THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY.

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As we all know there are numerous very talented composers who write for both film and television that are either overlooked or at times forgotten. I would not say that Angela Morley falls neatly into this category because she obviously has a following even now some nine years after her death, Morley was born Wally Stott in 1924 and was responsible for working on many BBC produced radio shows during the 1950’s and was encouraged by composer Robert Farnon in her work. Stott became an almost household name because of the connections with artists such as MARLENE DIETRICH, MEL TORME, ROSEMARY CLOONEY and BENNY GOODMAN and also via recordings that She did for READERS DIGEST and Phillips records. In the 1970’s Stott underwent sex reassignment surgery and after this as Morley began to work more widely scoring movies and writing for television productions. She is probably best known for her work on movies such as, WATERSHIP DOWN, THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE and WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL, as well as stunning scores for TV films and series such as MADAME X, THE LOOKING GLASS WAR, DYNASTY and HOTEL. Morley.s work for film and TV was never widely available so this is why I am pleased that JOHN WILSON and HIS ORCHESTRA have released THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY on the VOCALION label. This is a wonderful collection of superbly crafted themes and musical excerpts from various Morley soundtracks. The compilation was actually recorded before the composer passed away at Abbey Road studios in 2003. So forgive me if I am late on this one. The release showcases perfectly the versatile style and the evident talent of the composer, who was able to move from genre to genre and create memorable and tuneful melodies whether they be for cinema or television or just light music compositions or even library tracks. This I think is one of the best compilations I have heard in recent years dedicated to one composer, simply because it is so varied and richly melodic for the most part. As well as the shows and film titles I have mentioned the CD also includes a handful of tracks that the composer wrote for the Chappel library and are typical sounding pieces from the genre of British light music in the 1950’s with carefree sounding woods, cheeky pizzicato and lush sounding strings, the CD also includes music from WATERSHIP DOWN and CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY. Morley was a talented composer and arranger and as well as working of her own assignments would also assist John Williams on scores such as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. She also worked on various arrangements for Williams for his recordings with The Boston Pops Orchestra. I cannot recommend this compilation to you enough, it is a gem of a collection and a wonderfully entertaining and enriching listening experience. The near six minute section from CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY is particularly welcome as is the music that Morley penned for THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, performed to perfection by the excellent John Wilson Orchestra. Definitely one for your collection.

BLACKkKLANSMAN.

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Considering that the soundtrack album for BLACKkKLANSMAN only runs for just under forty minutes, its quite astounding the impression it makes on listeners. Terence Blanchard is in my opinion one of the great unsung heroes of Hollywood movie scores, his numerous soundtracks are at times overlooked and this is a crime against the art of film music, his music is varied and vibrant strong and melodic, haunting, and at times jazzy and somewhat sleazy with melancholy undercurrents. BLACKkKLANSMAN score contains all of the aforementioned attributes and more. In fact I was a little slow on the up-take for the score and although I had it it always seemed to get put to the back of the pile, which is something I do regret now, why? Well because it is such a wonderfully constructed and performed score, its not only great supporting the movie but it is also fantastic as a stand alone selection of music which one can easily put on and loose yourself in. Its an interesting score with Blanchard opening up proceedings with a track entitled GONE WITH THE WIND which parodies music that was for years utilised in films such as GONE WITH THE WIND and any other such film that had Gentlemen of the South in it, we and I mean all of us know exactly what the movie GONE WITH THE WIND was saying and what it was about, but I suppose because during those days and up to recently it was ok to eulogize the Southern States and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the blatant racism that was rife and lets be honest still is. BLACKkKLANSMAN is actually based on true events, which makes one wonder what the ? A black police officer infiltrates the KKK is this for real, well yes it is. Any how Spike Lee handles the directorial duties wonderfully as he always does, and if anyone thinks that Mr Lee is done and dusted then have another think. So the music well Blanchard has fashioned a score that is filled with dramatic and tense sections but also boasts a number of moments that are not only tuneful but entertaining. The composers jazz slanted work for me always evokes memories of great film scores such as IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THEY CALL ME MR TIBBS, etc. But there is so much more to this score than pleasant melodies and jazz orientated flourishes, there is real drama here with strings, brass and timpani being called upon from time to time, plus there is fragility and a delicate sounding musical persona present at times, which envelopes and delights the listener, one particular trio of cues entitled TALE OF TWO POWERS 1, 2 and 3 are interestingly low key and certainly apprehensive and successfully build an air and atmosphere that is thick with uncertainty and unease. Then we have tracks such as WHITE POWER THEME which is overflowing with over the top brass and percussion, plus the BLOOD AND SOIL theme which combines both drama and a laid back almost funky style but one that is subdued and melodious, with strings and horns supporting the guitar as it lays out the eight note motif, backed by percussion. This is a score I would recommend, it is just a great listen.

