There will I am sure be something of interest in the following potted reviews for everyone. This time TV shows dominate the supplement with handful of film scores, such as EMMA by Isobel Waller Bridge and the somewhat disappointing soundtrack to TENET by Ludwig Goranssan, plus a couple of scores that have recently been made available although were composed a few years ago.
So, to TENET. This is latest offering from director Christopher Nolan, and sadly because of other commitments his almost resident composer Hans Zimmer was unable to work on the project. Zimmer and Nolan have a great collaboration, with Zimmer’s scores often becoming the driving force behind the many action sequences in movies such as THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to name but two. Composer Ludwig Goranssan landed the assignment, and this was something I was pleased about when I heard, I am a fan of Goranssan’s innovative score for THE BLACK PANTHER and also the work he did on CREED which was fresh and original but at the same time managed to be in keeping with the original ROCKY scores as fashioned by composer Bill Conti. He has also been industrious recently for Disney on the series THE MANDALORIAN. Did I enjoy TENET, well I have to be honest here and say no not really, I found it to synthetic, there was not enough of what I would refer to as conventional instrumentation, even if this is used as a sparingly scattered back up of the electronics, and to be completely truthful the majority of the score grated upon me and I am of the opinion that this is a noisy mess. A mish mash of sounds that barely resemble music. I am a critic of Zimmer you all know this, but even he when utilising electronics and synthetics laces these with some symphonic support or at least lets the symphonic lead the synthetic allowing it to build and breathe.
I try to see good things in every score I listen to, but TENET is certainly not a title I will be returning to in a hurry. But, and yes, there is always a but, the sounds created by Goranssan work for the movie so that’s the idea, its music or soundscape for film and if it works with the images then its done its job. But as for it being an entertaining listening experience, it is not. In a recent interview I think Goranssan commented he attempted to emulate Hans Zimmer on TENET, why? Surely do a Goranssan, that’s what we wanted to hear.
Moving on and too a movie that has not yet been released, it is a new adaptation of THE SECRET GARDEN. It has a score by Dario Marianelli, who recently scored PINOCCHIO, Marianelli is I think one of the most gifted composers in the world of movie music. His soundtrack for ATTONEMENT was received well and won him an arm full of awards. His delicately eloquent and beguiling score for this latest version of THE SECRET GARDEN is certainly one that many film music fans will fall in love with, it has to it a fragility and a vitality all at the same time. The composer makes effective use of solo piano and the string section, which is enhanced by woodwind and harp, it is a delightful work, thematic and haunting in every way. It is a score that you can listen through and then re-visit a while later and discover so many new things that you were not aware of first time around. I know this probably sounds wierd but the music sounds English as in it has to it a style and sound that would have been employed by the likes of Richard Rodney Bennet or maybe Howard Blake and Chris Gunning when they were busy scoring movies. This is entertaining and alluring, beautifully crafted and recommended.
So to a score that was released a few years back and those lovely people at Varese Sarabande have re issued with so much extra music, WILD WILD WEST has a score by composer Elmer Bernstein, the film I don’t think did that well at the cinema, and the score seemed to vanish quite quickly so it is good to see it back out and available again, it contains what I would call a typical Bernstein score, big on thematic material, and also having to it a robust and powerful musical quality that contains various Bernstein musical trademarks, with the central theme being one of the stand out cues on the recording.
The iconic TV series DR.WHO, never seems to lose pace or viewers, yes there were a few hiccups recently when the DR. turned up as a female in the guise of the brilliant actor Jody Whittaker, but after the initial “I AM NOT WATCHING THIS EVER AGAIN” rants its all good, and I think she is pretty awesome in the role. The composer on the series also changed in series 11, again a few were saying it wont be the same etc, but in effect Segun Akinola has succeeded in transforming the musical path and the sound of the series, with his highly creative and innovative writing.
Don’t get me wrong I loved what Murray Gold did, but both series 11 and 12 have been totally gripping in the music department, with composer Akinola fashioning epic sounding scores, that not only enhance and support the constant action but are great to hear away from the series as just dramatic and melodic music. Listening to both recordings I do not think that there is a track I would want to skip over, as each and every piece is interesting and wonderfully entertaining. You should check these two recordings out you will not be sorry.
Ruth Barret is a composer that I discovered via her music for the ITV series VICTORIA, and since then have always kept an eye and ear open for anything by her, THE DURRELS I thought was a triumph, and her work on THE BODYGUARD too was thickly atmospheric. She also scored the Netflix movie COLLATERAL which contained an affecting soundtrack, which at times was understated but because of this became even more effective within the movie. SANDITON was a series I must say I did not enjoy that much, but the musical score was outstanding, in fact I would go as far as to say I enjoyed the music far more than the series, the composer has a light and delicate touch for the series but also includes a number of traditional or folk sounding pieces, which are interesting, having an up-beat musical persona to them. One to check out try it on Spotify and try before you buy as it were.
Staying with TV but this time for an American TV sho, MRS AMERICA. Music is courtesy of Kris Bowers whose music for the drama WHEN THEY SEE US is superb, it was WHEN THEY SEE US that first alerted me to the talents of Kris Bowers and I have followed with interest his career. MRS AMERICA has done well on TV its one of those series that once you see one episode you want more and all of them on the same night. Cate Blanchett is totally suited to the role of Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly who leads an unexpected fight against the Equal Rights Amendment movement during the 1970s. Bowers music is superbly written and also intelligently placed to create maximum impact and effect. Again, check it out.
SUCCESSION is an HBO series, which has a score by composer Nicholas Brittel, what can I say well its now into its second season, and the music is sublime, theres only one thing to say here go and buy it. It is filled to bursting with so many wonderful themes, most of which are classically oriented, but its like listening to a best of album because every track has to it an excellence and a haunting aura present. The composer utilises solo piano, string orchestra and cello to create this lyrical sounding score. Another for your collection. VERA is another popular TV series, I have to admit to being a bit of a VERA holic, don’t care if it’s a repeat or not just find that I have to watch it. I think there are a few reasons why, but one of them is the musical score by Ben Bartlett, I always found the music for the series attractive right from the get-go.
There is for me in places a certain Barry-esque ambience present. Bartlett uses those breathy woods and the low but melodic sounding strings, to create layers of sounds and purveys so many musical colours and textures within his scores for this series. There is too the subtle but menacing persona that surrounds many of the cues which evokes the work of Bernard Herrmann at times, these are inventive scores, scores that rely upon a style and sound that is subtle rather than full on action or dark and foreboding, like the central character the music is mature and intelligent. There may not be that many themes within the scores, or at least not that many are allowed to develop but these scores are more than interesting for me, I love the minimalistic approach of the composer, who rather than swamp a scene hints at themes and lays down a soundscape that gives support and depth to the storyline. A mix of symphonic instrumentation and support from synthetic elements certainly one to go for. Available on Spotify and other digital platforms.
EMMA by Isobel Waller-Bridge is a soundtrack that I would say you have to add to your collection, entertaining, melodic, jaunty and filled with an air of comedic carefree mischief. The soundtrack also includes a number of songs, which too add to the entertainment value of the work. The composer treats us to so many fine themes, that are like musical poems filled with elegance and a haunting persona.
Other scores that I would recommend that you take a listen to include, Jerry Goldsmiths THE DON IS DEAD, PETS UNITED by David Newman, Maxime Herve’s SPACE HULK-TACTICS, TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY-SIEGE by Alexander Bornstein, and the atmospheric but disturbing VOCES by Jesus Diaz.