Tag Archives: KRONOS

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

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.


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.









THE WINGED SERPENT or Q THE WINGED SERPENT as it is also known, is one of those movies that one must see, ok, it may not be Oscar material, but it is made in the style of many vintage horror flicks. In this case there is a monster on the loose in the form of Quetzalcoatl, who is a winged serpent that was worshipped by the Aztecs, the flying monster has taken up residence in New York and is snatching construction workers and the like to sustain its self.


Enter then a small-time crook, called Jimmy Quinn played convincingly by actor Michael Moriarty, who gives a wonderfully edgy and nervous performance. Quinn discovers the nest of the serpent and when he is caught for a robbery uses the information to barter his way out of going to jail. Two of New York’s finest detectives Shepard and Powell played by David Carradine (Kung Fu) and Richard Rountree (Shaft) who are already investigating a spate of mysterious deaths on high rise buildings and the discovery of skinned corpse’s in the City, decide to investigate Jimmy’s wild claims and to their amazement discover he is telling the truth. The movie itself is something of a tribute to monster movies of yester-year where a predatory creature runs amok in the city and destroys and devours the population. Filled with tension, comedy and a rather rubbery looking flying serpent which is created via the stop-motion animation process, THE WINGED SERPENT maybe cliched and draws upon scenarios and situations that have been utilised before within many Hollywood movies of the B variety. Saying this however, these scenarios and situations work.



The movies fast moving but highly implausible storyline entertains and keeps the audience interested. Director Larry Cohen successfully mixes science fiction with horror and incorporates a crime caper and the down to earth New York locations with the horror/science fiction elements to create a low budget but interesting and appealing motion picture. The musical score by composer Robert O Ragland lends much to the films storyline and underlines, punctuates and supports the action unfolding on screen effectively, the composer has to a certain degree re-created the style and sound that we associate with horror pictures from the 1950’s and 1960’s, the WINGED SERPENT having an eerie and somewhat foreboding sounding musical motif, that accompanies and introduces the creature each time it is on screen or about to make an entrance. The music is powerful and works with the movie without being too overpowering. The composers brooding and at certain points explosive score becoming an important and integral component of the overall effectiveness of the film.



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The soundtrack was originally released in the United States on the Cerebus recording label (CST 0206), when the company issued a 21 track LP of the music with stunning front cover art work back in 1983, the score was then made available on a compact disc when CAM records in Italy issued the disc as a limited edition as part of their Soundtrack Encyclopaedia series with an additional cue. Robert Oliver Ragland was born on July 3rd, 1931, in Chicago Illinois. He is known for his film scores and associated for creating effective soundtracks for several low budget B movies. The composer was originally in advertising but decided to take a chance and try to break into writing music for films and television.


Composer Robert O Ragland.

His career in Hollywood began in 1968 and during his thirty-year career the composer penned the scores for over fifty motion pictures. His interest in music began when he was a young boy, the composer playing the piano and later when he was in school he would organize performances by dance bands. He served in the U.S. Navy for a few years and after this enrolled at the North Western University from where he graduated. After this Ragland became an arranger for the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra and whist doing this gained degrees and awards in music from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Ragland also attended the Academy of Music in Vienna. After the death of Tommy Dorsey, Ragland returned to the world of advertising, but this was short lived, and he returned to music and began to write for film once again working on films such as, SEVEN ALONE, ABBY, PONY EXPRESS RIDER, SHARKS TREASURE, 10 TO MIDNIGHT and many others, Q THE WINGED SERPENT amongst them. The composer also acted as musical director for Awards shows such as the Oscars and the Emmy’s. he retired from the music industry in 2005. Robert O Ragland dies on April.18th 2012, at the Cedars Sinai Medical Centre, in Los Angeles California.

John Mansell. Movie Music International. ©2018.

pre order at Kronos records. release date August 25th 2018.


1. Q: Main Title
2. Filet Of Human Soul
3. Blood Drops From The Sky
4. Jewellery Heist
5. Chrysler Building
6. Womb At The Top
7. Corpse In The Rafters
8. He Crawls, He Flies
9. The Winged Serpent
10. Crunch, Crunch
11. Joan Learns The Ugly Truth
12. A Bird’s Eye View – Manhattan
13. Shep’s Report Dumped
14. Troops Prepare – Giant Omelette
15. Prime Suspect
16. Ritual In The Warehouse
17. Big Birds Last Stand
18. Witchdoctor’s Revenge
19. Another Stab At It
20. Chicken Or The Egg
21. Q – Main Title
22. Dancing Too Close To The Flame
23. Blood Drops From The Sky (alt)
24. Jewelry Heist (alt)
25. Chrysler Building (alt)
26. Lunch Break
27. Horrible Pictures
28. He Crawls, He Flies (alt)
29. Q Sighting
30. Jewel Hide
31. Pushups – Back Home
32. Quinn Detained
33. Joan Learns The Ugly Truth (alt)
34. Quinn Thrown Out
35. Good Old Fashioned Monster
36. End Title
37. Ritual Preparations
38. The Ritual
39. Suite
40 . Let’s Fall Apart Together Tonight



