Category Archives: Sleeve Notes.

CARI MOSTRI DEL MARE. (sleeve notes).

Sleeve notes for the Kronos records release, CARI MOSTRI MARE, Available NOW.

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Composer Carlo Savina, was born in Turin, Italy on August 29th, 1919, he became one of the most sought after and busiest composers of film and television music in his native Italy and later became respected and much in demand within the rest of Europe and the United States. As a composer Savina worked on numerous movies and was able to easily adapt his style and creative thoughts to cater for any genre of film, he worked on numerous assignments for the cinema which included, romantic comedies, tales of drama and adventure, westerns and historical period pieces as well as thrillers, horror movies, Police dramas and Roman epics. Because of his unique sound and versatility, the composer was able to bring to each project a lushness and melodic perfection that was his own individual musical fingerprint, and this was a style that not only suited and supported the movies that he worked on, but also was appealing as music that could be listened to away from any of the images it was intended to enhance. Savina, also made a name for himself in the role of conductor and arranger and during his career collaborated with many eminent Maestros who penned soundtracks for motion pictures, his career spanned across both what many collectors and film music buffs refer to as the golden and the silver age of film music, he has acted as musical director to, Philippe Sarde (TESS THE TENANT and THE BEAR), Nino Rota (THE GODFATHER, AMACORD, FELLINI ROMA, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and numerous others), Manuel De Sica (THE GARDEN OF FINZI CONTINI) and most notably Miklos Rozsa on the epic score for BEN HUR. Savina, collaborated with Dr Rozsa many times, and worked on the composer’s epic soundtracks for Hollywood produced Biblically slanted blockbusters that were filmed at Cinecitta in Rome. During the 1960, s, Savina was given the full credit as composer on the motion picture EL CID, this was purely for prints that were released in Italy because of certain contractual issues that existed at the time. Savina’s contribution to the world of cinema has been vast and consistently very good and it is at times hard to come to terms with just how many movies this Maestro has been involved with. He scored numerous Spaghetti westerns either as composer or musical director between 1969 and through to the mid 1980’swhen the genre finally started to fall from grace with cinema audiences.

carlo-savina

One of the westerns that Savina composed for was COMING AT YA (1981) which was a 3D movie and was basically a vehicle for actor Tony Anthony, the composer’s music outshining the storyline, the images and any acting that might have taken place. The score is still revered and respected by many to this day and is held in high esteem by collectors and critics alike. Savina came from a musical background, his Father played first clarinet in the orchestra of EIAR which at the time was the Italian public radio broadcaster.
As a youngster Savina found himself constantly surrounded by music and began to become increasing interested in music composition, which was something that his parents became aware of, so they decided that he should from an early age begin to take lessons on the violin. He went on to study music at the Music Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Turin from where he graduated with diplomas in Violin, Composition, Piano and conducting. In 1945 Savina began to write musical compositions that were utilized for radio in plays and also for background music on other programmes and shows. He then formed his own orchestra and became well known and much in demand. In 1950 the composer began to write music for the cinema and for the next thirty years became one of the most prolific composer conductors involved in movie music. I suppose one could say that Carlo Savina was to Nino Rota what Bruno Nicolai was to Ennio Morricone. Savina often arranging and conducting Rota’s scores and at times writing additional cues for him when he had moved onto another assignment and the film’s producers felt the need for an extra section of film to be scored. Savina also worked with Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovaioli, Stanley Myers, Stephen Sondheim and Mario Nascimbene as arranger or musical director. But there is no doubt whatsoever that Carlo Savina possessed a great talent and was a gifted composer in his own right and during his career worked on over 200 film scores. In 1985 he was the recipient of the David Di Donatello Award for best music, which was for his score to PIZZA CONNECTION. He passed away on June 23rd, 2002.

THE DIRECTOR.

vailati

Bruno Vailati.

An area in which Savina seemed to excel at was the documentary, nowadays I am sure if he were still alive and working would have been very busy writing the scores for the abundance of documentary films that we see on both TV and in the cinema. One such documentary was, CARI MOSTRI DEL MARE or FRIENDLY MONSTERS FROM THE DEEP as it was known outside of Italy which was released in 1977. Directed by, Oceanographer and filmmaker Bruno Vailati who also wrote the screenplay. Vailati, was born on September 2nd, 1919 in Alexandria, Egypt and had a passion for creating these type of documentary movies he was a fearless and adventurous filmmaker who would dive into treacherous waters and explore unchartered seas to bring us rare footage, he worked on many documentaries all of which have garnered a lot of interest. His work as a film producer and writer ranged from 13 one-hour long undersea documentaries titled “Encyclopedia of the Sea,” (which I suppose one can compare to the work of French filmmaker and explorer Jacques Cousteau) to the Italian sword and sandal epic “HERCULES UNCHAINED,”
After graduating from law school at the University of Bologna, Vailati mounted his first film expedition. He travelled to the Red Sea and produced some of the earliest, and at that time the highest quality underwater film footage ever shot. This footage eventually became “The Blue Continent.” Vailati, became known and highly respected as the years rolled forward for his passion and enthusiasm when it came to marine photography. His films, which were made in the main for Italian production companies and sponsors, as well as his own film company, were then sold onto other TV channels and companies and shown throughout the world on public and private TV stations.
In 1954, his “The Blue Continent” was one of two Italian entries at the Venice Film Festival; the other was Federico Fellini’s “La Strada.” As his career progressed the filmmaker, made documentaries in all the worlds seas, and in Italy his movies often attracted more viewers than the so called popular and successful shows on TV. Away from Marine photography and documentaries he worked on, THE GIANT OF MARATHON, THE GOLDEN ARROW, TORPEDO BAY, the aforementioned HERCULES UNCHAINED and a remake of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD in the early 1960’s. In 1971, Vailati collaborated with fellow filmmaker David L Wolper for a series entitled MEN OF THE SEA, the six-part series of 1-hour documentaries included an episode ANDREA DORIA MINUS 40, which charted Vailati’s exploration of the wreck of an Italian steamship which sank in 1956.
Vailati, passed away in Rome, on February 26th, 1990 after a long battle with cancer, he was 70.

