Hotel Portofino began its run this week on ITV 1 the series has already been shown on Britbox and has attracted a following so I am told. . The opening episode of Hotel Portofino was I thought very good, and the music was superb, the score is a vibrant and thematic one, with the composer Stefano Cabrera providing the imagery on screen with some of the most luxurious sounding compositions I have heard in a long while for a TV series. In fact there is only one series on TV at the moment that I think makes an impression that is similar and that is Call the Midwife.
Hotel Portofino, has a beguiling and at times richly opulent sounding score, the composer utilizing the string section to maximum effect, and adding woods, a scattering of percussive elements and even more strings, harp, and delightful piano performances, the music is romantic, comedic, light, joyous and dramatic.
The composer also serves us a selection of easy listening cues that are written in a 1920’s and 30’s style having to them a mild jazz influence, but always remaining melodious and affecting. I wont, be telling you a lie when I say that every track on the soundtrack release is a charming and entertaining piece, there are no tracks or compositions that I would say I had to skip for whatever reason.
I enjoyed the entire release from start to finish, so much so that I returned to the beginning as soon as it had finished. This is not in any way a complicated score, but nor is a simple one, it is just a soundtrack that is a sheer delight, filled to overflowing with wonderfully haunting and melodious musical content. Recommended and available now on digital platforms.
In the Far West, the fur trade is raging. Bloody Fury, one of the last red wolves, decides to avenge his exterminated family. But is revenge the best solution to find the way to redemption?
COMPOSERSPAY HOMAGE TO THE WESTERN SCORES OF OLD.
Susan DiBona is a seasoned film composer and multi-instrumentalist who began studying piano and writing music at the age of seven. After many years of performing onstage and working as a session musician, songwriter, orchestrator and arranger, she later kicked off her career as a film composer in Berlin, Germany, where she wrote and produced numerous scores for a number of popular primetime German TV series and features. Her first classical piano and theory teacher as a child was the composer and concert pianist Leopold Godowksky III, nephew of George Gershwin, who mentored her and encouraged her to develop her composing skills. She acted as both vocal coach and lyricist for the top 3 winners of Star Search Germany under contract with BMG/Universal Music. Susan has vocal coached and written lyrics for artists under contract with Polydor, Capitol, Sony/BMG, and Echo Verlag.
She attended the Buddy Baker/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop at NYU and was mentored by Mark Snow (The X-Files) and Sonny Kompanek (orchestrator for Carter Burwell). Fluent in German, English, and Italian, she has conducted such prestigious orchestras as the Berliner Symphoniker, the Rome Film Orchestra, as well as ensembles including members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Philharmonic, Babelsberger Filmorchester and the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin, Italy.
Salvatore Sangiovanni, born in Italy, is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso concert and jazz pianist whose composing skills range from classic Italian opera to American big band and beyond. He holds a post-graduate degree in classical piano performance from The Royal School of London. He studied film scoring and orchestration under Carlo Crivelli and was mentored by Maestro Ennio Morricone. Sal also studied jazz with Michel Camilo (faculty member of The Juilliard School) and be-bop legend Barry Harris.
BLOODY FURY is a recent assignment for you both how did you become involved on the movie?
We’d heard of the project in summer 2022, and contacted the director, Jordan Inconstant, and sent him some of our music right away to introduce ourselves. Once the film was edited, around October, he got in touch and asked if we’d be available to write the score.
Watching the video of some of the sessions it’s clear that the score is influenced by both the music of Italian western and the more conventional sound of the Hollywood western, was this something that the director requested or was this a sound and style that you suggested would work for the movie?
Jordan did ask specifically for some elements of Italian Western film music, but we did want to channel some other composers as well: Aaron Copland, Elmer Bernstein, Scott Joplin – for the ragtime piano pieces which are played in the saloon scenes – and Carl William Stalling for the animation sequences (with a character voiced by Bill Nighy). Composing in these styles was not always a conscious choice; these styles came naturally and automatically to us because they fit so well with the images. We also included very American rock/blues music, something Jordan requested – and we think it works well. Our goal was to bring all these classic styles together seamlessly, make the score as modern and fresh as the movie, yet still give it our own signature sound.
Was the film temp tracked with any music at all, if so was this helpful or maybe distracting?
We received the film without temp tracks, by our own request. We did ask for some audio examples from the director at times to help us communicate (among the director and us two composers, there are three different native languages), and to narrow down the musical choices we would make as a team. In any case, a blank canvas to play with and an in-depth conversation with the director before we even start writing feels best for us. Temp tracks are limiting. In fact, if we feel free to develop our ideas at the start of the composing process – i.e., if the director trusts us enough to let us throw lots of different ideas around without having to follow temp tracks right from the beginning – the more creative resources we will have to draw from, and the better the score will be because we simply feel free to work using our instincts.
It looks like a small group of players mainly strings, how many live players did you have in the orchestra and what electronic elements did you use for the score?
We orchestrated everything ourselves in record time as soon as we had final approval on the mock-ups. As for electronic elements, we created some synth tracks and electronic effects. We then recorded live percussion tracks, and Susan recorded some bamboo and wooden flutes as well as vocals (also in our own studio) before the orchestral session. For the orchestral sessions, we had 18 live players at the session in Rome, with trumpet/Flügelhorn, and piano (both a classical grand and an upright “busted-up” piano for the ragtime parts). We recorded everything we needed from the orchestra in a couple of hours. Afterwards, we overdubbed the electric guitars in Berlin, where we also completed the mix with Klaus Knapp at Trixx Studios.
The film is a mix of live action and animation, how much music did you write for the project?
The soundtrack is about 30 minutes in length total.
On the score you use an old piano, which re-kindles perfectly the sound of the saloon tracks as composed for Italian westerns by the likes of Morricone, Bacalov, Nicolai etc, was this a piano that was originally utilised on other western scores?
Funny you should mention it! Yes, that very saloon piano was actually used in the score for the classic Western Django.
When will the movie be released, and I hope the score will be released?
The theatrical premiere is on May 4th in Paris, and we’ll know more soon about the distribution. We hope to have the score out on CD in time for the premiere! We’ll keep you posted.
Many thanks to
Susan & Salvatore, for answering our questions and we look forward to the film being in cinemas and also the soundtrack release.
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