Tag Archives: nic raine

IS PARIS BURNING?

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Many years ago when I was a lot younger and soundtracks were not so readily available or at least limited in what was issued, it was shall we say acceptable to buy a cover version of a score, this was at times down to the original not being available or if it was it was an import and had been deleted very quickly. Even at times when soundtracks were available, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA for example many people who were not actual film music collectors would opt for the cheaper cover version, nowadays I pleased to say that cover versions or re-recordings of scores from films are a lot better than they were in the days of MFP (although I am not knocking that label in anyway) and even HALLMARK released some pretty good covers and originals THE BIG COUNTRY for example. The re-recordings of today are in most cases excellent as attention is paid to reconstructing scores that have parts missing or sections that have never been previously released, in fact the only way to hear the entire score is to sit and watch the movie that it comes from. Re-recordings I think stepped up a gear when Silva Screen stepped into the re-recording market and also let us not forget the wonderful series of classic film score as recorded by Charles Gerhardt and the RCA label. But for me it was Silva screen and the Hammer soundtracks that had never seen the light of day became available as re-recordings, yes ok this was a compilation of themes and principal cues from a handful of Hammer movies such as DRACULA, VAMPIRE LOVERS, VAMPIRE CIRCUS, HANDS OF THE RIPPER etc. But they were very authentic and left us the collector wanting more, in fact it was the re-recordings by Silva that inspired the GDI label to seek out the original scores from these Hammer horrors and we all know what an excellent series that turned out to be. But, it’s the re-recording that I am focusing upon. Maurice Jarre has always been a favourite of mine and I am proud and privileged to say I met him many times both at concerts, premieres and privately and after a while became friends with him. His music has been a big part of my life as a collector of movie music in fact it was LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that started my (for want of a better word) addiction to film music. The composer had the knack of not only creating dramatic and supportive scores for movies but he also was able to produce a theme that invariably became popular away from the film it was intended to enhance. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO being a prime example in the form of SOMEWHERE MY LOVE Lara’s theme.

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The latest re-recording to hit the news is the TADLOW release of Jarre’s IS PARIS BURNING? Now although I have always been aware of the theme I have to state that the score was not a favourite of mine, the original LP record is still in the collection and in new condition, which shows how many times I actually played it.

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But after a lot of buzz about this re-recording conducted by Nic Raine and performed by THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA I decided to get myself a copy, and yes I am so glad I did. As always the attention to accuracy and detail that is displayed in other TADLOW recordings is also present here but even more so in my opinion. I suppose that because I did not actually listen to the score that often when it was issued all those years ago I can in effect listen to it with fresh ears and an open mind, what I am hearing is a wonderfully atmospheric and thematic soundtrack, which is performed to perfection by what has to be one of the globes leading film music orchestras. The compact disc opens with THE OVERTURE, which itself opens with a fairly typical Jarre sound and style, piano and percussion building with aggressive sounding brass whilst the composer introduces a variant of the familiar central theme from the score, this segues nicely into a more martial sounding piece with strings and flutes working together to bring to the fore a march theme and then on accordion we hear for the first time the haunting and highly melodic theme for the movie, this is bolstered and given weight by timpani and strings that transform it from martial into a flamboyant and almost joyous waltz type composition which brings the track to a shimmering and uplifting conclusion. This re-recording boasts a lot of previously unreleased cues 22 in all if I counted correctly. So definitely a complete edition of this soundtrack and one that will fit in very nicely with the rest of Jarre’s moving and highly attractive film soundtrack releases on the TADLOW label, we have James Fitzpatrick to thank for all these wonderful releases but I am sure he will say NOT JUST ME, and when you look back on film music history with re-recordings or even soundtrack releases we can invariably get a glimpse of his name on other releases, i.e. Silva Screen with their Hammer series etc. His contributions to film music as a producer have been many and also as a conductor too.

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But I digress, back to IS PARIS BURNING, let it be sufficient to say just go buy it, you certainly will have PAS DE REGRETS (sorry could not resist). As for me not being struck with the original soundtrack by Jarre maybe I was having an off day or I went deaf for a while because this is a glorious score, superbly written and filled to overflowing with so much patriotism and power, you must have it in your collection. The double CD also contains a handful of other Maurice Jarre scores or suites from them. There are concert suites from THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, THE TRAIN, WEEKEND AT DUNKIRK and also IS PARIS BURNING plus we are treated to the opening titles from THE DAMNED and two bonus tracks which are vocals from IS PARIS BURNING. PARIS EN COLERE sung by Melinda Million and also a choral version of the same piece. Exhaustively extensive sleeve notes by Frank D Wald which are just so informative plus numerous stills and art work from the movie and pictures of Jarre and a front cover that cannot fail to attract anyone’s attention. So in a word FANTASTIQUE and UNE LIBERATION IMPORTANTE.