© 2019 John Mansell. Movie Music International.

LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS.(sleeve notes for the Kronos CD release, Dec 2019).

lill
By John Mansell. ©2019. Movie music international.

 

Christmas, ah yes. Tis the season of good will, cheer, warmth and of a peaceful and contented feeling throughout the world, or so we are told. But Christmas can also be a time for tales of witchery, mystery, monsters and ghosts. A Christmas Carol being the obvious go to tale of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but also ending with a wonderfully heart-warming message. Lilly’s hometown prepares for the festive celebrations, and all things Christmas are uppermost in the hearts and minds of everyone, (but are these the right thoughts?) Until that is Lilly accidently summons Rupert who is said to be a companion of Saint Nicolaus. In a modern-day environment Rupert begins to feel uncomfortable and is filled with anger and disappointment when he sees what he thinks are unnecessary material things that are everywhere and are linked with the so-called festive season. In his rage he decides that he will teach the people of Lilly’s town the true meaning of the festive season and install within them respect and good manners. Anne-Kathrin Dern became involved with the film LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS via her on-going collaboration with composer, Klaus Badelt with whom she had been working alongside on various projects for a few years. Badelt, had created the scores for the first two instalments of the movie series and introduced her to the production team who were working on the third. She recorded the score in Belgium in the summer months of 2017, with the music being performed by members of the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra under the baton of conductor Matt Dunkley. Badelt provided the main theme for the movie, (Evil, Can Create Evil) which was a feature of his previous scores. Dern’s score will enthral, enrich and delight, and is one that has so many vibrant musical colours and textures. There is a creative and innovative style present throughout the work, with an inventive and imaginative use of both strings and choir that combine to fashion a magical and ethereal sounding work, which is perfect for a movie that is set during the festive season. It is also a work that is literally dripping with melodious and richly thematic pieces, but also has to it a certain amount of quirkiness and a mischievous quality which underlines and emphasises the more jovial and lighter moments of the film, this quirky style glimmers within and through the main fabric of the score adding another dimension to the movie and also bringing a mysterious and magical musical persona to the soundtrack.

ANNE KATHRIN2

There are a handful of styles present within the score, one of which can be likened to that of Danny Elfman in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, with touches of John Williams in HOME ALONE mode and little strokes of James Horner as in CASPER, which I think cannot be a negative in any way. There is an impish and devilish aura that weaves in and out of the musical proceedings, and at times this evokes a sweeping, otherworldly and urgently rich style employed by composers such as John Debney in scores such as HOCUS POCUS and again John Williams in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. A melancholy and romantic style also begins to make its presence felt as the score progress’s and develops, which at times is interrupted by an adventurous near swashbuckler of a theme as in shades of PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN. One thing is certain there is no shortage of sparkling, mysterious, dramatic, luscious and magical thematic properties here. The soundtrack has to it an intimate side too which can be fragile, delicate and childlike, the tantalising score is filled with an appeal which is haunting as well as charming and it oozes character and quality.
John Mansell. (c) 2019.

“Having grown up during the 90s with Alan Menken’s music for the Disney animations, I’ve always known that music and movies were my passion, but I decided at around age 12 that I wanted to pursue it professionally. I had been playing various instruments and got theory lessons, but it wasn’t until I heard John Williams’ score for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” that I began to research the profession of a film composer. That same year, just a month later, Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” came out and by that time I was completely taken by the idea of writing music for movies. It seemed like an unlikely thing to do at the time, with the film industry being on the other side of the world and without the internet as a resource completely out of reach as well. But I simply continued to study scores on my own, hoping that everything would fall into place eventually”.
Anne-Kathrin Dern. (c) 2018 MMI.

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CD AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM KRONOS RECORDS. 

Also pre-order JESUS OF NAZARETH. BY ALEJANDRO KARO.

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ART FILM MUSIC. (sleeve notes for the SONY release on December 13th 2019.)

