WENDY.

This year has shall we say not been the best has it, although saying that there have been a number of great soundtracks released, and composers who I had not heard of before the Covid 19 pandemic have certainly come into their own and produced some wonderful scores for both film and TV. Sadly some of the films that have been scored are still to be released because of the current restrictions, but luckily a number of the scores  have made it to either CD, LP or digital sites. A movie that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and was released later in February is WENDY, it is as you might have guessed a unique and quite dark take on the story of Peter Pan, but I wont spoil it because hopefully you will want to check it out on the big screen when we can again, which I hope wont be that long. The inventive and alluring score is the work of composers Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, (Zeitlin is the director of the movie) yes you have heard the name Dan Romer before, he was supposed to score the new James Bond movie but was replaced by Hans Zimmer, in my opinion a mistake, but what do I know, I think Romer would have brought something new, vibrant and fresh to the franchise, but like I say what do I know and who am I ?

The score for WENDY contains all the freshness and vibrancy that I thought the composer would add to 007, there is an originality and also an inventive and mesmerising vibe to this work, at times the music is simple and just washes over the listener but on other occasions it becomes quite complex and involved, but it still works and still remains interesting and leaving the listener craving more. The story of WENDY is as I say a take on Peter Pan but not like we know the character, there are a number of dark and unsettling moments, but the movie will I hope be well received if it is released in theatres, if not then we must look out for the blu-ray or DVD in stores.

Zeitlin.

I listened to the score on Spotify, it is licenced by Sony so I would think there could be a physical CD release, but t the moment it looks like this will not be happening. This is a wonderfully varied score, the composer utilising an array of percussion to create up-beat and rhythmic passages, there are interludes within the score that are melodic and filled with melancholy, but for the majority of its running time I found the music to be more active and action led if that is the correct way to describe it, the composer utilises conventional symphonic instrumentation and fuses this with electronic and synthetic textures to create some beguiling and haunting moments within the score. I found myself returning to the score a few times to fully take in and appreciate this work. The cue NEVER GROW UP I think is again simple but so effective and affecting as it builds and gathers momentum and pace, it has to it a determination and a positivity that just attracts and impresses. This style and atmosphere also manifests itself in WHERE LOST BOYS GO and WANT TO FLY, the latter being a favourite of mine underlined with dramatic and fast paced percussion, brass flourishes and driving edgy strings that maintain a tense and robust mood throughout. The remainder of the score too is impressive and it is a triumph of a soundtrack that I recommend you check out a.s.a.p. Its one of the surprises of 2020 and a pleasant one for a change. Go listen.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT TWENTY EIGHT.

Welcome to another soundtrack supplement, I trust everyone is well and listening to film music. In this latest edition of soundtrack supplement, I am including a handful of scores that I think are worthy of a mention but are maybe a little bit thin on the ground and also maybe you might have overlooked. Also I will be including a section on Bruno Nicolai, and the availability of some of his scores that were originally released on the EDI PAN label in Italy from the late 1960’s through to the 1980’s. But we start with the more recent additions to the soundtrack arena.

AMMONITE is set in the England of the 1840’s, it focuses upon a fossil hunter Mary Anning who is portrayed convincingly by Kate Winslet. Her character is something of a recluse and works alone on the south coast of England, she had found recognition and fame of a sort years before via her many discoveries, but that is now all in her past. To make a living she searches for more common fossils to sell to tourists so she can live and also to make provision for her Mother who is ill. When a wealthy tourist asks Mary to look after his wife Charlotte played by Saoirse Ronan, the fossil hunter cannot afford to turn him down. But although their relationship is at first a little stormy, the two women are slowly drawn to each other and their friendship blossoms, leading both of them to decide what is the true depth and nature of their relationship. The subtle and haunting musical score is the work of Dustin Halloran and Volker Bertelmann, this winning composing duo have produced so many scores for TV and film over the past few years, all of which have been affecting as well as entertaining. AMMONITE is certainly no exception, the score containing understated yet beautifully powerful pieces, with the composers combining piano with slight and underlining strings, that purvey a sense of fragility throughout the work. The opening track FOSSILS is a wonderfully delicate and calming opening to the score. Solo piano that is at times laced with touching strings. The remainder of the score too has to it a calming and melodic air, the music being gracious and eloquent. The use of cello is so effective and adds to the work melancholy and emotive levels. Recommended. To Television next and Dominik Scherrer’s quirky and jaunty music for the series of MiISS MARPLE, I don’t know about you but as soon as I hear Miss Marple I instantly think of Ron Goodwin? This score however is not Ron Goodwin in any way style or form, in fact this is a polished and shall we say highly melodious score, whereas Goodwin’s Marple scores were somewhat comedic and upbeat in places. Scherrer has created a beautifully thematic work, with lilting interludes that ooze sophistication.  This is just a selection of the music from the series, but it is an entertaining representation of the composer’s music for the series.  Again, recommended.  

