The third and final chapter of the ATLAS SHRUGGED series begins after 12 years of suffering mysterious disappearances of society’s most-productive; the nation’s economy on the verge of collapse, the government pursues policies imposing even greater viciousness against those remaining. One man has the answer. One woman determined to keep the world running stands in his way. He swore by his life. She swore to stop him. Who is John Galt?
Composer Elia Cmiral scored the first movie in this trilogy ATLAS SHRUGGED and with this outstanding soundtrack makes a triumph and highly affecting return to the series of movies. His score is emotive, captivating and heartbreakingly alluring, filled with highly melodious tone poems that are fragile, delicate and sensitive. The work is brimming with luxurious and sweeping thematic material which lingers in ones mind long after the compact disc has finished playing. Flyaway and wistful woodwinds enhance lavish sounding strings and romantically laced piano solos throughout the score and it is quite simply a heart string tugging soundtrack.
The composer combining the string section with faraway sounding horns and further embellishing these elements with chorale support at key moments within the score. This for me is a return to pure romanticism and also a return to the way in which movies were scored many years ago. It contains solid and attractive themes that build, rise and burst forth creating emotion upon emotion and purveying a superb and salubrious sound sensation that envelopes the listener totally and completely mesmerises them. This is a side of the composer I have I must say not experienced before now, and I certainly like what I am hearing. Within the score there are also a handful of more dramatic and urgent cues, again the composer turning to the string section to create a driving and pressing atmosphere with subdued use of percussion adding depth and bringing a greater sense of determination and drama to the proceedings. But it is the gloriously rich themes purveyed by both strings and piano that make this score stand out, eloquent, opulent and hauntingly beautiful cues that will be returned to often I predict once heard. Definitely one for your collection.
THE MAID’S ROOM is the latest offering from film maker Michael Walker who wrote the screenplay and also directed the picture. The movie contains an accomplished and polished musical score which is the work of relative newcomer composer Arturo Rodriguez. The Mexican born maestro’s score works well on a number of levels, by this I mean that it works wonderfully as a film score and also it functions just as well as music on a stand alone basis away from any cinematic images. The films storyline is a tangled and tense one and the composer has underlined and matched the tense and involved scenario with a score that seems to weave its self around the web of deceit and lies that is unfolding before the watching audience, he underlines dramatic moments with dark and somewhat sinister chords and also enhances the softer periods within the movie with fragile and melodic tone poems. The music also acts as a smouldering and subdued accompaniment to the danger that is surrounding the films central character which is beginning to become more and more evident as the story progresses, a danger that she herself does not seem to be aware of. The composer’s slightly subdued but powerful underscore creating an ominous and brooding atmosphere, which is saying to the audience “All is not right here”. In a number of ways the score does rekindle memories of Jerry Goldsmith’s sensual and alluring music for BASIC INSTINCT and also has certain affiliations with the same composer’s soundtrack to MALICE. THE MAID’S ROOM is a steamy and edgy work, which although is for the most part like an alluring glowing ember in a dying fire still has the energy and vibrant capacity to at times burst into flames and deliver potent and commanding musical moments. The core theme which is also the foundation of the entire score is for the movies central character Drina who is the Maid in the title of the movie. She witnesses her affluent employee’s son coming in one night drunk and parking his damaged car in the garage which is next to her room. The next day she sees that there has been a hit and run and soon realises that it is the spoilt son that has been involved in the incident, Rodriguez’s haunting score mesmerises and delights and lulls one into a false sense of well being and security yet all the time is building tension and creating dark and thickly ominous tangled musical passages that are themselves elevating and embellishing the action on screen. The use of delicate solo piano within the score is particularly poignant and affecting and is attractively apparent in the opening of the score and also present in a fuller form in the final cue on the compact disc. Poignancy, drama, tension and romantic undertones what more could you possibly want. This is a score that I know will be popular with collectors and also I am confident that we will be hearing a lot more from Arturo Rodriguez.