FILM MUSIC IS AN ART.
By John Mansell. (Movie music international).  © 2019. not to be re-printed without permission of the author. 

art

Art is something that can be purveyed in various ways, there is art as in the form of the drawing or painting of images, art as is the written word or the creation of poetry and verse, art as in sculpture and pottery or the musical works of the great Masters, art comes in many shapes and personas, and at times one does wonder is this really art? There is also an art form which is sadly overlooked and has always been and this is the composition of music for the specific purpose of enhancing or supporting the moving image on screen, in other words film music as we know it. There are an abundance of styles and sounds which are utilised within the film music arena, but the one purpose no matter what style or direction artistically the composer chooses to focus upon or take, is that the music he or she writes underlines, supports and above all compliments and elevates the scene or scenarios that are being acted out on screen, and the composer has to do this without being intrusive or overwhelming, in fact he or she writes music that maybe at times is not even noticed by a watching audience, this I suppose is the purpose of music in film, to be there in the background to add to a scene but it must not be heard in a way that we as an audience or a listener would hear it in their home or via a recording they have purchased. There are numerous composers that work within the film music fraternity, but there are but a handful that stand out and shine via their innovative or distinctive compositions. One of these is Maestro Remo Anzovino, his music for feature films, documentaries and television projects, may or may not be familiar to you, but there is little doubt that he is a talented musician and a composer that adds colour, light and shade to a movie just as a painter adds textures and images to a canvas. Anzovino, personifies the word chameleon-like with his varied and versatile compositions and has created numerous soundtracks that not only ingratiate the projects he has worked upon adding atmosphere and depth to each one in an individual way, but also he has written affecting and mesmerising tone poems that have much appeal and contain a hauntingly beautiful quality which can be appreciated and savoured by many who listen to them away from the images they were intended to underline and punctuate.

The composer’s music is a synthesis of styles, that encompasses and embraces numerous musical sounds and employs a mixture of textures and colours. There are delicate and intricate nuances within his works that evoke emotive and poignant senses, intimate piano solos that fixate the listener because of their charming and expressive sound, dark and brooding passages that are intense and gripping and lavish and luxurious themes that are vibrant and tantalising. But, every project is different, yes there is a sound or a style that is present throughout each of his musical journeys whether this be for a studio album or for TV, Film etc, but when one listens to music by this composer every new recording and new composition is filled with an astonishing vitality and energy which beguiles and enthrals.

Remo Anzovino, was born in Pordenone, Italy on February 12th 1976. He began to take piano lessons in his early years and then as a teenager studied privately harmony and jazz and then moved onto counterpoint. He began to compose music at the age of 11, aged 18 the composer began to work on writing music for commercials, and at around the same time started to contribute musical scores for the theatre. He was always attracted to creating music for the moving image, and aged 26 the composer wrote his first score for a silent movie, an area in which he has since exceled and become known for in recent years.
“I have always imagined a silent film with screenplay and sounds, to me silent films are just films. Therefore, it was a matter of commentating them musically rather than making didactic choices or a simple accompaniment. This requires a greater preparation on the film and a greater respect of the narrative. I cannot stand the idea of extemporizing music especially for a silent film. In fact, a greater rigor is expected. Obviously, there is no chance to discuss the music with the filmmaker and thus you need to convey modern emotions and feeling from a film shot almost a century ago”.
(Remo Anzovino).

In 2006 the composer began to devote most of his time to composing music for film.
“I think a musician can work for a film only if he loves the cinema deeply and knows its basic language. I feel comfortable in doing this because I work as if the music was not mine, I love cinema to the point that I personally strive for finding the most suitable solutions for the film. In my concerts I always put some themes from soundtracks that I rearrange in different forms to make it even more autonomous in the relationship with the audience”. (Remo Anzovino).

This music collection includes five examples of the composers work for film, VAN GOGH OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES, GAUGAIN IN TAHITI-PARADISE LOST, WATER LILIES OF MONET, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS and the composers score for FRIDA VIVA LA VIDA. Each one has its own individuality, its own voice and its own musical fingerprint. It is evident when listening to these superb scores that there is a glimmer of genius within each of them, with a light of excellence that shines through them and radiates from them.

Many critics often remark when discussing composers and they want to draw a comparison between them and a more established or well-known artist. “This is the new Ennio Morricone” or “This could be a modern-day Bernard Herrmann”. Yes, Remo Anzovino, does have certain qualities and little nuances and quirks of orchestration that one could easily compare to other composers that work in film, but to draw any comparisons with other composers I think would be pointless as he is a music-smith who has created his own incredible sound and fashioned his own original style, he is Remo Anzovino.