ZWINGLI.

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New for 2019 is the film ZWINGLI which is a movie directed by Stefan Haupt that tells the life story of Church reformer Ulrich Zwingli. Who in the 14th Century preached ideas on the reform of the Catholic Church, he was also one of the main critics of the Swiss mercenary system, he studied at the Universities of Basel and Vienna the former being a centre of Renaissance Humanism. He became the Pastor of Glarus and in later years continued in this role at Einsiedein and whilst holding this position continued his studies and became influenced by the writings of the Dutch Christian Humanist, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. In the late1500’s Zwingli became the Pastor of Grossmunster in Zurich and it there he began to preach his ideas on reform more, denouncing the practise of fasting at Lent .

The movie tells his at times turbulent and interesting life story in detail. The musical score is by a trio of composers who are from the same family. Diego, Nora and Lionel Baldenweg go under the name of GREAT GARBO, which is a music production company that was established in 2004. Diego, Nora, and Lionel are an award-winning composer team that have written and produced scores for numerous movies and television productions. The Australian/Swiss siblings have also worked extensively on over 300 advertisements worldwide which include music for Master-card, Sony and Carlsberg. Their better known film credits include THE LITTLE WITCH, and HEAD FULL OF HONEY. They have also collaborated with acclaimed orchestras and renowned musical artists. The music that they have penned for ZWINGLI is filled with rich and vibrant compositions, these include, choral passages and the use of solo female voice that at times are supported by symphonic instrumentation but for the most part are performed accapella with stunning and mesmerising effect. The orchestration for the score is thoughtfully done and the delicate and at times fragile sounding solo violin performances purvey a melancholy yet imposing atmosphere that transfixes and haunts the listener. The score is a fusion of the dramatic, the dark the passionate and the romantic, it enthrals and entertains away from the movie and is ever more engrossing as it progresses and develops, there is a serene and mystical persona present throughout but it is the composers effective use of the string section that stands out and shines with solo voice being added on occasion to create an even more appealing and attractive sound. I suppose the best way for you to make up your own mind about the music for ZWINGLI is to go buy it, all I will say is if you do add this to your collection you will not regret it, the richness and the tantalising themes will delight, enthral and enchant you, and too will make you want to search for more by this composing trio. Highly recommended….

ANGEL ILLARRAMENDI.

 

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Film music can be many things, it can be romantic, it can make you cry it can also help to make you laugh, at times it is scary at times it makes you hid your eyes or even hide behind the sofa before anything has happened because one can hear that something will be happening because of the style, sound and atmosphere it is creating you become aware that this something is not going to be particularly pleasant. Movie music can also be inspiring, uplifting and totally hypnotic and if utilised correctly can make a good movie a great one.

