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.
Zodi is a a 12-year-old nomad, who discovers an orphan baby dromedary (Camel) in the desert. He takes in animal, feeds him, baptizes him Tehu and becomes his best friend. Zodi learns from a veterinarian, Julia, that Tehu is an exceptional runner and that he can bring in a lot of money for his tribe. But the qualities of his young dromedary arouse the greed of Tarek the poacher of the region.
To prevent Tehu from being sold, Zodi then decides to flee and cross the Sahara. It is during this trip that Zodi will face Tarek, survive a sandstorm, and cross the sea of salt with the ultimate goal of entering Tehu in the biggest camel race in the world in Abu Dhabi. With Julia’s help, Zodi struggles to realize his dream, make Tehu a champion and save his tribe. But I am guessing things do work out in the end in this family adventure that Disney would probably be proud to have been involved with.
The musical score for this adventure is outstanding, thematic, gloriously melodious and filled to the hilt with emotive and poignant compositions. The music is the work of Mika, Yes Mika the vocalist and international singing sensation that has had numerous hits around the globe. The music for the movie is I have to admit something of a change for the artiste, but it is a wonderful soundtrack, a touching example of how music can bring to the surface so many emotions and feelings and enhance and underline the storyline of a movie.
It’s a symphonic work, with vocals and chorale performances. The soundtrack includes various styles,.
Arabic sounding pieces are worked into the more western sounding compositions, the composer fusing them together to fashion at times mischievous and comedic moods and also at other times creating beautiful romantically laced passages alongside dramatic and driving interludes. It is a dramatic and thematic work, a varied score that is entertaining and uplifting. I for one look forward to more from Mika as a film music composer. Available now on digital platforms….yes its recommended.
A score that I was immediately drawn to was Knock at the Cabin, it’s the latest horror thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, a master of the dark and foreboding, and a purveyor of the unsettling and the apprehensive. Knock at the Cabin, has an inventive, alternative, atmospheric, and totally absorbing score by Herdis Stefansdottir. Being a horror movie one does not expect to hear music that is maybe alluring or compelling, but this score is both because of the sheer inventiveness of the music. Yes, it is foreboding, atonal, virulent, and deeply harrowing at times, but like I said this is a score for a horror movie.
The work is a fusion of both symphonic sounds and synthetic elements, the composer bringing them together seamlessly and effectively to create a superbly edgy and dark sounding soundtrack.
I love the way in which she utilizes solo violin, in the cue But You Will, the background sounds shadowy and spidery but the mood is lightened a little as the violin purveys a sad sounding theme, it’s a marvelously affecting composition, and at the same time a confusing one, as it does not really give anything away, so we are not sure when listening to this just as music if this is a moment of respite or maybe the pre-cursor to scenes of violence or shock.
Either way the composer successfully realizes an uneasy and tense atmosphere, and this can be said for the remainder of the score, in tracks such as Grab the Gun there is a greater emphasis upon urgency, driving percussive elements punctuate strings and synths empowering them and pushing them forward, bringing to fruition a nerve jangling persona.
A similar style is employed in Get in The Bathroom, but on this occasion is more developed and gains tempo to make it even more driving and threatening. It’s one of those moments that we experience when we are listening to a soundtrack that we think, how did they do that, this is good, wow no this is great.
What we have here is a brilliant score, no matter if you are not a fan of the genre it is from, the freshness and the originality of the music just speaks volumes. The score also boasts some beautiful sounding themes as in Epilogue, that has to it a luxurious yet apprehensive style, it has a haunting melody that shines through as if it is saying there is hope, or at least this is what I felt personally. And within the track Sacrifice and Departure I sensed shades of Herrmann or Goldsmith. It possesses real soul and has to it a heartrending yearning, which is emotive and hypnotic. This is an accomplished score that I recommended to you. Available on digital platforms now.
Matthieu Chedid, better known by his stage name -M-, is a French rock singer-songwriter and guitar player. Since 2018, he has been the most awarded artist at the Victoires de la Musique Awards with 13 awards, tied with Alain Bashung. He has just recently scored the latest addition to the ever growing Asterix franchise entitled Aterix and Obelix L’Empire du Milieua, in which we seethe only daughter of the Chinese emperor Han Xuandi, escape from a strict prince and seeks help from the Gaul’s and the two brave warriors Asterix and Obelix.
The music is a mix of dramatic and upbeat flourishes, with obvious references to the Chinese connection in the storyline, via vocals and oriental styles. It’s an impressive and epic sounding score, filled with fanfares and martial sounding interludes, he composer also weaving ethnic Chinese instrumentation into his score and combining these with percussive elements and voices.
There are also gloriously romantic and melancholy compositions within the score, and a handful of more contemporary sounding pieces, in which we hear the composers rock background shine through. Like the movie the score too is filled with fun and mischievous interludes and even two spaghetti western themed compositions with whistler and electric guitar underlined by choir and percussion.
I also detected a nod to Morricone in the cue entitled Tu Nes PasUn Peu Dang which has a sound that evokes the dramatic non-thematic material that Morricone employed within his score for Navajo Joe, dark piano, booming percussion being the dominant elements. The composer even pays homage to Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in America, as he utilises an arrangement of Deborah’s Theme, which is wonderfully touching. Plus there is his arrangement of The Ecstasy of Gold, again well done and although slightly different from the original it is still just as powerful.
Obviously the director of the movie and the composer are big Morricone fans. We are also treated to cover versions of We Will Rock You and I’ve Had the Time of My Life, well it is a comedy.
Many, of the cues are brief but still manage to attract the listeners attention and hold it. I love the way in which the composer combines soprano voice throughout underlining it with both symphonic and synthetic instrumentation. This is an entertaining work and I suggest that you check it out on digital platforms, you will love it.
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