VAN GOGH-OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES.
The Sedona International Film Festival, presented the Great Art on Screen series with “Van Gogh: Of Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies”. This was screened in Sedona on Wednesday, Feb. 13th, at the festival’s Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Great Art on Screen is a series of seven documentaries featuring an in-depth look at the most extraordinary and ground-breaking art masters of their time. Take a fresh look at Van Gogh through the legacy of the greatest private collector of the Dutch artist’s work: Helene Kröller-Müller (1869-1939), one of the first to recognize the genius of Van Gogh. In the early 20th century, Kröller-Müller amassed nearly 300 of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings now housed at her namesake museum in Holland.
The Basilica Palladina exhibition in Vicenza, “Amid Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies,” with 40 paintings and 85 drawings on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum, lends the basis of this program, revealing Van Gogh’s art and his genius, while allowing audiences to understand the importance of drawing as part of his craft. Van Gogh’s seemingly instinctive canvases were the result of long, preparatory studies very rarely exhibited – not just sketches but stunning works of art in and of themselves, where the broken flow of lines that characterize the style and strokes in Van Gogh’s paintings can already be seen. Composer Remo Anzovino, wrote a soundtrack that is sublimely beautiful and alluring attractive, the Maestro creating wonderfully lyrical musical poems that not only enhance the images on screen but also bring a sense of emotion and poignancy to the proceedings.
His music gives the artistry and stunning imagery as created by the Master Vincent Van Gogh an even greater life and vibrancy, the musical score purveys an aura of vulnerability and fragility and weaves an intricate and compelling musical web, that itself could be seen as a brush of sorts that is applying colour and giving life to an empty canvas. The composer utilises solo piano and strings that at times soar or entwine to bring to fruition a heartfelt and highly emotive conclusion.
The gracious and eloquent themes the composer has written seem to engulf the listener and surround them; they are emotionally affecting as just music as well as being effective in the context of the film. The style is at times classical but there is also present a slightly more contemporary sound which although is fleeting proves to be attractive and powerful. The score is filled with a vibrant but at the same time poignant persona which has touches of splendour tinged with melancholy. The piano performances are haunting and spellbinding and create a mesmerizing and delicate air. Accordion is also utilised and adds much to the proceedings, the instrument fades in and out of cues adding an even greater atmosphere to the score. The instrument is then given a greater role and is centre stage in a handful of cues, LOVING PEOPLE being one of them. ARLES SYMPHONY is another outstanding piece which has subdued but simultaneously driving strings that are a background to additional strings which perform the central melody, this is also enhanced by use of percussion and punctuated by Accordion. But it is the piano performances within the score that tantalise and entertain, they are not only delicate and fragile sounding, but via their achingly beautiful pure sound become hypnotic.
HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS.
“I was involved in scoring Hitler Versus Picasso and the Others from the producer Didi Gnocchi (3d Produzioni) with whom I previously worked for some television projects. She co-produced Hitler versus Picasso with Nexo Digital as distributor. From that moment on we started an ongoing partnership collaborating particularly with the CEO Franco Di Sarro. I composed 3 scores VAN GOGH OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and WATER LILLIES OF MONET one after the other since all the films were released in 2018, one every two months in approximately six months”.(Remo Anzovino).
HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS, has a score that is certainly filled with drama and urgency, but, it also contains many passages and interludes that contain a rich and melodic style, Remo Anzovino, has written a powerful soundtrack that is overflowing with themes which have varying styles and definite appeal. The music is an entertaining entity alone, as well as perfectly supporting the film. The composer manages to create so many fresh and lingering thematic properties throughout the work. It is a more thematically led score with strong motifs that lend a considerable weight to creating a greater atmosphere and setting the mood of the film. Directed by Claudio Poli, HITLER VS PICASSO and the OTHERS is set in 1937 when the Nazi’s held two exhibitions in Munich: one was in order to denounce what was termed as “degenerate art,” the other, was curated by Hitler personally, and was said to be staged to glorify “classic art.” The film is presented and Narrated by Toni Servillo, and is a journey through four exhibitions, where masterpieces by Botticelli, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Chagall, Renoir, and Gauguin are on display. With each exhibition a story unfolds and each of these are interesting and fascinating.
The cast includes, Timothy Garton Ash, Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Edgar Feuchtwanger, Simon Goodman and Berthold Hinz. After a period of seventy years since the declaration of war, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO AND THE OTHERS is a film that reveals many of the secrets of the so-called Fuhrer treasure. Paintings by numerous revered artists are hidden, looted from galleries and museums with many of them thought destroyed by the Nazi’s and lost forever. These are un-earthed and reveal the Nazi’s obsession with art. The four exhibitions which the film revolves around are.

“Degenerate Art” Munich, July 9, 1937
The Nazi hierarchy organized this exhibition in Munich, it consisted of 650 works of art seized from over 30 German galleries and works that were confiscated from private collections. The works were chosen from modern movements in the world of art that were not in keeping with what the Nazi’s considered to be things of beauty.

“21 rue La Boétie”, Paris, March 2017
Anne Sinclair, director of the Huffington Post, reveals the story of her Grandfather, Paul Rosenberg, who was to become known as one of the most interesting gallery owners and art dealers in the early part of the 20th Century. He was a French national and Jewish, who was good friends with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse, and an extraordinary art collector, who opened a gallery at 21 rue La Boétie, in 1910, where he collected works of ‘degenerate art’. In 1942 he was stripped of his French nationality and part of his collection was stolen by the Nazis.

“Gurlitt Collection”, in two locations:
The last chapter of the films story is set in September 2010. A train hurtles along a track with an elderly Gentleman on board, he is German, and we soon discover that he is art collector Cornelius Gurlitt. His Father, Hildebrand became known as ‘Hitler’s Merchant’. Cornelius was hiding some of the most priceless art treasures of the century, among them “Portrait of a Lady” by Matisse, the painting belonging to expert and lover of Impressionism, Paul Rosenberg.
The music for the movie is an essential component of the story telling and an integral and important part of the film and the film making process, it would be difficult to imagine this movie without the subtle underscore or the more dramatic and driving pieces that the composer created for this production, the thematic quality of the compositions are evident and the score heightens the mood and atmosphere within every scene, the composer underlining and punctuating without being intrusive. The score is a fusion of symphonic, choral and electronic elements. Anzovino fashioning and creating via use of the full range of the instruments within the orchestra and by way of samples.