Released in 2007, SAY IT IN RUSSIAN is I suppose a romance with dark undertones, Jacqueline, (Faye Dunaway) is a Paris society hostess who introduces a fellow American, businessman Andrew Lamont played by Steven Brand, to a young Russian girl, Daria Larina (Agata Gotova) while he is on holiday in Europe. Andrew is fascinated by Daria just as the canny Jacqueline knew he would be. He sends Daria flowers and takes her to dinner and generally makes it quite clear that he likes her a lot. Eventually she gives into his attentions and together they go to Moscow, where Andrew meets Daria’s father Raf who was at one time involved in the Mafia, but has now become a respectable minister of internal affairs in the Russian capital. Things do not go quite as Steven and Daria have planned but I will not spoil the intriguing storyline for you. The fully symphonic score by Turkish born composer Pinar Toprak is in a word stunning. Toprak has created a beautiful and wonderfully emotive soundtrack which has delicate and gentle nuances within its running time but also contains is fair share of sinister and dissonant sounding musical passages and influences, the score has a haunting and appealing charm to it and posses a quality that is very difficult to discover these days in the world of film music. The composer utilises predominantly solo violin with a sprinkling of piano to enhance and support, then at points within the work brings the piano more to the forefront of the proceedings, strings acting as support with a tantalizing touch of woodwind adding poignancy and melancholy. Strings play a major role but are never overpowering of the solo instruments and in no way take away the solo performances light or dampen the emotion and feeling that is created by the solo violin performances in particular within certain cues. The more dramatic cues or slightly atonal pieces are certainly ominous in their overall sound and establish a feeling of uneasiness and at times infuse a mood that is filled with foreboding and tension. Toprak I think is one of the very few composers that is working in film today who is able to write such expressive and emotive music, in fact her music graces the projects she scores rather than just supporting the images and scenarios on screen and fills each and everyone of these projects with beautifully constructed themes and meticulously inspired motifs. SAY IT IN RUSSIAN is a heart warming score for the majority of its duration, fragile and subdued full of sentiment and melody and dripping in poignant and delicious musicality. The opening cue of the compact disc A GRAND AFFAIR is a perfect scene setter for the remainder of the score, as it not only contains the more plaintive and melodious aspects of the score with its lilting and haunting seven note motif but also has some the soundtracks tense and nervous sounding dramatic style within it.
These darker influences and more atonal style of scoring continues in track number two, INTRUDER IN THE HOUSE/RUNNING HOME, edgy strings and percussive elements combine to create a nervy and apprehensive sounding piece, with woodwind used sparingly as punctuation of sorts to augment the strings . With track number three HAVE DINNER WITH ME we return to the more poignant scoring with strings and woodwind again combining to purvey a more relaxed and contented atmosphere. Track number four FIRST KISS is as one can imagine romantic and full of emotion, piano acting as the central instrument performing a eloquently beautiful theme that is given more intense depth, greater elevation and substance by a heartbreaking violin solo that is discreetly supported by soft woods. Toprak also employs female solo voice which is affecting and charming. SAY IT IN RUSSIA is a score that I employ you to buy, a score that is filled to the brim with gloriously fragile and delicately melodious themes and motifs and a score that will entertain and delight each and every one of you.
PENNY DREADFUL is a TV series that is a bringing together of all that is dark and evil, I found the series to be very disturbing in places and its sometimes offbeat and weird storylines did at times leave me sleeping with one eye open and looking under the bed or in the wardrobe for anything grotesque or malevolent that might be lurking. The series is set in London in the Victorian age, and it brings together some of gothic horrors most well know characters in again some weird and wonderful ways. The series storylines are based loosely upon the ideas that were originally spawned by authors such as Bram Stoker, Oscar Wild and also Mary Shelley, the series creator John Logan combined all of these macabre and chilling ideas and also added a few of his own along and took input from the Penny Dreadful magazines and came up with these thrilling, ingenious but highly disconcerting storylines. The central plot is that an American gunslinger Ethan Chandler played by Josh Harnet who is visiting England is persuaded by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) to assist an African explorer Sir Malcolm Murray portrayed by Timothy Dalton, who’s daughter Mina has been taken prisoner by what he believes to be a vampire. Murray also enlists the help of Victor Frankenstein. The fast paced and at times convincing storylines are marvellously put together and the performances by all the principal actors and supporting cast are a triumph. This is a dark and horrifying series but also is an attractive and engrossing one. The music for PENNY DREADFUL is courtesy of composer Abel Korzeniowski, who has over a relatively short period of time made quite a name for himself and is now considered by many as a film music composer of great talent and worth. One only has to take a fleeting listen to a handful of his scores to realise that we are in the presence of brilliance here, A SINGLE MAN, ESCAPE TO TOMORROW and ROMEO AND JULIET are but three titles that I can think of that have brought forth sheer musical genius from the composer. PENNY DREADFUL is no exception to this rule, the composer providing the series with numerous themes and a multitude of highly listenable and haunting compositions that not only are entertaining and enjoyable away from the images but enhance, support and underline each and every frightening, grotesque, erotic and alluring moment of the series. It was only a few years ago that many film music collectors seemed to look down their nose at music for television, but in recent times I think that TV soundtracks have come into their own and PENNY DREADFUL is a prime example. The score which is symphonic with choral support and also with maybe a little assistance from the synthetic department is brimming with opulent and darkly luscious musical passages in fact it literally oozes evil and is filled with a dark and resounding vibrancy that is a compelling listen.
