Composer Vasco Vassil Kojucharov was born in Bulgaria, but decided to make his home in Italy. He studied initially in Sofia then moved onto Moscow where he furthered his musical education at the conservatory there under the watchful gaze of Aram Khachaturian. After a number of years conducting the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra the composer continued to study with Franco Ferrara at the legendary conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Italy, his ties with Italy were strengthened when he began to compose music for the cinema and collaborated with the great Maestro Nino Rota. The Italian composer frequently praised and spotlighted Kojucharov’s artistry and strength as a composer and conductor. Kojucharov’s music is something of an unknown quantity amongst collectors, the reason for this being the lack of recordings that are available. Thankfully in recent years the BEAT records company in Rome (the label founded by Franco de Gemini) has partly remedied this by releasing a handful of compact discs containing his music from in the main Italian made westerns but there have also been releases of his scores for other genres of movies such as IL PLENILUNIO DELLE VERGINI.
It is not often that a new so called serious or classical music work comes along that stops one in your tracks and just completely mesmerises and wow’s you. But the latest offering from composer Michael Frankenberger did just that, the work which is entitled IN SILENTIO will be officially released on April 6th, but the composer was kind enough to allow me to hear his wonderfully emotive and inspiring work before it went on release. Frankenberger who in the main focuses upon music for film, has penned a gloriously melodic and rich work that was recorded at FILMSTUDIOS BABELSBERG located just outside of Berlin. The composer also orchestrated and conducted the entire work and the album was mixed by Rich Aitken. What struck me about this excellent recording is that it was like listening to film music of the highest quality, but there was not a movie. The opening piece, ON THE FIRST DAY is filled with a gracious and delicate atmosphere, which the composer creates via solo piano that itself acts as an introduction to strings which are gently added and immediately begin to weave into the piano performance underlining it and almost caressing it, resulting in a beautifully written and orchestrated piece that is lilting and subtle. The piano continues to work its magic whilst the strings further develop to support and enhance its performance with their light but meaningful touches, the track is short lived, but sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow and prepares the listener for what will be a highly emotional and enriching musical journey.
METAMORPHOSE is the title of the next piece, again strings create the core of the composition, they gently build, rise and then fall back into a more subdued sound, the poignancy and emotive content of this track in-particular is stunning. The composer fashioning a work that is alluring and beguiling but at the same time it has to it a slight urgency, that is purveyed by more up-tempo string performances that are introduced mid-way through the proceedings. If I were to attempt a comparison, I would say that at times the track did evoke memories of the style of the Christopher Young score for HAUNTED SUMMER, there is a deep and highly emotional sound to this composition and although again it is not overlong it is affecting. Track number three is the title track for the work, IN SILENTIO, unrushed and relaxed strings open the cue with the composer continuing this approach throughout, with only the volume rising slightly as it progress’s, but remaining at an easy pace, the effect being for the music to wash over the listener purveying a mood of calm and contentment. For track number four, we return to the piano theme, ATONEMENT is captivatingly gracious and wonderfully subtle with its simple but melodious theme being attractive and pleasing. The entire album is a comforting and gentle work, which I know will be appreciated by many.
There is a wealth of restful and reassuring passages within the work, it is filled with soft and emotional sounding tone poems, that will be returned to many times. The rich themeatic content of the work too is welcomed and although there are no grandiose musical gestures as in booming percussion or brass flourishes, it makes up for this in its attention to simplistic, passive and moving attention-grabbing musical styles, themes and sounds that invade the listeners sub-conscious and remain there long after the music has ceased playing. IN SILENTIO is made up of various movements, of which there are ten in total. ON THE FIRST DAY, METAMORPHOSE, IN SILENTIO, ATONEMENT, POUR L’ESPOIR, SOLO IN MUNDO, SCHATTENSPIEL, SILEO, UNKNOWN DESTINATION and RESSURECTION. Highly recommended.
STAN AND OLLIE, I thought was a brilliant movie, it deserved more Awards than it ended up garnering during Awards season. It is a faithful account I think of how it was when the comedy duo arrived on England’s shores towards the end of their career. The musical score is by the talented and brilliantly gifted composer Rolfe Kent, he has provided the movie with a wonderfully lyrical and highly emotive and beautifully poignant soundtrack. Kent has this knack of creating simple but effective melodies and these superbly underline and support the action, drama, comedy or romance on screen, STAN AND OLLIE is certainly no exception to the rule. The composer has fashioned an eloquent and delicate score which not only enhances and brings greater dimension and emotion to the proceedings, but is also a joy to listen to away from the images and scenarios. In many ways the score is at times Barry-esque but of course Kent’s own musical identity and persona shines through. The work is fully symphonic with woods and piano at times taking centre stage, it is filled with an air of melancholy throughout but also contains moments which are either comedy infused or at times sombre and serious. The themes are glorious and haunting and contain fragile and lilting melodies, which linger with the listener long after they have finished playing, it is a triumph of a work, On listening to the soundtrack, I returned to the beginning straight away and repeated it, it is one of those scores that you will return to numerous times and on each outing will discover something fresh and new, this is one for your collection, a must have item.