COME AWAY is I suppose a film that can be described as a fairy tale mash up, or even Peter Pan meets Alice in Wonderland. So, with that in mind and with composer John Debney on board it is a given that this is an enchanting movie and one that has a beautiful and magical sounding soundtrack. If I say that I love this score, I know you will realise just how magical and mystical this music is, it is filled with so many emotions and evokes for me the music of the late James Horner in places with Casper being uppermost in my mind, this enchantingly wonderous score transports the listener too far off lands, such as Neverland and Wonderland plus to places that one could only imagine to exist. Debney provides the movie with a poignant and moving soundtrack, romantic, sweeping and delicate are the words best used to describe this unrelenting work that is emotive, beguiling and affecting. The score is fully symphonic, and the composer employs choir and solo voice on occasion which fashion mesmerising atmospheres and create transfixing musical moods throughout.  

Debney has been busy of late and provided a vibrant soundtrack for the Netflix show, JINGLE JANGLE at this time there is only a near four minute suite of the music he penned on the soundtrack release which contains mainly vocals from the show by the likes of Ricky Martin, Forest Whitaker, and Usher. But hopefully there might be a score album on the horizon, because Debney is certainly back on form.  

THE LIFE AHEAD or to give it the original Italian title LA VITA DAVANTI, is an emotive movie, that brings Sophia Loren back to the screen, the movie which is scored by Gabriel Yared, is stunning to look at, the photography creating a warm and glowing aura for much of the films duration. Loren is as always stunning to look at and in this a challenging role where she portrays the character, Madame Rosa. Directed by Edoardo Ponti, yes that’s right Ponti, Sophia’s son. The musical score is a perfectly gracious and poignant accompaniment to this highly emotional tale,  its not all about poignancy and subtle thematic properties however, there are a handful of up beat more contemporary hip hop infused tracks scattered throughout, but it is the romantic and touching musical poems that impress and attract. Yared, is such an underatted composer, but on this occasion I think maybe he will get the notice and credit that he so richly deserves, his score is supportive but never invades the story line or overshadows the action on screen, recommended. Game soundtracks seem to domineer the releases market of late, which is not a bad thing because it means that orchestral/instrumental scores are reaching a younger generation.

There have been a few recent examples that stand out, CALL OF DUTY, BLACK OPS-COLD WAR by Jack Wall being one of these. This is powerful stuff, which includes choral work, driving strings and brass flourishes, with relentless percussive accompaniment. It’s definitely an action-packed work and listening to the score made me want to check out the game until I realised, I did not have anything to play it on. It’s a score that has many stylistic attributes, ther are for the majority of its running time the action laced pieces which drive onwards and upwards, but there are also a few and I say a few, quieter moments, and occasionally pop sounding cues, that weave in and out of the proceedings, but even these seem to contain a modicum of action led material. GODFALL is another game score that is overflowing with a commanding musical persona, proud and strident, this is certainly one to add to the collection, music is courtesy of composer, Ben MacDougall. Again, it is filled to the brim with rich and powerful thematic material, maybe this is the way things are going in film music, because these game scores are probably at times more vibrant and entertaining than some feature film scores that are doing the rounds these days.