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There are many composers that are Masters at their craft and know instinctively just how much music should be applied and also what sounds or hints of melodies will enhance underline and support what ever is going on up on the screen. There are also moments in movies that are not scored with any music and it is I think the sign of a great composer when they know that not every scene needs music, with certain scenes becoming more impacting because the soundtrack is devoid of music or musical sounds. As I say there are many such composers, but I do adore the way in which Spanish composer Angel Illarramendi creates so many beguiling and mesmerising moments via his subtle, lyrical and lusciously rich melodic interludes. His music infiltrates the mind and the soul of any listener, invading and haunting their subconscious and washing over them in waves of vibrant, delicate and dramatic musical poems that are woven together with care and meticulous perfection to create some of the most attractive musical compositions for the world of cinema.

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Even when the composer writes for action scenes he still manages to create beautiful themes and nuances which shine through the action and the drama and entice the watching audience deeper into the storyline that is being acted out. He has a distinct and easily recognisable style, his music being classically grounded and symphonic, in many ways he has a style of writing that can be likened to that of the late French composer Georges Delerue, who also was able to fashion leitmotifs and musical passages that oozed fragility and romanticism. In fact at times Illarramendi has been refered to as the Spanish Delerue. Illarramendi combines the classical styles of great romantic Masters such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov with his own inventive and original style creating contemporary sounding compositions that are laced with tenderness and an abundance of melodious passages.

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Thus creating a sound and a style that is appealing and wholly mesmeric. Illarramendi comes from Northern Spain and was born in Zarautz in the April of 1958. He began to become involved in music from a very early age and aged six was already singing at various festivals which were staged in and around the Basque Countryside. At eleven years of age he started to compose his own music and also began to teach himself how to play guitar. It was about the same time that he began his musical studies, where he also undertook lessons on piano with Maria Barbara Aranguren. Five years later he started to study Counterpoint, fugue and composition, with Francisco Escudero and the music conservatory of San Sebastein. His first recording was released in 1978, this was a singer song writer album but also contained a number of instrumental compositions. The recording was successful and it was then that the composer embarked on a tour of the North of Spain. In 1981 he completed his musical studies and initially worked on various compositions for the Basque theatre school, ANTZERTI. He also began to teach and it whilst doing this that he began to write scores for films.
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As the 1990,s began the composer decided to cease teaching and concentrate more upon his own musical compositions, dedicating his time to the creation of soundtracks and music for concert hall performance. His film music career has been an illustrious one and Illarramendi has worked with many esteemed film makers including, the noted producer Elias Querejeta.

 

 

 

The composers style in my opinion can be likened to that of Delerue but also contains an almost Baroque style. Illarramendi is a gifted composer who delights and amazes with every composition, his heartfelt strings are powerful and at the same time melancholy, his music easily affects, enhances and elevates any movie or TV project it adorns. His musical flourishes are like soft brush strokes on a blank canvas, bringing Colour, life, character and meaning to everything they contact.

TALKING TO THE COLLECTOR.

JAMES ANTHONY PHILLIPS.

James is a good friend and also a person who can identify a soundtrack that is particularly original and interesting. His knowledge of films and film music is great,  and he has an eclectic palette when it comes to both. He is a Scholar and a teacher and has written numerous articles  on the subject of both films and film music.

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1 Why film music, what is it about music for the movies that attracts you and excites you?

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I was really aware of music in films since childhood. In 1966, Hitchcock’s VERTIGO was first shown on network television in New York and I had a clear view of the family television from my bedroom. At that time, we only had a black & white set with the rabbit ear antenna, so you had to get up and adjust it to get a decent picture. Once the credits came on and I saw the eye with the music haunted me for years. Finally, the restored version came out in colour, and I was shocked because I thought it was filmed in black & white. Television scores such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and MANNIX along with BATMAN, STAR TREK, and Warner Bros cartoons. Walt Disney animated films and then my life changed when the James Bond craze hit. I nagged my father into taking us to see YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE because of all of the subway posters throughout the system and I’ve been hooked on John Barry ever since.
Film music took me to a new time and place and feed my imagination.