The score is performed in the main by the string section, with the composer introducing piano, brass and other sections of the orchestra as the score progresses and builds, the opening track sets the scene wonderfully for what is to follow, DEMIMONDE, which is the opening music for each episode of the series is a short lived but vibrant and jumpy sounding piece, strings leading the way stridently and in forthright fashion but soon giving way to a more melodic violin solo that is pure Eastern European in its style and sound. Korzeniowski I think has got the balance just right when scoring PENNY DREADFUL, his score is chilling and unsettling but at the same time it remains melodious and attractive with its sweeping strings and its fearsome brass flourishes and dark piano and unnerving choral parts it is a triumph of film/television scoring and a compact disc that you should as a discerning film music collector own.
SIMON AND THE OAKS is a stunning and epic tale that spans the years of the Second World War and also beyond into the early part of the 1950,s. The story concentrates on Simon a young boy who is brought up within the circle of a loving and caring family in Gothenburg. But he is troubled and confused as he always feels he is out of place and with a family that are very different from him (he later discovers he is adopted). He decides to study and gain knowledge, which is something that his parents are not keen on because they fear he will become aloof and forget his family. After much persuasion Simon’s Father gives in and sends his son to a grammar school which is attended by upper class pupils. It is here that Simon meets Isak who is the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller, Isak and his family have fled from the persecution of the Nazi’s. Simon befriends the young Jew and is mesmerised by his Fathers collection of books and art and it is then that Simon decides he wants to find out more about his own background. Isak however starts to become interested in working manually and creating things with his hands and begins to assist Simons Father in the building of boats. When Isak has trouble at home he turns to Simon’s family who take him in and as the war escalates and rips Europe apart the two families come closer together integrating and connecting in unusual ways. Set against the backdrop of a brutal war SIMON AND THE OAKS is a gripping and intense tale, with solid and credible performances, the movie explores and lays bare the contrasts of the personal and the political, love and hate, destiny and fate and also attempts to show the watching audience that maybe a broken heart can be repaired and also that it needs to be. The musical score for SIMON AND THE OAKS is the work of composer Annette Focks, who was born in 1964 in Lower Saxony, Germany. She has worked on over 60 film and television scores and been nominated a handful of times and also won awards for her music. The score for Simon and the Oaks is as you can well imagine an emotive one, the composer selecting solo violin as the principal instrument of the score, its haunting and eloquent performances underlining the Jewish themes within the movie and also bringing to the surface a heartfelt and melancholy ambience. The composers moving and mesmerizing thematic properties enhancing and elevating the poignancy, drama and fragility of the storyline, plus also relaying to the listener and watching audience the inner turmoil that Simon is experiencing. The score which is for the majority of its duration fully symphonic is a powerful one and also one that begs to be returned to after one’s initial listen.
The composer employs solo piano on occasion to purvey a rich but at the same time heart breaking and solitary sound as in tracks number 20, KARIN COMES HOME, 21, IZA and track 25 LOVE to single out but three. Woodwind is also utilized to great effect throughout the work enhancing and supporting economically but effectively, with underlying strings augmenting and themselves supporting. I was reminded of the style of composer John Barry on a few occasions whilst listening to the score, delicate woodwind and subtle strings creating lamenting moods and also romantic and haunting moments, which are highly affecting but also understated.Special mention must also be made of the magnificent and totally mesmerizing violin playing of Max Wulfson.
This is a soundtrack that would enrich any film music collection and it is also a score that one will return to on numerous occasions and on each outing you will find something fresh and vibrant. Recommended…
Alhambra records Germany cat number. A 9009.
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