Released in 1969 HATE IS MY GOD or to give it its Italian title L’ODIO E IL MIO DIO was an interesting example of the Spaghetti western genre, the director Claudio Gora, produced a movie that was at times a little confusing and maybe somewhat dis-jointed in the opinions of many. From my own perspective I would say that I found it interesting in the fact that even at this stage in the entire genres development the film was something of an oddity in a collection of movies that themselves were looked upon as being quirky and offbeat by certain sectors of the motion picture fraternity. But, as always being within the genre of the Italian or Spaghetti western L’ODIO E IL MIO DIO was innovative and a movie that made people stop and think. I think that the graphic violence and the over the top dramatics that were employed at times made it an example of the genre that followers loved to hate. Right from the offset in the pre titles sequence the director relies on violent action to grab the audience’s attention. We see a hanging in front of women and young children and see the act through the eyes of a young boy, who we discover later is the Brother of the man who is brutally beaten and then hanged and left to be picked at by vultures. It’s a tale of revenge as in so many Italian westerns thet were produced in the mid to late 1960’s with the young boy returning wen he is an adult to avenge the murder of his sibling. As with all Italian westerns the musical score is always a component that plays a large part within the movie.
The score is the work of actor, singer. performer and composer Pippo Franco, I do remember buying the LP record back in the early 1970’s on CAM and it was actually the B side with the A side of the album containing HIS NAME CRIED VENGEANCE by Robby Poitevin. It was initially the art work that drew me to the release, as it was rather striking, and I pleased to say has been utilised for the compact disc release. Of course, being on a double soundtrack release LP there was limited space for the music and Franco’s score was cut down to just eight cues which open the CD release but with this latest issue on Penta music we are treated to no less than thirty three cues, the sound quality is excellent and the music is far better than I remember, the composer providing the movie with an inventive and bouncy soundtrack which encompasses many styles and is a collection of themes and vocals that will keep its listener entertained. There is amongst the jaunty themes and dramatic interludes and somewhat oddball vocals performed by Franco himself a sound and style that we all now identify with that of the Italian western I would not say that this is what one would normally expect when listening to Spaghetti western music, However, there are a number of stock sounds within the parameters of the soundtrack, banjo, organ, saloon piano, percussive elements, bells, jazzy ragtime sounding numbers, harpsichord, strumming guitars, jaws harp, and again those interesting songs, which pop up throughout in various guises and arrangements (shades of De Angelis).
The score was conducted by Stelvio Cipriani and at times one can hear hints of this composers’ influences. There is also present echoing percussion which was something that Francesco de Masi employed on occasion within his scores for westerns and other types of movies, but an example of this sound is demonstrated in QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST to name but one. When listening to the score if you know your Italian western soundtracks you will undoubtably draw comparisons between Franco’s music and that of Fidenco, Piccioni and Ferrio at times. The scores central theme is a haunting one, and again is presented in a number of arrangements, one being a vocal version and another having the banjo lead replaced by a Once Upon A time in the West fuzzy guitar effect. Pippo Franco I have to say did an admirable job for L’ODIO E IL MIO DIO, and it is a soundtrack that I know I will be returning to often. The release has great art work and contains admirable and informative sleeve notes, which is something that is a must for a release of a score such as this, because not everyone will be familiar with the movie. It is a gem of a release and one that every self-respecting Spaghetti fan should own.
Since the release of his music for the movie REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Clint Mansell has become a much sought-after composer, performer and arranger. Mansell was born on January 7th, 1963 in Coventry England. His film scores are mostly created via electronic or synthetic means, but Mansell has the unique ability to create beautiful and heartfelt rich themeatic compositions using synthetics which is a rare talent. He first became noticed during the 1980’s when he was a member of the band POP WILL EAT ITSELF, he would take on the role of vocalist and guitarist and had a vital role in the creation of the bands innovative and highly unique sound and style. It was in 1998 when Mansell’s long-time friend Darren Aronofsky asked the musician to write the score for a thriller entitled Pi.
In the end Mansell contributed just three of his own pieces to the movies soundtrack and went onto to select other musical cues to support the movie, but this was enough to place him on the radar of numerous filmmakers all of whom wanted his unique talent to enhance their movies. Two years later Mansell and Aronofsky collaborated once again for REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Both the film and its highly atmospheric score were a major success. With the composer utilising The Kronos Quartet to purvey his visionary style and sound. This was a landmark score for Mansell, and he became an in-demand commodity after this, working on many movies that were sadly not deserving of his ample talents. In recent years his stand out soundtracks include BLACK SWAN, HIGH RISE, MOON, ABANDON, SAHARA and one of his latest OUT OF THE BLUE.
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