 

 

2 What was your first soundtrack and at what age did you buy this? I picked up Herrmann’s score to TAXI DRIVER and OBSESSION right after graduating high school, I had a friend who had the entire album collection of Elmer Bernstein’s Film Music Collection for sale at $5 each, so I bought them. My favourites were Herrmann’s THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR, TORN CURTAIN, Rozsa’s MADAME BOVARY, and the Alex North score VIVA ZAPATA.

 


This was around 1978. In 1979, my aunt gave me Jerry Goldsmith’s STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE album for Christmas and that cemented my collection mania of all things Goldsmith to this day.

 

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3. What’s your opinion of contemporary film music as opposed to film music from the 1960s through to the late 1980s?

 

 

I prefer the orchestral scores of the 1960s, with Goldsmith being the leader and the occasionally Herrmann, but it was really the 1970s that changed the style of films and film scores.

 

John Williams, Steven Spielberg

 

However, it was John Williams who without a doubt created the return of the grand orchestral sound with STAR WARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and SUPERMAN, which to me is the greatest march in film history, even beating out the Alfred Newman from THE CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE. It was the love of these films that led me to the 1930s of the Viennese school composers such as Max Steiner, Korngold, and Franz Waxman. KING KONG, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN can beat out any score from today and Williams fans out there know it.

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4 What soundtrack would you release if a record company said to you ok James you can do whatever you want?

This could be a touchy situation because I had written to several label producers about composers and certain scores, but if I had the rights from Universal, I would do the Gil Melle score to FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY, a two-part television film. The film is very haunting, very different from previous Frankenstein scores and composed in the Romantic classical style.
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5. Let’s have a desert island scenario, it is just you on an island, but you are allowed 10 soundtracks, what would you choose to take? This is one of the toughest questions I will have to answer since I love everything that is orchestral and jazz within many genres, so here goes:

1. ALEXANDER NEVSKY – Prokofiev
2. BEN-HUR – Rozsa
3. THE WILD BUNCH – Fielding
4. A TOUCH OF EVIL – Mancini
5. THE WIND AND THE LION – Goldsmith
6. THE OMEGA MAN – Grainer
7. THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR – Herrmann (Dorothy Herrmann, one of his daughters, once told me that her father considered this to be his favourite).
8. THE MISSION – Morricone
9. FIELD OF DREAMS – Horner
10. EL CID – Rozsa
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6 before the arrival of CD’S how many soundtracks did you have on LP record? I had about 800, but lost many of them in a basement flood back in 1996.
7 Do you still play records as well as CDs, and do you do digital at all via music sites such as Spotify and I tunes?

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I enjoy listening to records and CDs, as well as ones I have on cassette tapes while I am at home. When I am on the go, it’s Spotify. Great service and very easy. I don’t have Apple products so I no I-Tunes for me.

8 Have you been searching for a score that has remained elusive? It seems that the labels have been releasing my Grails and I have been a happy camper.

The most recent example is COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, Michel Colombier’s CITIZEN KANE.

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9 what composer or composers would you say dominate your collection?

 

Without a doubt: Jerry Goldsmith in vinyl and CDs. Next would be Herrmann, Williams, and Schifrin. I also have a lot of James Horner. I want to praise the late Michael Kamen, with whom I had an email correspondence and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and he also sent me an autographed photo that I have framed on the wall in my bedroom.

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10.whats the most that you have paid for a soundtrack and which one was it?

 

I bought the hexagonal ANDROMEDA STRAIN album at the old Footlight Records shop in Manhattan for $125. Gil Melle designed the cover and vinyl. When he and his wife Denise came to New York in 2003, was kind enough to inscribe it and now I also have it framed and hanging on my wall.

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11 Do you lament the fading out of the main theme or main title music in films nowadays?

YES! One good thing about the Marvel superhero films is that special clip at the end of the credits and you get to hear the full sweep of the score the way the composer intended. I also enjoy the opening fanfares from 20th Century Fox, Universal, and others.