Well if the music is good, I will buy it, that is all I am going to say. And this is good, go check it out on digital platforms. Staying with game scores,  MARVELS SPIDER MAN:MILES MORALES has a score written by composer  John Paesano and once again it’s a yes from MMI for this video game score, it is a robust and totally consuming action score, it is a fusion of both symphonic and synthetic, choral interludes and proud anthem like themes which remain with the listener long after the score has stopped playing.

Another one you should own, no doubt about it. Other game scores of note include the dark and pulsating PRODEUS by Andrew Hulshult, and the interesting and up beat and driving music for XIII by Lionel Gaget which sounds more like the music from a 1970’s cop thriller or blaxploitation movie, think STILETTO meets SHAFT.

With the popularity of vinyl growing it seems week by week, and collectors of all genres of music returning to the beloved LP format, I had a conversation with a friend and he recounted the LPS that composer Bruno Nicolai released on the EDI PAN label back in the 1970’s, most of these were of course soundtrack related, but others did focus upon non film music projects that the composer hade either written or had acted as conductor upon. The friend then sent me pictures of the cover art for a handful of these, and the memories literally came flooding back.

The label was to say the least an interesting one, its catalogue boasting so many diverse titles, from feature films, documentaries and also studio albums that the composer had compiled for release. In those days I don’t think soundtrack collectors really cared if it was a soundtrack or not and at times this was not made that clear by the label, but it was music by Nicolai that they had not got and that was good enough for them. I have to say at the time of the release of many of these albums, I did not buy  them and it has always been something I regrated, as I later became a great admirer of the work of Nicolai. However, a few were issued onto compact disc, but these titles were merely a drop in the ocean compared with the titles that remained in the EDI PAN catalogue, and some even today have not seen the light of day either on CD or digitally.

One score that I was always attracted to was L’ARMA MERAVIGLIOSA (THE WONDERFUL WEAPON) which was released in 1978.  I am informed that this is a documentary or docu-drama. but do not set that in stone as I am still not certain. The soundtrack was issued on a double LP set on the EDI PAN label but distributed by Gemellil, it had a gatefold cover, with some really strange art work on the front cover, all I know is the music was outstanding and it is a surprise to me and other Nicolai fans that this has never been re-issued onto vinyl or CD many stalwart collectors having to be contented with a LP transfer CDR. It is a score that oozes the classy and charismatic style of the composer, with a plethora of thematic pieces that range from ancient sounding compositions, baroque, up tempo almost lounge sounding material to traditional Italian vocal performances.

 I remember getting this at the same time as L’ALPIN I’E SEMPRE QUEL also distributed by Gemelli. GERMINUS was a soundtrack that Gemelli also distributed for Nicolai’s label and this was issued back in 1969, but thankfully this has seen the light of day on compact disc.

There seem to be so many EDI PAN albums that are just crying out for a re-issue and I am sure that fans of all Italian film music would be willing to part with their hard earned cash to add them to their soundtrack collection. There are a few in the pipeline we are told, but when these will surface is still not yet confirmed. Let us hope that Nicolai finally gets the recognition that he so richly deserves, and with new companies such as FOUR FLIES, and already established labels such as ALL SCORE, KRONOS, BEAT, and their like we will eventually get to listen to the works of this sadly underatted and greatly ignored Maestro.

It beggars the question why are some scores released and others left to gather dust in the vaults of record labels, I suppose it is all down to finances in the end, will the score sell? Will it be of interest to a wider audience and not just fans of a particular composer? 

This I suppose has to be taken into account, and the record companies who are considering the release have to really focus upon, I have always said why don’t the record companies ask the fans? Its logical surely, (don’t call me Shirley) sorry could not resist. Put it out there on the dreaded social media (include a list of titles) what one or two would you say are of interest, simple really isn’t it? Gather the feedback and issue the one with the most interest. Press 300 or 500 items and see what happens, then move to the next one and etc etc. But I digress, what I am saying is there are so many great scores that remain unreleased from Italian productions and I am sure this can also be said for other countries, so instead of re-issuing soundtracks for the third, fourth or even fifth time, do something that has languished in the crypt of forgotten soundtracks for an age, bring it back to life, and share it with the world. Italian label Contempo issued LA STRAGE DEI VAMPIRI by composer Aldo Piga in 2015 which was a popular release, Why? Well because it is not only an excellent score, but it had never and I mean never been issued before,

Contempo also re-issued the Neil Richardson conducted MUSIC FOR DRACULA in 2016, with music by composer James Bernard, in a 2 LP set, which Silva screen had originally released on LP in 1989 and presented it in a gatefold luxury edition, before committing it to various CD incarnations which after a while became kind of “OH ITS THAT AGAIN”.

