Set in South Africa MOMENTUM is an action packed movie that by the look of the few scenes I was lucky enough to see at the recording session contains some of the most edge of the seat and fast paced situations that I have seen in recent years. The thriller which stars Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, James Purefoy and Scot Cooper is a tale about modern crime and begins with a complicated and risky heist that goes badly wrong. Kurylenko’s character Alex Faraday is a strong headed and beautiful woman who is as ruthless as she is attractive who after the heist is at risk of being caught by the authorities she also witnesses one of her fellow heist gang members being murdered viciously by members of an international syndicate, he escapes the scene of the murder but is seen by a Mr Washington (James Purefoy) who with his henchman embarks on a hunt to track her down thinking that she might have the information that her murdered colleague would not give them. It is an intriguing and highly entertaining plot which is at times violent and traumatic.
Stephen S. Campanelli makes his directorial debut on MOMENTUM but is no stranger to the world of motion pictures as he has been involved on numerous major movies as camera man, these include AMERICAN SNIPER, THE CHANGELING, VANILLA SKY, 50 FIRST DATES, SUM OF ALL FEARS, MYSTIC RIVER and MILLION DOLLAR BABY to name a mere handful, a protégé of actor director Clint Eastwood, I am sure this will be the first of many films that Campanelli will helm. The music is by Laurent Eyquem, who although may not be that familiar with collectors as yet has scored numerous TV productions and motion pictures, he first caught my attention with his haunting score for COPPERHEAD and then also his beautiful music for WINNIE MANDELA, but once I had discovered his music I began to look at articles and also his web site and discovered a wealth of beautiful works which he had penned, Laurent was awarded the IFMCA breakthrough composer of the year title in 2014 and has in recent months become one of the industries leading figures in scoring motion pictures. The score for MOMENTUM is a powerful one and contains all the elements that a great action picture needs to support it and also to embellish and enhance each and every scenario, but what struck me about the work and watching the composer put his score to the images was that it also contained a great deal of emotion and at times melancholy, which he at times applied to scenes that contained quite graphic violence, which I think will give the audience a real connection with each character. The music which was performed by players from a number of leading London orchestras was recorded over two days, January 7th and 8th at Abbey road studios, studio 2, Director Campanelli was also present.
The hard hitting compositions for the films many action scenes are striking and driving with the composer fusing electronic support with that of the conventional instruments of the orchestra, what also struck me about the score was that although the majority of the music was action led, it also contained wonderfully thematic material and a great asset to the work is that it actually contains what I call a MAIN THEME proper, by this I mean that the composer took me back to the days of when movies opened with a central theme that was not only melodic but also said to the audiences ok the movie is starting sit back and enjoy, and I think that when MOMENTUM opens (sometime in march 2015) audiences will love it and hopefully will also notice Laurent’s excellent powerhouse of a score. The score is performed in the main by strings and brass. The latter making a massive impression and giving the work a fearsome and relentless sound which one cannot fail to be gripped by. The strings add the melodies and give the work heart and a sweeping lushness that again one cannot fail to notice and love. The score is for me one of the best I have heard for a few years and I am not just saying this because I was present at the recording, straight away I knew that the music was not only good but it was magnificent, it is dark, tense, sad and moving, it all the qualities of an excellent motion picture score and I cant wait for the film to be released and then the soundtrack to get a compact disc release. Watch out for MOMENTUM and also Laurent Eyquem.
My thanks to Laurent Eyquem and also to all his team and Abbey road staff for their hospitality, also special thanks to Eleni Mitsiaki (ifmca).