The story of MICHAEL STROGOFF is a popular one and also is a tale that has been committed to celluloid on more than 30 occasions either as a television project, a silent movie or as a feature film, the first of these was a silent version produced in 1914 and was made in The United States. Based on the novel from 1876 by Jules Verne, it is a tale of high adventure, filled with action, drama and romance. The book when first published was hailed as the best story that Verne had written. The musical score for this particular incarnation of the story (1999) is every bit as adventurous, exciting, fast paced and dramatic as the storyline itself. The soundtrack is filled to overflowing with haunting melodies, fearsome action cues literally is brimming with affecting leitmotifs and thematic properties that accompany the main protagonists as the story unfolds and develops. Monsignor, Scholar and composer Marco Frisina’s score is an epic sounding work, which is grandiose and robust but also has the ability to become intimate and melancholy, it posses a fragility and also a emotive side that is attractive, poignant and powerful. Frisina was Born in Rome in 1954, he studied music at the Conservatory of Saint Cecilia and was ordained as a Priest in 1982.


He has scored numerous TV and feature film productions and written Oratorios, Masses and Hymns for the Vatican, during his career he has collaborated with a number of high profile artists, Ennio Morricone being one of these.
The Maestro provides the production with a lush and imposing score that at certain points within the proceedings evokes the Style and the atmosphere of the vintage movie soundtracks of Hollywood, by this I mean it has real themes and is beautifully crafted and orchestrated.
The opening theme for example is a rousing, strident and proud piece, written for brass and strings that are underlined rumbling percussion which when combined set the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. Frisina’s theme for the marauding Tartars is also an impressive one and includes driving strings that are embellished by percussive elements and timpani and driven on even harder by the utilisation of wild brass and wistful sounding woodwind that are punctuated and given more vigour and impact by crashing cymbals, the composer creating an urgent and unmerciful sounding piece that seems to be relentless. Then we have the theme for Strogoff’s wife NADIA which is a text book Frisina sounding composition if indeed there is such a thing, a delicate and gorgeously alluring melody is carried by the string section and underlined and enhanced by lilting woodwind and harp, mid way through the piece there is a stunning guitar solo that picks out the core theme and adds a atmosphere of calm before the cue then changes its mood and direction becoming less melodious and adopting a more sinister and slightly threatening persona which is purveyed by sinewy strings and ominous and apprehensive woodwind. Frisina’s soundtrack is somewhat different to what we have become accustomed to from the composer, yes there are a number of striking thematic moments present but it also brings into focus the darker elements and a greater sense of foreboding in places and an there is an underlying ambience that can be likened to certain scores from Eastern Europe by the likes of Kilar for example. The composer utilises the Balalaika at times which reminds one of the sound that is achieved by Maurice Jarre in Dr Zhivago, predictable ? Maybe, but affective, there are so many themes and addictively melodious passages within the work it is hard to take them all in on first hearing the score. The composer makes effective use of a number of solo instruments throughout the work to bring forth a richness and a lavishly emotive sound which invades ones subconscious.


This is demonstrated perfectly in track number 6, CANTO TZIGANO, a mesmerising solo viola is accompanied by woodwind and then gradually given support by the full string section treating us to a stunning and totally absorbing piece. Track number 8 NEL CUORE DI MICHELE is also a standout cue, Frisina again turning to the solo guitar theme which we heard briefly within NADIA,S THEME, this time however it is accompanied by romantically laced strings with the support of subdued percussion.

The music has up until now only been available digitally as a download, this edition released by Kronos records being the first actual compact disc release of the score. So it’s a score that you should really add to your collection. This is an exclusive review and will be released by Kronos records very soon.


Born in Caracas Venezuela, Sergio Pena, is a composer, musician, performer who is able to slip into any genre of film and enhance it to perfection with his musical skills. The music-smith studied both classical and electric guitar as well as piano and composition, orchestration and jazz arranging so he has a wide range of musical knowledge and skills which he has put to use during his career. He began his life in music by playing in a band where he would perform pop, rock and funk. As his musical interest grew he moved more in the direction of classical music and also was attracted to jazz. He marks as his influences from the classical world Beethoven, Stravinsky and Bach and from the world of film music Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Thomas Newman. He has written the music for over 60 projects, these include motion pictures, shorts and television assignments that include a number of documentaries, he has also acted as an orchestrator at times for other composers as well as penning songs and providing additional music for a handful of projects.


When I was a child I listened to music in the church every Sunday and I also used to sing. I don’t remember much contact with music at the times. One day a friend commented that she intended to enroll for the music conservatory; I wanted too and dreamed of becoming a conductor! However, I would have to wait a long time to start studying music, and conducting even though, to be honest, a baton isn’t a priority in my career nowadays.

Well, at first I composed traditional pieces as school Exercises. Nowadays I focus only on film music though I’ve written some source music for scoring purpose. I find such a great inspiration from the images that I couldn’t figure out music without visual support. I should spend a some time writing for “absolute music” but my time belongs to the scoring work.


There are two approaches in the Met in NYC score. On the one hand, as an Indie film we were limited by a low budget production and therefore we couldn’t afford an living orchestra so virtual instruments were used instead. I wanted an organic score and so I included my own guitar performance mixed over virtual strings, which I think worked fine together. On the other hand, A second approach included the recording of live musicians performing a jazz combo and another two tracks performed by the great piano soloist Abe Rábade. I felt we needed vital energy from experienced jazz musicians to bring out the spirit of NYC, and we got it!


One day I received an email from a director asking me to write a score for his film. I was surprised on how well he knew my career, his comments about my work were very kind and he insisted that I was the right composer for his movie, I was informed in detail about Met in NYC and I really liked it.
As usual I started in post-production, I love reading screenplays but always work more accurately watching the rough cut, music must work with what you are watching, the screenplay could let you a broader field to an evocation that could might not work well

Yes I do, in an early stage, the piano is my choice as it is a very direct instrument to extract my ideas, I usually say put my hands on my piano while watching the screen to compose the score, yet ironically there’s a random factor in the process. In some other cases I take my pencil and write melodies sitting at the piano to check the result. Anyway, after finishing the sketch I’d write or enter orchestration on it to create a score according to the project.


Definitely I do on most of them.some productions which ask for piano, guitar, bass and keyboards can be carried out without any other musicians but me. Obviously, in a live orchestra project, I’d stay in the booth during the recording.


Unfortunately I’ve just worked in a few TV shows so my experience can be quite personal ,Deadlines are tighter so producers prefer source music or tracks you own in your personal “library” rather than ask for a tailored track you have to write from the scratch. I think TV time is always ruling the work flow every time you have to write what a director or producer asks for. So I definitively prefer to work on a motion picture.

I usually start writing a theme and then another one so that I can select best choices for main theme, secondary themes and also background. Once the musical sketches are written I create variations of them to fit along the scenes accordingly with to the leit motifs or scene moods.
Yes, I was but a good selection couldn’t have been made if my friend Godwin Borg from Kronos Records hadn’t helped me by supporting and advising me; he’s an expert editor and a true music lover, I’m very lucky to have a friend like Godwin.


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I have to begin this review by stating that I am probably not the most receptive person when it comes to movies from this genre in Italian cinema, but we cannot judge the quality of the musical score on the calibre of the film it was written for. We are all aware that there have been some wonderful film scores written that have faded into obscurity simply because the movies they were intended to support have simply been so bad that they have been instantly forgotten. COL FERRO E COL FUOCO (with fire and swords) is set in the seventeenth century during the Ukrainian uprising against Polish conquerors, and is an enjoyable romp which does verge on being epic in its proportions and scenarios, it however does fall slightly short of Hollywood movies that were set in the same period. But saying this it most certainly did not have the same budget or even close to the budget that American producers were allowed to make their movies. The musical side of things however seems to have stood well the test of time and to do this proves that the soundtrack was something that probably outshone the film it was intended to enhance. Written by two musical giants of the Italian film music world Maestro Francesco de Masi and Maestro Giovanni Fusco, De Masi in particular was in later years to become one of the most sought after composers of film music in both Italy and Europe, with the odd excursion into scoring and conducting music for American productions, De Masi is probably best known for his scores for the Italian western genre or the Spaghetti Western, but this composer worked in more or less every genre and created so many wonderful highly thematic soundtracks fusing the style that we associate with the Hollywood establishment i.e. grand sweeping passages and highly dramatic and tense interludes with a style and sound that was all his own, De Masi,s sound I think was unique as he did not rely solely upon the sound or the style that was being adopted and employed by numerous composers that were working in film in Italy during the early 1960,s, instead he actually took that style and amalgamated it with the already established epic formula as adopted by tinsel town thus creating a whole new sound. Fusco too worked steadily within the Italian film music industry and although not so much in demand as De Masi still managed to create some memorable works for Italian productions.


WITH FIRE AND SWORDS was released in 1962, and the soundtrack was sadly never released in any format, thanks to Kronos records we can now savour the delights of the driving and robust score. Written mainly for brass and strings the work contains heroic and highly dramatic themes that are supported and given even more emphasize by rumbling percussive elements, woodwind and crashing cymbals, the score also contains its more intimate and romantic influences and these are richly purveyed by the string section and also plaintively relayed by soothing sounding woodwind and heartrending solo violin. But it is the brass section that has the lions share of the work to do within the score, in many ways the music from WITH FIRE AND SWORDS evoked memories of two scores by composer Dasan Radic, THE LONG SHIPS and also GHENGIS KHAN, there is so much going on brass fanfares, brass stabs, dramatic percussion booming out and rolling along underlining the action, then full on lush and lavish themes of a romantic nature seem to segue into the proceedings seamlessly giving the work depth and also a haunting and lavish musical foundation. Its hard to tell who composed what or who was responsible for what within the score, but styles and sounds that are now synonymous with both De Masi and Fusco can be heard during the soundtracks duration. This is one to look out for, again a wonderful production from Kronos, with interesting and very personal notes by Filippo De Masi and attractive art work. Recommended.