HITLER VERSUS PICASSO AND THE OTHERS, contains a score that is a truly haunting affair, one example of emotive writing within the soundtrack is the cue, VIOLIN FOR THE INNOCENTS, which is filled with so much emotional sentiment and a musical passion that is immediately affecting, it is not just a heartfelt composition but a heart breaking one, that invades the listeners soul. The same can be said for CELLO FOR THE INNOCENTS which recalls the same theme, in a slightly briefer duration, but has to it an air of melancholy and a rather more sombre aura, but again brimming with yearning and poignancy.
“My scores for film and also television always involve musicians. My team is made up of people who get along and of high expertise. For string instruments, we have developed a special technique that mixes pieces played by musicians for every section of the orchestra and samples. This combination makes the sound tenser and more modern without giving up to the kind of expressiveness only musicians can add. Brass instrument, woods, percussions and string instruments are rigorously played by musicians. Piano pieces are of course played by me. I like using electronics in expressive and analogue fashion. I usually conduct my film scores but am also supported by my assistant the Maestro Federico Mecozzi. While one conducts the other supervises in the recording booth with the sound technician Cristian Bonato”(.Remo Anzovino).

 

WATER LILIES OF MONET (The Magic of Water and Light).
This film tells the story of how a huge piece of art came into being and also of how it essentially broke with convention and also of the artist Monet who’s life was reconstructed and invigorated via painting. It is a story that shows the obsession the artist had with light and water, an obsession it seems he could not get away from, but putting it to wonderful use by transforming his paintings into magical and beguiling Masterpieces that were to revolutionize modern art. The artist had one goal and that was to transfer his first impression onto the canvas and paint so it appeared as an image that he had not seen before every time he looked at it. The documentary also does this and shows the watching audience THE WATER LILIES by Monet as they have never been seen before. This is a uniquely special cinematic experience, with exclusive footage of Monet’s masterpieces which are housed at the Orangerie Museum, the Marmottan Museum and Giverny. Masterpieces that would be the artists final legacy to France and ultimately the world, being a symbol that is associated with peace and hope for all.
The score for WATER LILIES OF MONET is an accomplished and richly melodious work. It has to it an intimacy and purveys a sense of hopefulness and joy that is resounding and vibrant. The composer makes effective use of synthetic and sampled sounds within the score and creates a collection musical landscapes and moments that are coloured with mesmeric and lilting musical sounds and textures which he achieves by combining the synthetic with the symphonic, the choral and solo voice interludes. The composer fashions uplifting and energetic themes that are filled to overflowing with exuberant and harmonious sounds. The score may not be grandiose, but it is a work that is tantalising and haunting, the combination of Soprano and strings is stunning, and the use of electronics and conventional instrumentation is a stroke of genius, each section complimenting and giving support to one another.

GAUGUIN IN TAHITI-PARADISE LOST.
In 1891 artist Paul Gauguin had become disillusioned with life in Europe, his wife had left him and taken his children with her, his friend Vincent Van Gogh had passed away and his life as a painter was in the doldrums. In the same year the artist decided that he would leave Marseilles and head for the South Seas, it was this decision that took him to Tahiti. French Polynesia and The Marques Islands where he was to experience so many beautiful and wonderous sights in the form of landscapes, seascapes and also life experiences through the local populations of the islands. These inspired him to create images and vibrant colours that were to change his approach to painting forever, seeing the use of colour and light in a very different way from when he was in France.
The film takes us to simple island dwellings which the artist built out of leaves and bamboo whilst in the Pacific and to modern day Paris, New York, Boston, Chicago and Edinburgh where many of his masterpieces are now preserved. This is a film that follows this master’s journey on which he grasps the essence of life and art. To enhance the beauty of Gauguin’s surroundings Remo Anzovino has written one of his most touching scores, it is a work of immense beauty itself, the composer again performing piano on the soundtrack. There are it seems an endless collection of heart-warming and wonderfully affecting themes present within this score, and at times it is hard to take in that all this superb music comes from one movie. The opening cue, OVIRI, is a short lived but brooding and powerful introduction to the remainder of the score, with the composer creating a dark and shadowy sound, via piano, low strings and breathy woodwind, tremolo strings are introduced also which bring a sinister sound to the proceedings, it is a uneasy style that is employed, with brass being added at the conclusion.
Track number two, NOA NOA is a lighter affair with soft strings and lilting piano performance which compliment each other perfectly, the composer also utilises wood wind as in flute which has to it a slightly jazz style, but the combination of the strings, piano woods and electronic support is ingenious and also entertaining and evokes memories of Italian film music from the late 1960’s and into the decade of the 1970’s, its film music but also could be categorised as new age or easy listening exotica styles. Track number four on the recording is LES JOURS PERDUS, this is in my opinion one of the most beautiful melodies on the score, piano again takes centre stage whilst being underlined by strings, and laced with additional string performances giving the piece a rich and wonderfully lavish style and persona. The tender nuances composed by Remo Anzovino within this cue are in a word stunning, they are filled with a delicate and affecting style that is romantic but at the same time purveys a mood or atmosphere that is fragile and totally consuming.
Track number five, I WILL LEAVE , is a more downbeat cue with strings introducing the track, but the low key and near sombre atmosphere, alters as the composer brings into play more strings and the gentle use of percussion and solo violin, the music gains pace slightly but never reaches its crescendo as it reverts back to a more calming and tranquil piece as it reaches its conclusion. Track number six, PARADISE LOST is the piano solo version of the piece, again it is a beautifully executed performance by the composer, the seven-note motif is lovingly played and oozes with elegance and charm. Track number seven, BACK TO THE ROOTS, is another cue that is slow builder, the composer again turning to the string section to create the foundation and introduction, whilst adding other elements both electronic, percussive, choral and symphonic as the composition unfolds and progressively builds. Electronic and conventional instrumentation working in unison to fashion a melodic and powerful track which has to it an inspiring sound. The score features a handful of soloists, these include, flautist Fabio Mina, percussionist Marco Zanotti, cellist Anselmo Pelliccioni and Violinist Federico Mecozzi. The score is a delightful and sophisticated collection of themes which underscore, support and enhance the production and add to it a greater atmosphere and depth.