In November 1995, I travelled to London’s Whitfield Street recording studios to sit in on the recording sessions for two albums that were being recorded by the British soundtrack label Silva Screen. These were HORROR and THE DEVIL RIDES OUT music for Hammer films composed by James Bernard. The label had found success previously when they re-recorded music from other Hammer horrors in their landmark album MUSIC FROM THE HAMMER FILMS which was issued originally on both long playing record and compact disc in 1989, the compilation included mainly the music of James Bernard, but also had within its running time a stunning suite from VAMPIRE CIRCUS by David Whitaker and also an equally interesting suite of themes from THE HANDS OF THERIPPER by Christopher Gunning. Based on the success of this re-recording Silva Screens David Wishart, James Fitzpatrick and David Stoner planned further re-recordings of not only Hammer film music but other pieces from the horror genre. On this occasion the first sessions were to focus more upon non James Bernard scores and to my delight WITCHFINDER GENERAL was on the schedule, Philip Lane had reconstructed the music from the score by Paul Ferris and had arranged the principal themes into a wonderful suite, which included the haunting love theme and opening theme from the movie. The recording engineer was Mike Ross Trevor who was a familiar face to many collectors of movie score’s, the orchestra was THE WESTMINSTER PHILHARMONIC who numbered nearly 100 musicians, under the very able guidance of conductor Kenneth Alwyn. I arrived late thanks to British rail, and was met with a crowd of young girls and boys making a bit of a din and holding cameras in hand. Sadly theses were not for James Bernard, Carlo Martelli or Buxton Orr, but for Madonna who was recording an album in the studio next door. I got through the crowd and into the studio, the session had already started and the orchestra were already in full flight giving a thunderous performance of Buxton Orr’s CORRIDORS OF BLOOD, I have to admit I did not recognise this at first but soon was reminded of what it was by David Wishart. I also did not recognise David Stoner, which was a little remiss of me! I had spoken to David Many times but only met him the once before, I soon however recognised the voice when he told me “It’s going really well”. Also in attendance at that time were composers Carlo Martelli, Buxton Orr plus Dimitri Kennaway (Benjamin Frankels stepson) and also his Mother Frankel’s widow.
Buxton Orr.The music recorded that first day was mainly that of Buxton Orr and also sections of THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF by Frankel, this I found to be a thrilling experience as Frankel’s music in particular just oozed energy and contained a particularly melodic pastorale theme. Carlo Martelli’s music for THE CURSE OF THE MUMMYSTOMB should also have been recorded in that session but due to a few problems with THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, which is a very difficult score to perform Martelli’s music was postponed until the next days session.
Day two and this was a session I was looking forward to because WITCHFINDER GENERAL was on the running order for that day; the session was running late because of THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF which was still proving a little difficult for the orchestra. Frankel’s score for Hammer’s lupine classic was after all a more or less fully atonal work, and the Westminster philharmonic had to have a few attempts at it before they got it sounding the way it should. After approx; 9 takes and the marvellous conducting skills of Kenneth Alwyn everything fell into place and it sounded marvellous. Carlo Martelli was present once again and I took a few minutes to speak with him, the composer was somewhat worried about how the orchestra would cope with his music for THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB, he felt that this too was a little difficult, however the orchestra took things in their stride and turned out a polished performance which the composer was pleased with. Next up was the classic British horror THE NIGHT OF THE DEMON this surely is one of the most iconic pieces of music from a horror movie, composed by Clifton Parker, it is a terror filled soundtrack for this recording the orchestra performed the overture, and filled the studio with the sound of horror and foreboding and evoked memories of the demon in question seeking out its victims and ending their existence, swiftly and mercilessly. WITCHFINDERGENERAL was up next, and after a short break the orchestra came back into the studio to prepare for this, the music was composed by Paul Ferris, who had sadly passed away just one month previous to this recording, WITCHFINDER GENERAL or THE CONQUERERWORM as it was entitled in the United States has since its release become a cult movie and has been hailed as a masterpiece of horror film making by critics and fans alike. The orchestra acquitted themselves marvellously, and special mention must be made of the string section and the beautiful delicate guitar solos of Harvey Hope. The re-construction by Philip Lane is in a word flawless. The cues included in this 6 minute suite included the Prelude and also the love theme which was arranged by Ferris in the movie to accompany Ian Ogilvy’s character as he rode home from the chaos of the English civil war to his fiancée. During this part of the recording I was invited to sit in the middle of the orchestra which is an experience that I will never forget.