Both re-issues are long deleted, so we live in hope for a re-pressing or maybe a CD release in the future, especially of the Piga masterpiece.

Back to CD releases and some that you could have missed if you blinked a few years back and more recently. AN AMERICAN TAIL and THE LAND BEFORE TIME by the much-missed Maestro James Horner have both been given expanded editions and both scores are superb. Horner excelled in every genre but with these two animated features he certainly managed to create an abundance of beautiful music, heart warming and dramatic these scores are wonderful examples of this gifted mans talent. AN AMERICAN TAIL for me has the edge, why I do not know? But, I just warm to this score each time I hear it, maybe it has something to do with watching it with my daughter when she was nine I guess, and especially at this time of the year leading up to Christmas. The score is hauntingly beautiful the songs entertaining and also funny and emotional. SOMEWHERE OUT THERE in my mind being more affecting than the TITANIC title song, outstripping it  both emotionally and musically.

 I remember playing the song one night at a function where I was dj’ing the people loved it, not a dry eye at the end. His score for this Don Bluth classic animated feature, is too classic Horner, with its sweeping themes and its haunting melodies. Even if you have the original LP or CD please go check this out.

THE LAND BEFORE TIME is written  in much the same way as AN AMERICAN TAIL, it again is classic Horner, the composer combining comedic with romantic and dramatic, fusing intimate themes with urgent and highly powerful pieces, plus it contains another great title song IF WE HOLD ON TOGETHER performed by Motown Queen Diana Ross. Also, with these two scores more than any others I feel that the composer was successful in establishing his distinct and distinguished sound.

All we need now is an expanded WILLOW. Back to the 1970’s for the next soundtrack and French composer who has written literally of film and TV scores,

Vladimir Cosma, is possibly one of the busiest film music composers in Europe or at least he was. He has released the majority of his scores and also has had numerous compilations of his music issued on CD and now digitally on sites such as Spotify and I tunes. L’AFFAIRE CRAZY CAPO  was released in 1973, directed by Patrick Jamain it featured the acting talents of Maurice Ronet, Jean Frere Marielle and Jean Servais, and is a Mafia type cop thriller, the music is hard hitting and also up beat with the composer utilising dark sounding piano and strings laced with brass and percussion to fashion a hard hitting soundtrack that takes its lead from the likes of Nicolai, Ferrio and Cipriani. Possibly one of Cosma’s most dramatic and effective soundtracks, it was issued onto CD by CAM records in 1992 as part of their now famous Soundtrack Encyclopaedia.

To 1976 for the next soundtrack, Lipstick is an American rape and revenge thriller movie, directed by Lamont johnson and starring Margaux  Hemingway, Chris Sarandon , and Anne Bancroft. Mariel Hemingway also has a supporting role as Margaux‘s onscreen sister. The score was by French pop artist composer performer, Michel Polnareff, with the title track being released on a single in 1976 and charting in France, USA and the UK, and becoming a massive disco hit. The theme is very much disco orientated, but the remainder of the score is symphonic, the composer utilising solo piano and woods that are underlined by strings and given further depth by the utilisation of sol cello. The album which was issued on Atlantic records on CD as well as originally on LP is divided into four sections, with two lengthy cues and also two shorter tracks one of which is the central theme.