FRIDA VIVA LA VIDA.
This is a movie that explores both parts of Frida Kahlo’s personality. We see her human side as in a person who is a victim of her tortured body and of her tormented and difficult relationship and also the film focuses upon her pioneering artistic career and her involvement with feminism. Asia Argento narrates and as the film progresses, we begin to understand the dual personality of this complicated but brilliant individual. The film utilises Frida’s own words and makes use of her letters, which are mixed with interviews and other documentation. Of, course it also shows many of her paintings, which are on display and stored in many of Mexico’s amazing museums and galleries. The score for this movie in particular is I think one of the composers most varied, it also is one that sounds as if it contains more synthetic than symphonic, but this adds to the impact and also the entertainment value when listening to it away from the movie. There are rich and vibrant pieces and also Latin flavoured passages scattered throughout the soundtrack as well as vocal performances and jazz orientated tracks performed by an easy sounding trumpet which is punctuated by piano as in YO ME PINTO or accompanied by strings in the impressively rich and emotive, FRIDITA (Adagio for trumpet and strings) classical guitar performances also bring much to the overall sound of the score, as in the track MEXICAN LANDSCAPE. It is a score that is filled with such a wealth of thematic properties, the composer being highly inventive in his approach to the subject matter. There are delicate musical poems such as HOW FAR I. LL FLY, CHILDREN WE WONT HAVE and PEONY, with apprehensive but touching compositions that include, EACH TIME I WAS BORN. and upbeat pieces such as WALKING IN MEXICO and BROKEN HEART TANGO.

No matter which way you view film music or music in film, there is very little doubt that Maestro Remo Anzovino is a master at his craft and I for one look forward to more from him.   MMI/JOHN MANSELL(C) 2019. 

URSUS E LA RAGAZZA TARTARA. released Kronos records June 2019.

http://kronosrecords.com/KG31.html

KG31

SWORD, SANDAL OR ADVENTURE?

The collection of films that fall into the PEPLUM or SWORD AND SANDAL genre, as produced in Italy at the famous Cinecitta studios are for many an acquired taste, during the late 1960’s many of these movies found their way into British cinemas as a B feature or a support act if you will for the main film that was on the programme. Consequently, many of these Greek, Roman and Epic orientated movies were edited and edited harshly, in fact many being cut to the degree where the storyline and the continuity of the films were affected dramatically. Several the movies were produced as either spin offs or on the back of the success of the more popular Hollywood biblically slanted films such as THE ROBE and BEN HUR, plus taking their inspiration from films such as SPARTACUS. Of course, the budgets in Italy were not as big as Hollywood studios so this was reflected in the finished products. The Peplum threw up many variations of stories about characters such as Hercules, Goliath and others, at times the genre crossing over into other areas such as sci-fi and horror, which although rather odd always had to them a high level of entertainment value and were popular with audiences initially in Europe then outside of the continent. Film makers in Italy such as Sergio Corbucci cut his directorial teeth on creating sword and sandal yarns for the cinema and of course went onto be leading figures within the Italian Western genre and beyond, many directors, producers, screenwriters and actors that enjoyed success on Peplums, would also become stalwarts within other genres that were later created at Cinecitta. Although referred to as a SWORD AND SANDAL adventure, URSUS AND THE TARTAR PRINCESS or URSUS E LA RAGAZZA TARTARA-aka-TARTAR INVASION was not strictly a film that I would personally call a Peplum, because it was set in the 16000’s, at the time of the Polish/Tartar wars which was hundreds of years after the Romans and the Greeks. The film was a French/Italian co-production and starred Italian actor Ettore Manni and in the female lead Yoko Tani. The movies only real connection with the SWORD AND SANDAL genre was the name of URSUS in its title. The movie was for me somewhat disjointed and confusing at certain points, but this is probably due to the unsympathetic editing on the version I was seeing. Tartars from Crimea, attack Christians in Poland and in one of these attacks the Tartars capture the son of Ursus and take him to the Crimea where he is uncastrated.

Prince Stefan played by Ettore Manni is sent with a handful of soldiers to spy upon the Tartars, he is accompanied by Ursus who is anxious to bring his son back home. It is not long before Prince Stefan and his men are captured by Tartars who are led by Sulaiman (Tom Felleghy). But Sulaiman’s daughter Princess Ila (Yoko Tani) falls in love with Stefan and because of this Sulaiman spares Stefan on condition he converts to Muslim ways. Stefan however is strong willed, and it is the Princess who converts to Christianity so that she may marry Stefan. Ursus is re-united with his son but things do not end here, the Khan of the Tartars arrives and decides that the Princess should wed his son instead. Stefan and Ursus escape with Ursus’s son and the Princess and make their way to Poland. The Khan and his soldiers pursue them and there is a major battle in which the stories outcome is decided.