It was at this point that David Wishart informed me that The Horror album would be dedicated to Paul Ferris, a fitting tribute I think. Also during this session the music of Humphrey Searle was on the agenda, these included his brilliant music for Robert Wise’s chiller THE HAUNTING and also Hammer films production of THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, both re-recordings went well and even with a full orchestra in a fully lit studio and the assembled company in the recording booth THE HAUNTING still made me feel slightly edgy and uneasy. After lunch composer James Bernard arrived. His THE DEVIL RIDES OUT was to be recorded, but as the session was running late it was not recorded until the session had almost finished, they decided to just go for it and try and get it in one take, so after a very quick run through Kenneth Alwyn raised his baton and the orchestra launched into the virulent sounding composition THE POWER OF EVIL from the score. This concluded the session, we would all return in two weeks for more dark delights.
THE SESSIONS PART TWO.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT COMPILATION.
If I was asked what James Bernard score was my favourite I would find it very difficult to single one out. Obviously his DRACULA theme looms large because it conjures up an atmosphere and feeling of pure evil. The composer’s music adds perfectly the sense of menace to the proceedings of any horror film that he has written for. So when I saw what was to be recorded during these sessions I was in seventh heaven, DEVIL RIDES OUT, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, SHE and music from QUATERMASS. KISS OF THE VAMPIRE I think was the main attraction for these sessions. The wonderful piano music from the score had been arranged by the composer for this re-recording into THE VAMPIRE RHAPSODY, Bernard told me that the solo piano part had originally been performed by Douglas Gamley, but for this session it would be played by Paul Bateman, who produced a flawless performance par excellence. This stunning performance will be one of the highlights of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT compilation, without sounding clichéd or corny I was literally mesmerized by Bateman’s performance.
Also recorded over the weekend were sections from James Bernard’s SHE which he had arranged into a suite, Bernard confessed this was one of the hardest scores he had composed and had more problems with it than all of his other works for Hammer, but it also turned out to be his own personal favourite. The suite included AYESHA THEME, DESERT RIDE, BEDOUIN ATTACK, IN THE KINGDOM OF SHE and also the music for the end sequence where Ayesha enters the flames and perishes. An additional treat was a suite of music from all the QUATERMASS movies that Bernard scored. THE QUATERMASS SUITE is in the words of David Wishart “Real Horror stuff” and after hearing it I totally agreed. The suite is terrific, tense and dramatic music that is performed on strings and percussion only, this rivals the work of Herrmann in my opinion and is more complex and certainly more harrowing in its overall sound than PSYCHO or VERTIGO, and seeing as Bernard penned QUATERMASS before either of these two Herrmann scores, one has to ask the question who influenced who, if indeed anyone did. The sessions had gone well and we had time to record additional tracks which were destined for THE HORROR album, Gerard Schurmann’s KONGA and HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM plus Buxton Orr’s THE FIEND WITHOUT A FACE. As the sessions ended I was confident that both these compilations would do well for Silva Screen and also that the label had once again restored and preserved some wonderful music from film, which might have been lost forever. A few weeks later the HORROR album dropped through my letterbox and to my surprise and also delight I saw that David Wishart had used my photographs from the sessions and also had given me a credit in the CD liner. It was also at these sessions that James Fitzpatrick played to me a few cues that he had recorded with another orchestra, these were FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN and THE SCARS OF DRACULA, which sounded brilliant, the orchestra was THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC, who as we all know have become a driving force in film music.
Many thanks to,
David Wishart, David Stoner, James Fitzpatrick, Philip Lane, Buxton Orr, Carlo Martelli, James Bernard, Fiona Searle, Dimitri Kennaway, Kenneth Alwyn and the ladies and gentlemen of THE WESTMINSTER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA.