In recent years the Caldera records label has become a name that is associated with quality film music and also worthwhile releases of film scores onto CD. One of their latest releases contains two scores from movies that I would say are not necessarily well known, but nevertheless we all know that even if a movie is not known it can and nearly always does contain a score that is surprisingly innovative and entertaining. The release contains two scores from the 1970’s by composer Dwight Gustafson, FLAME IN THE WIND (1971) and SHEFFEY (1977). Both scores although penned by same composer follow different stylistic paths. The first FLAME IN THE WIND I think is the more epic sounding, in fact at times I was reminded of the style and sound of the Italian made Peplum movies, the composer utilising brass, percussion and strings to great effect, it is I suppose epic sounding because of the time period in which it is set, which is during the Spanish inquisition. It has to it a proud musical persona, the composer fashioning wonderfully thematic pieces that are filled with fanfares and sweeping thematic properties. The score consists of three central themes on which Gustafson builds his score, each of the themes re-cur throughout the film and are presented in varying arrangements. For me the sound achieved evoked memories of the music of Angelo Francesco Lavagnino and his fellow Italian Maestro, Giuseppe Mule, who scored a handful of movies during the 1940’s plus wrote extensively for the concert hall. It is a score that purveys a tense and tormented atmosphere, which is well suited to the movie, as its plot focuses upon a young man who is torn between following the Bible and conforming to the religious tradition that is being enforced by the inquisition. Performed by the Bob Jones University orchestra which was made up mainly of students, it is a work that is interesting and entertaining.
Both FLAME IN THE WIND and SHEFFEY were produced by Unusual Film which were associated with the Bob Jones University, both scores were released on LP records again on a label associated with the University. SHEFFEY was a more ambitious movie and called for a larger or grander sounding musical score, the composer again employing brass and strings as the core instrumentation. The score on this movie was more melodious in my opinion, the composer interweaving various folk tunes into the fabric of the score to give the movie a more authentic feel. The composer created expansive sounding themes based upon these traditional pieces and elevated them to suit the mood of the movie. It contained an intimacy and fragility that also purveyed a sense of melancholy. Robert Sheffey was Methodist evangelist, born in 1820, He dedicated his life to the less fortunate and the needy. He would preach the word of God whilst travelling through Virginia and Tennessee. The film called for a score that was melodic and affecting which the composer succeeded in providing fashioning a rich and at times lush sounding work that is more akin to the sound and style of Hollywood films scores by the likes of Newman and Steiner.
Born in 1930, and by the time he was 24 (1954), Gustafson was the acting Dean of the Bob Jones University School of Fine Arts. Where he taught, composed music and conducted the orchestra. He remained in the post until 1997, when he retired. He passed away on 28th January 2014. This is an essential purchase for any lover of quality film music, an unusual but welcomed release, it is the 35th soundtrack CD to be issued by the Caldera label. Well worth adding to your collection.