Kronos
THE MUSIC.
The musical score for the movie is by Italian Maestro Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, who composed numerous scores for the Peplum genre as well as writing extensively for Romantic tales, Westerns and Adventure films. Lavagnino wrote a rich and melodic score for URSUS AND THE TARTAR PRINCESS that is filled with dramatic and fast paced interludes, but it also has to it a warm and romantic sound, in which the composer employs lush strings and subdued but melodic and affecting woodwinds, that combine to create a wonderfully luxurious sound. The composer also utilises choral passages which inject and purvey an atmosphere that is filled with a distinctly religious mood. Lavagnino evokes the style of the Hollywood film score within this epic sounding work, recalling the styles of composers such as Miklos Rozsa, Franz Waxman and Alfred Newman with his majestic symphonic soundtrack. The composers clever use of brass and percussion is prominent for most of the work and it is this combination that creates the grandiose aura of the score.

ursusragtartar02
THE OPENING TITLES, for example begin with brass flourishes that are underlined and pushed along by driving strings, interspersed by timpani and percussion the composer fashioning an urgent but at the same time regal sounding piece, the cue however soon slows and changes direction and style, Lavagnino creating a distinctive Eastern European flavour, via the use of balalaika and supporting this with strings, horns and gentle percussive sounds. The track MICHAEL ABDUCTED is a short-lived piece, but affecting, initially it is a quiet and low-key composition, but this alters as the action on screen also changes, the composer enlisting brass and percussion to create a more threatening and robust musical scenario. For a score that was originally recorded fifty-eight years ago the sound and style is remarkably good, Lavagnino utilises lilting tone poems alongside tense and dramatic pieces to generate a rich and vibrant work.

 

Lavagnino

ANGELO FRANCESCO LAVAGNINO.
Born in Genoa Italy on February 22nd, 1909, Lavagnino, came from a musical family and was attracted to film music from an early age when he heard an orchestra accompany a silent movie. In many film music connoisseurs opinions Lavagnino was one of the Fathers of Italian film music, an innovator and a highly talented and original music-smith he graduated from the Giuseppe Verdi music conservatory in Milan, with a diploma in violin and composition and spent much of his early career working as a musician in orchestras that were performing in the concert halls and opera houses in Italy. Whilst doing this he also began to teach music and it was during this period that Lavagnino decided to start to compose music for film, his first foray into film scoring came in 1947 when he wrote the music for the comedy drama, NATALE AL CAMPO 119, which was directed by Pietro Francisci and starred Vittorio de Sica. As the 1950, s began Lavagnino started to become known within his native Italy as a composer of great talent producing music of high quality and also he was able to adapt to any genre or style of film. He also continued to teach music at this time and helped other composers come to grips with the technicalities of film scoring, one such composer was Francesco De Masi who he not only tutored but engaged as an assistant for a few years. The composers first major film scoring assignment came in 1951 when he provided the soundtrack for OTHELLO which was directed by Orson Welles, Lavagnino also scored the actor/directors FALSTAFF-CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT in 1965 and it was probably because of his first collaboration with Welles that the composer began to be offered assignments on bigger budget productions which included non-Italian movies such as Henry Hathaway’s action, drama, adventure LEGEND OF THE LOST, which starred John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Rossano Brazzi in 1957, the Italian/American co-production ESTHER AND THE KING for Director Raoul Walsh in 1960 and the British made monster movie, GORGO in 1961. Lavagnino seemed to excel when he wrote music for documentaries and won awards for his work in this area of film. At the Cannes film festival in 1955 he was nominated for the Palme d’Or for his music to CONTINENTE PERDUTO and won the special jury prize at the same festival for the score. In the same year he won the Silver ribbon award for his score to CONTINENTE PERDUTO which came from The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. In 1956 his stunning score for L’IMPERO DEL SOLE (EMPIRE IN THE SUN) garnered him another nomination from the film journalists and in 1957 he was awarded the silver ribbon from the same organisation for his music to VERTIGINE BIANCA (WHITE VERTIGO).

Lavagnino was Sergio Leone’s first choice of composer when the filmmaker was in pre-production on A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, but the director was persuaded to engage a lesser known young composer named Ennio Morricone, because the film’s distributor felt that Morricone would be a better choice. One wonders if the music for the Italian western genre would have evolved in a different way or indeed would have been as successful as it was if Lavagnino had scored the first Leone western. I say this because although Lavagnino’s music was always highly original it was certainly more classical in its style and sound than Morricone’s and often leaned towards a more Americanized or conventional sound as in Dimitri Tiomkin and Max Steiner with some elements of what can now be deemed as being Spaghetti infused passages. After A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lavagnino created numerous western scores and put his own unmistakable musical fingerprint upon them. In the latter part of 1964 and throughout 1965, Lavagnino composed the score for 5000 DOLLARI SULL’ASSO which was his first foray into the Euro-western Arena, in addition to this he penned the scores to, THE TRAMPLERS, L’UOMO DALLA PISTOLA D’ORO, THE MAN FROM CANYON CITY, OCASO DE UN PISTOLERO, SEVEN HOURS OF GUNFIRE, JOHNNY WEST IL MANCINO, SOLO CONTRO TUTTI and the comedy western I DUE SERGENTI DEL GENERALE CUSTER. He also provided music too at least another seven western movies over the next few years one of the last was, SAPEVANO SOLO UCCIDERE in 1971. Lavagnino scored over 300 movies during his illustrious career, which included, URSUS AND THE TARTAR PRINCESS, THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, CONSPIRACY OF HEARTS, FIVE BRANDED WOMEN, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII, THE LOST CONTINENT, THE NAKED MAJA, VENERE IMPERIALE, L’ULTIMO PARADISO and THE WIND CANNOT READ, and was responsible for creating some of cinemas most haunting and atmospheric soundtracks for Italian and international productions, his music supporting, enhancing, ingratiating and in certain cases almost caressing the movie or project he was involved with. The composer passed away in Gavi, Italy on August 21st, 1987.

j mansell (c)2019.

