FORZA DI UN SOGNO, VISO D; ANGELO, THE TEACHER and I CERCHI NELL’ACQUA. Born in Rome on January 20th, 1964, the composer has put his musical stamp upon drama’s, romantic tales, thrillers, and so many other genres. He has also written haunting and appealing musical soundtracks for documentaries including, THE SUN IS DARK and METAMORFOSI. It is somewhat difficult to comprehend why such a talented and versatile composer such as Vivaldi has not enjoyed more success as in being better known amongst the film music collecting fraternity. In 2006 the composer worked on SALVATORE-QUESTA E LA VITA, which was a movie produced by Disney. The film sadly did not receive many positive reviews and was ignored or overlooked by critics and audiences alike when it was released, which is surprising as the subject matter is something that Disney normally excels at. Vivaldi’s score for the picture is symphonic with a minimal amount of synthetic support and enhancement and is written predominantly for strings, piano and woods, these elements acting as a foundation on which he builds the remainder of the thematic material. The composer underlining and enhancing the movies, dramatic, comedic and at times heartrending moments superbly. Vivaldi, utilizes solo piano within the soundtrack to purvey delicate and fragile atmospheres, creating emotive and haunting musical nuances and interludes. The composer also employs a beguiling Female wordless voice at certain stages of the score which is underlined by cello and further embellished by subtle piano, a combination that is not only affecting but highly effective. The score is not only melodic and alluring, but also contains a richness and has a luxurious musical persona, Vivaldi, shaping, adapting and tailoring his already emotive and melancholy sounding music to suit every scenario that we encounter within the picture. There is also a more rustic side to the work, which comes in the form traditional sounding Sicilian flavoured pieces, which personally evoked memories of Luis Baclov’s soundtrack for IL POSTINO. But, it is the delicate and more melodic thematic material that attracts one to the score, and within the movie the composer does manage to get the correct balance and enhance rather than overpower with his subtle nuances and lingering tone poems, plus creating a rich and attractive work. The score has been issued digitally, but this is the first time it has received a compact disc release.

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After the sudden death of both his Mother and Father, a young boy Salvatore, (Allesandro Mallia), is gripped by anger over his catastrophic loss, but his anger and frustration turns to determination as he decides that he must now become the man of the family carry on the family business stepping into his Fathers shoes. He does this so that he can support both his younger Sister and elderly Grandmother. The 12-year-old continues running the fishing boat that his Father worked and becomes a farmer, cultivating a crop of tomatoes. But because of his determination to carry on working he neglects his education and decides that he will leave school. Social services are made aware of the situation by the education department and become involved, which could mean that Salvatore may be separated from his family and placed into care at an orphanage. However, a young Teacher (Enrico lo Verso) discovers what Salvatore is trying to do, and sets out to help the youngster with his school work, going to Salvatore’s home every day after he has finished teaching to tutor him one to one, he also helps the boy fishing and working in the greenhouse where Salvatore has kept the family business going. Although this is a film that has a predictable plot, and is somewhat sugary in areas, it is still a movie that will be enjoyed by children and adults alike, and is a tale of determination in the face of adversity, friendship and family.