The composer does turn to electronic instrumentation in track number three THE RAPIST, which is a rather tormenting and annoying piece, that spills over into track number four which is entitled, BALLET, both of these I thought had shades of Giallo soundtracks that were popular in Italy at the same time. THE LIPSTICK MONTAGE however is a wonderfully lyrical cue that has a running time of around thirteen minutes, the lilting and haunting performances do alter mid-way through and the composer introduces a more up beat style, turning to a dramatic style that is performed by a combination of conventional and electronic mediums and again manifests a sound that is not dissimilar to that of a handful of Italian composers from the same era. If you missed this one check it out on digital platforms, certainly worth a listen, also another Polnareff to look out for is LA FOLLIE DES GRANDUER, which is a great work, and has a Spaghetti western style theme to open it, plus a beautiful love theme. The film, which was directed by Gerard Oury starred Yves Montand, the soundtrack was issued by Universal France as part of the LISTEN TO THE CINEMA SERIES.  

The most recent work from Michael Giacchino LET HIM GO, is worth a listen, if that is you can stand the track titles, like his other scores Giacchino names the tracks with a tongue in cheek title, this time they are particularly cringe worthy, but its lucky the music is good.  This nothing like the bombastic or big sweeping Giacchino that we know and love, this is an intelligent and mature work, filled with poignant melodies and emotive musical interludes, it is a delicate and intimate sounding score, that relies upon guitar and strings, which underline and support the solo guitar performances with a subtle and sensitive air, As I say worth a listen.

SOUNDTRACKS ON VINYL, ARE ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN ROME.

I recently started the review column LONG PLAY here on movie music international. Which is dedicated to soundtracks that are released onto vinyl. The re-emergence of the LP record and also the single is for many not a surprise because it was a format of recording that was lamented by many when recording labels decided to stop producing them and switch to the compact disc, but with the sales of CD.s declining and listeners opting for downloads and streaming, it was obvious that the long playing record would at some time surface again. I don’t think that labels saw that this would be a format that would become so popular once again in such a short space of times and soundtracks are now being produced and pressed in the vinyl format only in many cases. I for one welcome the LP and dusted off my trusty Technics deck and returned to my collection of vinyl that has I am ashamed to say been neglected, what is it about vinyl? Well I think it’s the actual feel of it, the cover art and also the sleeve notes on the back of the cover or inside in booklet form and even at times the smell of the vinyl. There have been a number of film scores issued onto the LP format in recent months, and it’s a funny thing because many labels used to say “NEVER BEFORE AVAILABLE ON COMPACT DISC”, but now in some cases it’s often “NEVER BEFORE AVAILABLE ON VINYL”, that we are being told, which is rather ironic.

When the CD was introduced collectors all rushed out to re-purchase many of the soundtracks that they already owned on LP, mainly to see what they sounded like in the new pristine sound that was promised by many a label. I did it, you did it, of course you did, we were all curious and things I think got out of hand, I re-purchased my entire collection of soundtracks that I had on record when they became available that is, some did not and still have not been re-issued and now because of the resurgence of the LP record I don’t think they will be, or at least the majority of them will not. The compact disc served its purpose and yes it’s a format that will be around for a while still, but I do not think anything can beat the sight of a brand new sealed LP record with great art work, rather than the small jewel case presentation of the CD and those sleeve notes and credits that we have to use a magnifying glass to read. Like I say there have been many soundtracks issued on LP records, these coming from the likes of VARESE SARABANDE in the States, BEAT in Italy, and ALL SCORE in Germany to name but three. However, one label that caught my eye is the Italian company FOUR FLIES, the name I think being a nod to maybe the Dario Argento movie FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET as scored by Ennio Morricone, looking at the Four Flies website, is like looking into a treasure trove of wonderful Italian film soundtracks, it is like stepping back in time discovering the eclectic and innovative world of Italian film music all over again.   

It is an Independent label based in the Italian capital which dedicates itself to the discovery of the finest film music gems, and also other genres of music. Its focus is however to re-introduce many of the soundtracks that were synonymous with Italian cinema from the decade of the fifties through to the eighties. The label has been relentless in their search for soundtracks that have maybe laid in warehouses and have been archived and forgotten, until now that is. They have discovered lost classics and missing parts of scores by composers such as,  Alessandro Alessandroni, Piero Umiliani, Giuliano Sorgini, Silvano D’Auria, and by doing this have not only reignited the interest in the music of these composers, but also have introduced it afresh to a whole new generation.