OMA MAA.

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM KRONOS RECORDS.

http://kronosrecords.com/K92.html
omamaa

 

Finnish film maker Markku Polonen has created a stunning looking movie in the form of OMA MAA (HOMELAND). The story focuses upon Finland from the end of the second world war in 1945 through to 1952 which was the year of the Helsinki Olympics and concentrates on the two central characters, Anni played by Oona Airola and Veikko portrayed by Konsta Laasko who against the backdrop of difficult and testing times fall in love, their relationship is tested when Veikko who was wounded during the war becomes ill. Finland had fought long and hard in the second world war firstly against Russia and then against the Third Reich. This period directly after the war years was a difficult time in Finland as they had to re-settle over 450.000 evacuees and also care for war invalids from Karelia. The country also had the task of building 100,000 new homes. OMA MAA is a touching and dramatic tale which is superbly crafted and directed, the movie having a high level of production standards in all areas. The musical score is the work of composer Pessi Lovanto who has created a romantically laced soundtrack that is delicate, sweeping and lush. The composer is one of the most prominent and sought after in his home country of Finland but is most certainly expanding his work internationally. The composer has written the scores for fifteen motion pictures and his approach to writing film music is a fusion of both vintage styles and more contemporary colours and methods. He also has a musical identity outside of the world of film music as Lovanto acts as a conductor and is a talented and innovative arranger. One of his most successful non-film music projects was with the Helsinki Philharmonic with CLASSICAL TRANCELATIONS, where the orchestra performed club classics. He has also been responsible for writing a number of chart topping songs for Korean and Japanese artists such as ARASHI and THE AFTERSCHOOL.

 

PESSI2
THE COMPOSER ON THE SCORE.
Interview with John Mansell.
Can I begin by asking you how you became involved on Oma Maa?

“I have made music for three films before for the production company Solar Films, the biggest one in Finland. Their producer Rimbo Salomaa, with whom we had worked on a previous film ”Unexpected Journey”, wanted to bring me in to this project as he though my style would work well with this world. So I had the luxury of getting a direct call from the producer.”

The score is very melodic and lush in places but also contains some nice jazz sounding cues, what size orchestra did you use for the recording?

“We used a professional Finnish orchestra called Tapiola Sinfonietta which is about 45 players. I did the jazz cues separately and had drums, bass, guitar and piano pre-recorded elsewhere. This style of jazz, called foxtrot in it’s time, was rather popular in Finland at the time when the story takes place. I also had one folk-style violin to do some solo lines on top of the orchestra to give a slight folk-music vibe in places.”
At what stage of the production did you become involved, and was the director specific as to what style of music you should compose and how much time did you have to complete the score?

“They had shot the summer scenes in July-August of 2017 and were to shoot the winter scenes in March 2018. I was brought in in November 2017 and started discussing initial ideas with the director. He had some preferences and reference tracks he liked and I began to make some demos of the main themes based on that. He likes the oboe a lot so I put that in quite a bit. Also he made it clear that its a melodrama and that I should not shy away from being lush in the right places. It always takes some time to come up with a core idea you believe is strong enough to carry many repetitions but once that is done, it gets a lot easier and the score begins to write itself. I got a cut of the film (minus the winter scenes) in early January 2018 and wrote all those cues in January and February. Then after the winter shooting they edited those scenes in and I wrote some new music for the inserted scenes. So actually we had plenty of time considering how quickly film scores have to be done sometimes.”

PESSI
How much music did you write for the movie and is the entire score on this Compact disc or is it a selection of cues that are representive of the music in the movie and did you have any part in assembling what cues were to be used on the release?

“The CD has all the music I wrote for the film. Being an European indie film there is not that much music compared to a fantasy or animation but if you see the film I think you’ll agree that it’s a good idea since the music really has some meaning and impact when it comes in after a period of no music.”
Was the movie temp tracked at all and do you find the use of this tool by film makers helpful or distracting?

”I had made demos in the early phase and they used those for the edit. I was really happy that they didn’t use much temp music as it often presents a real problem for the composer. ”Temp track love” is a major challenge to the composer and the sooner we can get rid of the temp track the better. I usually try to avoid this by writing demos beforehand which they can use in the edit or submit some of my own music from previous films for that purpose as it’s much easier for me to replace my own music than John Williams’ music.”

PESSI1
You conducted the score, do you normaly conduct all your own film music and also do you carry out the orchestration?

”I conduct my own scores whenever possible. Sometimes when done abroad it’s not practical if the players don’t speak English so then it’s better if a local conductor does it. I had an assistant in this project who cleaned up my midi files from my Cubase sessions I had used to make demos for the director but then I orchestrated the cues myself after that. Orchestration is something I really enjoy and consider a bit of a speciality so I like to do that myself if time permits.