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NIC RAINE.

Nic Raine has conducted several orchestras in Europe including the English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, the Royal Scottish National and Ulster orchestras and the City of Prague Philharmonic, City of Granada Orchestra and Ljubljana Symphony Radio Orchestra elsewhere. He has worked as an arranger of film music with Elmer Bernstein, Maurice Jarre, Gabriel Yared, Michael Kamen, Georg Fenton, Mark Ayres, Stanislas Syrewicz and Stanley Myers on films like “A Passage to India”, Mad Max 3″, “Spies Like Us”, “Castaway”, “High Spirits”, “Top Secret” and “Madame Sousatzka”.

His work for television has included his orchestrations for the Wallace and Gromit animation films “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave” and the Channel 4 documentary “D W Griffith – Father of Film”.

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Many collectors associate you with the conducting of film music, as opposed to being a composer, what musical education did you receive?

Academically my musical education was rather basic: I took lessons in Piano, Organ, Classical Guitar and Double Bass and achieved an A level in Music. The education that since stood me in good stead came from self studying and practical experience. I worked at Boosey and Hawkes as a copyist and had enough free time there to ‘borrow’ scores from the shop and study them. I learnt a lot about orchestration from pouring over Mahler and Strauss scores – I devoured anything I could find and listened to as many recordings as I could afford to buy.

Later I moved into music management and worked as a ‘Fixer’ for the London Symphony Orchestra. This was a wonderful opportunity; not only did I learn about how an orchestra functions on a daily basis but I quizzed musicians about their instruments and what they could play. Orchestration books only take you to a ‘safe’ level of performance possibilities, in reality today’s players have techniques far beyond the text books. Being with them every day during rehearsals and performances taught me about the ‘sound’ of an orchestra and how the sections function individually and as an ensemble.

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Your name is always linked with the music of John Barry; you have conducted a great deal of his music, would you say that he has had a profound influence upon your career and inspired you?

I worked with John for about 14 years and have reconstructed and recorded many of his earlier scores. Of course I learned from him and there may well be some subliminal influences that I’ve absorbed. I admire the way he used melody as his primary composing tool rather than relying on effects or orchestration and had the courage to be simple rather than dazzle. His music is sincere and he was always true to himself.
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You have conducted film music and also recorded many scores and re-recordings of scores in various countries, do you have any preferences when it comes to a studio, an orchestra or a concert venue?

Of course, because I am so familiar with them, I love recording in Prague with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. I’ve often pondered on what a curious way to make a living conducting concerts is. One arrives in a strange city and has to stand in front of 70 – 80 strangers and wave one’s arms around, not knowing what the result will be. Sometimes it can be curiously detaching and, when everything comes together, completely involving. I love travelling and meeting new people and sharing musical experiences. I love pleasing an audience and spreading the Film Music news around the world. To directly answer your question, the orchestra and the venues I prefer are the ones at that particular moment.

DIE SPIONIN is a wonderful score, so lyrical and haunting, how did you become involved on the movie?

Thank you. I had worked with the director, Miguel Alexandre, previously on a German mini series called Der Mann mit dem Faggot and we hit it off. He says he only makes films so that he can have music written for them. He loves music and understands the power it has coupled to picture and he’s prepared to be adventurous and let his composers take him on a journey. He’s a joy to work for and I’m looking forward to more collaborations with him.
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Was film music something that you always wanted to be involved in?

Music is something I always wanted to be involved in. Whilst studying I assumed that composers always orchestrated their own music, to me that’s a natural part of composition. I was unaware of the commercial music world until I began copying and realised that this wasn’t the case largely due to the time pressures that are put on composers. I love the ‘sound’ of an orchestra and orchestrating and composing lets me be with this sound.

When experimenting and trying out musical ideas   how do you work them out, in your head, or do you write rough ideas down on paper or do you use a keyboard, piano or maybe pc?

When a theme comes into my head I write it down on paper so as not to forget it, or, hum it into my i-Phone if paper is not available. When writing I go straight into full score directly out of my head. I find composing at the piano too restrictive –  I don’t have enough hands or technique to play everything I want to hear and I find that my imagination more creative without the constraints of a keyboard.

How much music did you compose for DIE SPIONIN, and were you involved with the sequencing and compiling of the soundtrack compact disc?

I think I wrote about 80 minutes although it wasn’t all used. In the dub it became apparent it was pretty much wall to wall and we decided to give the audience a rest in places! I let my friend and colleague James Fitzpatrick compile the soundtrack album. He has so much experience at doing that and, at that stage, I think the composer needs objectivity.

How much time did you have to write the score for DIE SPIONIN and did the director have specific ideas as to what type of music or what style of music his film needed?