In recent weeks the label have also started to produce again, the 7 and 12 inch singles format which have already become popular with disc jockeys who specialise in hip-hop, acid jazz, funk and disco. Also, composers such as Gianni Ferrio, Franco Micalizzi, Lallo Gori, Nora Orlandi, Armando Trovajoli, Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, Riz Ortolani, Luciano Michelini, Luis Enriquez Bacalov, Bruno Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani and Nico Fidenco to mention just a few names on the labels impressive catalogue list.

There are a wide range of soundtracks available from the Four Flies website, and in some cases there is a compact disc alternative, but why buy the CD when the LP’s are available with such vibrant and attractive art work, when you can own touch and smell these treasures on vinyl. In a relatively short period of time the label has built a formidable catalogue that will I know be appealing to any Italian film music connoisseur.  Check it out, spoil yourself, it is a feast of classic Italian film music by iconic Maestro’s and artists.

https://www.fourfliesrecords.com/catalogue/

THE SHEPHERD.

COMING SOON FROM KRONOS RECORDS.

THE SHEPHERD.

(sleeve notes for the release).

By John Mansell© 2020. MMI.

THE COMPOSER. 

An accomplished, musician, orchestrator and composer Arthur Valentin Grosz was born in Hungary, he began to take an interest in music and started to play piano aged four years old. He also at this time started to create short compositions, he went on to receive a master’s degree in composition and teaching at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. His first recordings were studio albums where the composer created music that was looked upon as a fusion of the styles of both Vangelis and Kitaro. This style is more prevalent in his first album entitled THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN DEER which was released in 2001. He went onto release two more studio albums MISSIO and MISSIO ll. Which were a mix of Gregorian chant and pop infused styles. The popularity of the recordings led to the composer becoming involved with film scoring, his first assignment being in 2003, when he wrote the music for the movie CAPPRICIO, he has since then worked on numerous film scores and acted as arranger and orchestrator for other composers such as Andy Price on the UK TV series LAW AND ORDER. He has also worked with composers such as Patrick Doyle and Ennio Morricone.

THE FILM.

Directed by László Illés. THE SHEPHERD, features the acting talents of, Miklós Székely, Ákos Horváth, Tamás Jordán, and Jókai Ágnes. The movie is set in Hungary during the second world war, it is 1944, with the central character being an old shepherd, who lives alone on a farm. After his daughter is murdered by the Nazis and witnessing the horror of war close up, he decides in his grief and anger at the cruelty of the Germans to save as many Jewish lives as he possible can. The movie itself I feel tackles the subject of in each situation or scenario in times of war or disaster that there are always ordinary people who are prepared to help others and by doing so become extraordinary via their selfless actions. This is an emotive and gripping film, but is also a dark one, it opens in the calm of the countryside, with the central character of the shepherd taking his sheep to pasture, from the calm and serenity of his rural world we hear the sounds of war and conflict which are coming from a nearby woodland, the shepherd knows only too well these sounds and goes to investigate, he finds a young girl who has been raped and shot and is surrounded by dead bodies.

He tends to the girl and take her with him hoping he can save her life. The movie focuses upon the ravages and the pain of war but concentrates more upon the psychological effects felt by people rather than the physical. On watching the movie one does really become aware of the pain and the frustration of the characters involved, and their sadness and total devastation when they witness their loved ones being, assaulted, executed and abused by the cruel Nazi’s. The camera work is highly effective with scenes being filmed to display the actual pursuit or the desperate and sometimes unsuccessful attempts of individuals in their attempts to escape the unrelenting Nazi’s.

THE SCORE.

Arthur Valentin Grosz, has created a score that reflects the many emotions of the film’s storyline, it underlines only too well the sense of desperation, hopelessness and devastation felt by some of the characters and also supports and enhances the narrative of the film. The music is poignant and thematic in places with subtle and affecting musical interludes that become mesmerizing and haunting. The composer employs solo piano, cymbalom and a small string ensemble to fashion the score, he also utilises woodwind solos and violin to create an atmospheric and effective sound that works well with the images on screen and is just as appealing when listened to as just stand alone music, it has a folk sound about it, with interesting orchestration that makes it even more attractive. Giving a greater depth and adding a tense but hopeful persona to the proceedings. Although the score is at times low key, it still retains a powerful identity, with a driving and relentless heart at its core that radiates, ingratiates and provides a highly supportive background to the films harrowing storyline, it is mesmeric and alluring at times but remains darkly apprehensive.

John Mansell. Move Music International. (c) 2020.    


 

RELEASES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED.

Going back a few years for two Italian movies and two scores, both of which I have always thought have been rather neglected even though they are totally beguiling and filled with a plethora of rich romantic and vibrant themes. Both scores are by Allesso Vlad and Claudio Capponi. The first being JANE EYRE from 1996, directed by esteemed filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, which contains a highly emotive and at the same time tragic sounding soundtrack, fully symphonic and totally absorbing this is a work that will entice, mesmerize and envelope any listener. The fragile and delicate themes are touching and beautiful, with strings that swell and brass that underlines, woodwind that adds poignancy and a style and sound present that could be described as a Morricone/Preisner fusion. The melodies are haunting and all consuming, invading not just the listeners head but also making a lasting impression upon their heart and soul.  This is a score that evokes the romance of the golden age and purveys an eloquent and affecting style, with an impressive and sound that is an enriching and rewarding listen. There is a gentleness and a subtly to the work that is alluring, it possesses an aura that makes it impossible for any listener not to be transfixed by the lilting nuances and exquisite melodious content.  The same can be said of the music for TEA WITH MUSSOLINI which again was directed by Zeffirelli and released in 1999, again the score is by Vlad and Capponi with a further credit to Stephano Arnaldi. This is another score that is delicately beguiling and purveys so many emotions, with the composers colouring and adding texture to the attractive cinematography and engrossing storyline of the movie. The solo piano work on the score is outstanding and affectual. The themes are at times understated but remain effective and haunting. Again there are nods of acknowledgement to the style of Morricone and hints of the romanticism of bygone days as in the movies of the golden age as produced in Hollywood, lush and theme laden this is a work of quality, a score that oozes eloquence and majesty, in short recommended.

From Italian movies to a film that was produced in the States but told of the life of an Argentinian revolutionary.  CHE which is the biography of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who allied himself with Fidel Castro in his struggle against the corrupt Batista regime, eventually resulting in the overthrow of that government and Castro’s taking over of Cuba. The film covers Guevara’s life from when he first landed in Cuba in 1956 to his death in an ambush by government troops in the mountains of Bolivia in 1967. Directed by Richard Fleischer, the movie had a score by Lalo Shcifrin, who provided the movie with a score that was a combination of Latin flavoured compositions and full on symphonic dramatic pieces.

 

The soundtrack was first issued on a Polydor LP record back in 1969, and has since been issued on a compact disc with a number of extra cues, many of which  were not in the movie but have been inspired by the film and Schifrin’s score. There are a nice mix of styles presented on the more recent CD release, but I have to say I still prefer the original LP content. Nevertheless, the CD release is well worth a listen and if you have not heard it you are in for something of a treat, with Schifrin’s extremely dramatic cues standing out throughout. The expanded version with score and songs is available on digital platforms, highlight cues include, CHE ORCHESTRAL VERSION, LA RUTA, LA COLUMNA, EMBOSCADO, FIESTA NUMERO DOS, RECURDOS, CHARONGAS and a striking and emotion filled guitar solo of the films main title theme.

I remember buying the LP along with Z by Theodorakis and THE WILD BUNCH by Fielding those were the days. Talking of Jerry Fielding, now here is a composer who I still say is underatted, his Award winning score for THE WILD BUNCH was a milestone in his career, a score which I suppose you could say made him an overnight success, but in reality he had been around a few years before he worked on this ultra-violent western.

The soundtrack for THE WILD BUNCH was precise and affecting, which was displayed perfectly in the memorable opening credits sequence and also in the Assault on the train sequence. The soundtrack was on the Warner Bros seven arts label, when originally issued on LP and then later was released as an expanded edition by Screen Archives, there were also later releases to CD which had the same line up and content of the LP release. Fielding later scored STRAW DOGS which was again for director Sam Peckinpah.

In 1976 Fielding scored THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES another violent western directed by Clint Eastwood and his score is one that can be given the label of being a classic. Originally issued on a Warner Brothers LP record, the score was later released in full onto compact disc. Its rousing central theme for me evoked much of what the composer had begun in THE WILD BUNCH soundtrack, with martial sounding drums and pipes taking the lead, the remainder of the score was very action led, and also had to it a more apprehensive style, with sinewy sounding strings purveying a tense and nervous atmosphere within many of the scenes,  the movie itself running for over two hours, and like the score it is now an iconic example of western filmmaking.

Two scores which I have always liked are by composer Dusan Radic, GENGHIS KHAN and THE LONG SHIPS were both adventure epic slanted storylines, one supposedly a historical biog, which did I have to say fall a little flat in the sticking to the true events of the story. However, both were mildly successful at the box office, with the LONG SHIPS being shown regularly today on TV all over the world. The music for both films is epic driven, it is grand and imposing and filled with themes that are stirring and gloriously infectious. Both soundtracks were available on LP record when the movies were in cinemas, GENGHIS KHAN on Liberty and THE LONG SHIPS on Colpix, the latter becoming something of a rarity. Although THE LONG SHIPS theme is probably more memorable some saying it rivalled Mario Nascimbene’s VIKINGS theme, but the actual score for the movie was a little lack lustre,

GENGHIS KHAN however was a powerhouse of a soundtrack, fully symphonic with lavish themes and lush and romantic interludes a truly epic sounding work. Both the scores were issued onto compact disc on the same day on bootlegs in Germany alongside THE LAST VALLEY by John Barry. All three had quite good sound quality, but THE LONG SHIPS did suffer in this department. Which was thankfully rectified slightly when it was re-issued legitimately by Film Score Monthly a few years ago. GENGHIS KHAN starred Omar Sharif and Stephen Boyd, and had an impressive cast list that included, James Mason, Woody Strode, Eli Wallach, Michael Hordern, Robert Morley and Francoise Dorleac. Directed by Henry Levin the score was conducted by Muir Mathieson.

Considering the success of Radic’s scores for these two movies, there is very little information about him readily available, we do know that he did work on other film scores but only in Eastern Europe working with director Andrzej Wajda on SIBIRSKA LEDI MAGBET in 1961 and scoring MACAK POD SLJEMOM for film maker Zorz Skrigin in 1962. One year later he composed the score for the German/Yugoslav co-production DIE FLUCHT which told the story of two brothers during WW ll, one being a prisoner in a concentration camp who escapes and goes on the run, the other brother is a Nazi who is given the task of chasing his sibling. The two production companies that worked on this movie also produced jointly GENGHIS KHAN. Dusan Radic was born in Sombor Serbia, on April 10th, 1929, he was a composer who mainly concentrated on what can be called serious music or music for concert hall performance, with numerous works to his credit. Radic, was a freelance composer for twenty-five years between 1954 and 1979, after which he took up a professional composition position at the Academy of Arts at the University in Novi Sad, where he remained until his retirement. Dusan Radic died in Belgrade on April 3rd, 2010.  

Before the movie SCHINDLERS LIST, there was NBC television’s epic mini-series about the systematic slaughter of European Jews during World War II. The saga, HOLOCAUST focused on the Weiss family of Berlin, and won eight Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series; and lead-performance awards for Michael Moriarty and Meryl Streep. Director Marvin J. Chomsky and screenwriter Gerald Green also won Emmys. Morton Gould created a wonderfully emotive score for the series, with lilting themes that were filled with emotion and had to them a dramatic and powerful undercurrent. The score was issued on LP record on the RCA label and was presented in the form of a gatefold edition. It was finally issued onto compact disc in 2019 and contains the same music as the LP recording. This is a must have soundtrack, with so many affecting compositions. Released on note for note records NFN 1001, with new notes penned by Jon Burligame.  An outstanding soundtrack.