As you are probably aware I at times do say that modern film music is nowhere near as good or as thematic as material that I grew up with written by Goldsmith, Bernstein etc, the recent glut of superhero films have been disappointing both as movies and in the musical score or sound design department, let’s face it and say it, Zimmer’s Superman scores were pretty uninspiring and recent contributions from other composers seem to have fallen flat and become instantly forgettable, in fact they were forgettable as soon as they began to play in most cases. So, with WONDER WOMAN I thought yes, a glimmer of light in the musical expertise of Rupert Gregson Williams, I liked his work on TARZAN and THE CROWN too showed some little glints of light musically speaking, but sadly alas NO, WONDER WOMAN the music is not worthy of the film it is intended to enhance. Harsh I hear you say, well that’s how I hear it anyways. The movie itself I think is probably the best superhero movie to hit the screens since, ummm let me think? Oh well anyway its very good. I was disappointed in the fact that the composer really did not infuse any real originality into the score, this could be a soundtrack penned by any number of Hollywood film music composers and it just oozes with the influences of Zimmer, with its brooding strings its gradually building themes if you can call them that and its lumbering percussive elements. It is in my opinion a score that never really develops, it is always bubbling under if you see what I mean, the composer does on occasion let fly with something that approaches action or superhero stuff, but again where are the themes where are the central and core musical moments and the real foundations of the score on which great or super themes can be built, I worry about the future of film music, it seems to be stuck in the doldrums and just very occasional we get a treat, WONDER WOMAN is a very entertaining movie, well made and well-acted but the music certainly is not WONDER-FULL. I think Hollywood, has to get away from using certain composers for certain types of movies, maybe even not think HANS ZIMMER straight away, after all there are far more competent and original composers out there, maybe even think outside the box and get someone in that is fresh and new, just a thought. This movie is good, with a more substantial and vibrant score it could have been great.
Hungarian Born composer Arthur Valentin Grosz is I must admit a new name to me, but looking at this composer’s credits he has been very active and busy scoring movies over the past few years. One of his recent assignments is for short film entitled MADELEINE, the score is a touching and highly emotive one which relies predominantly upon solo piano which at times is supported by strings and a subdued use of choir. The score is just 20 minutes in duration, but it is a soundtrack that has an immediate effect upon the listener. Its lilting and highly melodic tone poems are alluring and haunting, the composers gift for melody being obvious from the outset. Most of the cues include solo piano performances and although short (some under a minute) they do make a big impact upon the listener, the MAIN TITLE for example begins with piano, that is underlined by strings and faint choral performances which are replaced by a solo cello giving the piece a sorrowful and at the same time romantic sound. Track three FATHERS THEME is one of my personal favourites again it is a brief piece, but its eight-note motif performed on piano which repeats and is supported by subtle use of strings is affecting. The same can be said for each track, there is something beautiful and mesmerising within each of the selections that will have the listener returning to them as soon as they have finished playing. There is nothing that is over-ally dark or sinister within the score apart from a slightly apprehensive piece ESCAPE, which is track number 11, where the composer utilises strings to create an unsettling atmosphere, most of the cues being pleasant and highly attractive. It is I suppose the simplicity and fragility of the themes and nuances within the work that makes it so interesting and appealing. I would recommend that you sample this as it is a score that I know you will become fond of straight away.
I Can Not Breathe
Finding The Peacock
Il Est Mort
Waiting For The Bus
Over The Bridge
Madeleine & Father
In The Hospital
Total Album Time:
Up for re issue very soon on vinyl is Bill Conti’s Oscar winning score for THE RIGHT STUFF (it beat Jerry Goldsmith’s UNDER FIRE). Considering that this was to be a project for composer John Barry who decided not to go through with the assignment due to “artistic differences” with the director. I think Conti did well to write such an epic sounding score in a relatively short period of time. It’s a score that not only underlines the drama, the tension and the patriotism displayed on screen but also one that is wonderful to listen to just as a collection of themes away from any storyline or images. I remember it was a while before the score or at least excerpts from the score were issued on LP record, and it was Varese Sarabande who delivered the goods to collectors once again, THE RIGHT STUFF being the A side and on the B side of the album were a handful of cues from Conti’s score for the American civil war tale NORTH AND SOUTH which was a sprawling epic TV series. Later the same recording was re-issued onto compact disc with the exact same track listing and art work. With the latest up and coming release its 100 percent THE RIGHT STUFF and it looks like an impressive package too with extra cues. Conti’s effervescent and highly stirring musical compositions will I know enthral and command the attention of any listener, so look out for this re-issue or indeed track down a copy of the CD, because NORTH AND SOUTH too is a great listen, with its Copelandish/Steiner thematic material. This is one to add to your collection if you have not yet done so.
It’s difficult sometimes to know what to review when selecting older scores, mainly because most collectors may already have them, but I suppose with the amount of re issues that are around these days there are a few collectors who may have missed them second time around or even third time around for that matter. Italian soundtracks have always held an interest for me and I was lucky enough to experience many of the 1960, s and 1970, s releases first hand as they were released on long playing record or even at times on single with some fantastic art work on both. Plus, I was around when things like EL CID was issued on the MGM yellow label LP and even remember items such as 55 DAYS AT PEKING, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and ZULU on their original LP record release. So, in this section for the reviews in brief page I thought I would add a whole bunch of mini reviews, not too much info or waxing lyrical about a cue or the production values etc., after all a review is simply an opinion, which you as a collector may choose to ignore or disagree with. So here we have a handful of scores that may or maybe not have been re-issued, and remember this is my personal view. There will also be brief reviews of contemporary scores posted here too. I was going to opt for a simple star rating, but maybe that is just too brief. Ok so look out for, reviews in the REVIEWS IN BRIEF section very soon.
Ennio Morricone is as we all know the world’s most prolific composers of music for film. The 1960, s and 1970, s were in many fans opinions the golden age for the composer, he worked on many motion pictures during those two decades and it seemed as if there were at least two soundtracks by Morricone released every week, westerns, dramas, comedies, romantic tales all benefited from the Maestro’s distinct musical style. One movie score of his from the 1970’s still remains a favourite of mine. INCONTRO 1971, contains one of his most haunting and romantic soundtracks and although it has been re-released recently there is sadly no more music available. The score has a running time of just over 30 minutes, but what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. This is a score that is brimming with delicate romantic themes that have about them a fragility and an alluring persona, that is both subtle and fully lush. Morricone combines both a vintage passionate sound with that of a more contemporary style, thus keeping the score fresh and appealing throughout. Piano is underlined by strings and also supported by heartrending solo violin performances, with trademark woodwind and harpsichord that are understated but essential in creating this poignant and emotive soundtrack. Originally released on a CAM records LP and then re issued as part of the CAM soundtrack encyclopaedia on compact disc.
The soundtrack more recently was re-issued on the Spanish label Quartet, who gave it a new look art work wise. INCONTRO is I suppose what is referred to as classic Morricone, and is in the same league as LOVE CIRCLE, LA CALIFFA, HE AND SHE and many others that have also earned the title of being classic Morricone. It’s a pity that no more music is available for release but with some things less is more if you get what I mean. Recommended.