I think I had about three weeks. I read the script and visited some shooting in Budapest and talked with the actors beforehand. Using this insight I wrote lullaby theme for the female spy and mother character and the intrigue/love theme. I played them to Miguel before we began spotting – he liked them and so, during the spotting session, we decided where we could use them, or variations thereof, during the film. A lot of it was shot in a kind of Film Noir style –  dark and shadowy –  so I veered in that direction too. With budgets being so tight nowadays I think it’s important to be resourceful with one’s orchestra. There’s no value in having a full symphony orchestra with a small string section so I try to create a ‘sound’ for the music by having a slightly unusual line up. Bernard Hermann was a master at this. If your budget only lets you have 20 players then why not use 10 basses and 10 flutes? It won’t sound budget, just different. Fortunately, I wasn’t that constrained but I wanted brass and low winds to feature and to adjust my string orchestra accordingly.

Is the temp track a useful or distracting tool?

I think it depends on the temp track. If it gives you an idea of the mood wanted then it’s useful. For Spionin they used some of my music from a previous film. That was a bit frustrating because I didn’t want to just write the same music again.

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Where did you record the score for DIE SPIONIN, and what size orchestra did you have on the score?
We recorded in Prague and I had a Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets (both playing Bass Clarinet), 3 Horns and 3 Trombones, Percussion, Harp, Piano and Strings.

In your opinion what is the purpose of music in film?

To, in addition to the acting, filming and script, assist in telling the story. To add moods that cannot be conveyed by the aforementioned and, sometimes, conceal any weak moments.

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I have already mentioned John Barry, what other artists or composers from film or classical worlds would you say have influenced you and do you have a favourite score or a particular piece of music that you are fond of?

I admire Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. I like composers who can constantly re-invent themselves.

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Many composers find it better to have a conductor when scoring a movie so they can monitor proceedings from the booth, we all know you can conduct, but did you conduct the orchestra for DIE SPIONIN or did you opt to monitor from the booth ?

I conducted, it’s where I feel at home. I know how the music should sound in my head so I’m the best qualified to mould that in the room. Of course, that modus operandi only works well if you have people you can trust in the booth. In this case I was fortunate to have James Fitzpatrick and my assistant Rachel James producing for me.

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How many times do you watch a movie before you are satisfied that you can start to write the score or decide where music is to be placed etc?

Well the spotting can take place on your first viewing if a temp track has already been laid. When I’m composing I’ll watch a scene a couple of times and then ideas will formulate in my mind and it’s straight into writing into score on the computer. I can then play back against the picture and fine-tune.
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What are your earliest memories of any kind of music and were any of your family musically inclined?

My grandfather played violin, my grandmother piano and my father the organ. I wasn’t exposed to these influences at an early age though because I was brought up in Africa. My mother however is a great classical music fan and I remember the gramophone being played in the home. When we came back to England the ‘swinging sixties’ were just beginning so, like every other kid from that era, I was exposed to pop music.

What is your opinion on the state or condition of film music nowadays, and do you think the scores from today compare favourably with soundtracks from both the golden and silver age of film music?

No, I don’t think contemporary scores compare favourably at all. I’m not a ‘stick in the mud’ but film has changed and music along with it. I think Hollywood film music has become too generic and too influenced by what has been done before. This seems to make the talent of a composer judged by how well he can reproduce a sound rather than by any ability to innovate. European film music is different and it is still possible to be an individual here. I’m a huge fan of Bollywood film music, having worked on a few scores. They are so exuberant and willing to merge their musical culture with ours.

When you are working on a re-recording or reconstruction of a score, do you study the original manuscripts if they are available or listen to the music in the film or on a recording, ZULU for example, and do you try to remain faithful to the music in the movie or the music on the recording?

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If the original scores are available then, of course, that’s what I’ll study. Often they’re not and the score has to be transcribed by ear which is painstaking work but it gets you right into every nuance of the music. We try to be faithful to the original and to be musical too. Different orchestras and recording environments will influence how the final sound is as well as advances in technology so one cannot, and should not, be slavish.

When scoring a picture do you have a set pattern of working, do you start at the main theme and work through to the end titles or do you come up with a central theme first and base the remainder of the score around this ?

I like to have a couple of themes approved and up my sleeve and  I like to work through the film chronologically so that the music can develop at the same pace as the story. Practically, I add up how much music I have to write, divide it by the working days available and try to stick to my schedule, 5 minutes per day or whatever it is.

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Do you orchestrate your own music?

Yes, of course. The music I hear in my head is sounding orchestrated already. I was curious when working with Elmer Bernstein once. I was going through a sketch with him and asked him if he wanted a particular section on woodwinds or strings. He had no idea. That was an amazing insight, he was just writing, in this instance, music with no idea as to how it should sound.