Composer James Griffiths has in a relatively short period of time established himself as a film music composer of worth and a talented musician who regularly performs on his film scores. His latest assignment LANCASTER SKIES is certainly no exception, released on Movie Score Media as a digital recording with it soon be given a compact disc release on the Spanish label Quartet. Straight away I have to say that LANCASTER SKIES is a compelling listen, it is filled with rich and tuneful thematic material, in many ways the central themes evoke memories of the style and sound that was realised by Jerry Goldsmith, solo trumpet being particularly prominent giving the work a sound that I for one do associate with the likes of Goldsmith and Williams, the trumpet purveying a sense of loneliness. It is also a score that is scattered with emotive musical passages and lilting sorrowful tone poems. The composer utilising solo cello which is accompanied by delicate piano to relay an air of melancholy. This is a wonderfully affecting work, which one moment is poignant and heartrending but in the next instant can alter into rousing and patriotic sounding pieces or erupt into full on action mode. Woodwinds also feature throughout and are responsible for establishing a sound that is alluring and haunting. The composer told me that the films budget did not run to a full orchestra, so how did he achieve such a rich sound that in places is quite grandiose?
“The live musicians were friends and ex-colleagues of mine. They are either currently serving, or ex-service musicians hailing from the British Armed Forces, and members, or former members of the prestigious Bands of The Household Division. My friends were amazing, very much bringing their excellence to create the authentic British Military wind band sound with orchestra. We recorded woodwinds, brass, and soloists. I also twisted the arm of Peter Gregson (Bach – Recomposed, Forgotten Man) to perform solo cello on the score. I performed as much as I could, playing all of the saxophones, piano, guitar and traditional military percussion. I did everything in my power to use technology to create the most realistic experience of an expressive symphony orchestra. I mixed the score and my amazing assistant, Christoph Allerstorfer, did the mastering”.
The score for LANCASTER SKIES is in a word superb, it is certainly well written, with the composer infusing his work with so many emotions and tantalising textures and colours. It has to it a sound that we would normally associate with War movies of years ago, timpani, low string passages, and ominous sounding interludes, and thundering percussion, but it also has to it a heart and soul that is written in a more contemporary fashion, there is a real lushness to the work and even though the composer was not able to utilise a large orchestra he has achieved the sounds of a symphony orchestra via clever writing and also by integrating solo performances alongside and amongst synthetic instrumentation. LANCASTER SKIES is a stunningly powerful work, and one that collectors will return to many times, this is one for your collection.