A new movie which will be released on March 16th 2022 is, NOTRE-DAME ON FIRE, which offers a blow-by-blow recreation of the gripping and devastating events that took place on April 15, 2019, when the famous cathedral suffered the biggest blaze in its history. The film retraces how heroic men and women put their lives at risk to accomplish an awe-inspiring rescue. The movie which contains a totally absorbing story, which focuses upon the courageous firefighters who tackled the destructive inferno. The idea behind the film was to recreate the events of April 15th, and to do this the filmmakers used archive footage taken that was shot by bystanders and professionals on the night of the fire, to which they have added images that no one was able to film as the tragedy unfolded, shot in huge sets which have been built in scale replica of the magnificent Cathedral. The film, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, is intended for large screens around the world equipped with state-of-the-art image and sound technology such as Imax etc. Which is the only way to do this riveting and emotive movie justice. The musical score is by composer Simon Franglen who is a British born composer of film and classical music, and a former record producer and musician and has worked alongside the likes of the late James Horner and Thomas Newman in film scoring.

His music for Notre Dame on Fire is just as spectacular and emotive as the movie itself, lending its considerable dramatic, melodic, and powerful sound to the images on screen.

The score at times is action led, with gripping and foreboding textures, and colours underlining and punctuating the scenes that are unfolding before the watching audience. However, there is also a highly melodious content to the score, the composer creating a deep and fixating spiritual atmosphere utilising symphonic instrumentation alongside choir and synthetic/electronic support to create a haunting and inspiring sound.

Jean-Jacques Annaud.

It is a score that one could refer to as being an edge of the seat listen, it is tense and fraught in places with the composer employing percussive elements and brass flourishes along the way to create a sense of desperation and disbelief. But its lighter or richer, and melodic side brings forth superbly glorious thematic material that is affecting, resounding and totally captivating.

The combination of strings, choir and brass is wonderfully effective, and evokes the style of James Horner and also reminded me of the sound that composer Mark McKenzie creates at times. It has a poignant but at the same time awesomely stirring musical persona. This is a score that you must add to your collection, it is stunning and highly recommended. The soundtrack is coming soon on Milan/Sony.   

Simon Franglen.



I think everyone in the world of film music is still in a state of shock on hearing of the death of composer James Horner. They have also been waiting with baited breath for his score to the western THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN to be released, well the wait is over and the score is here. Yes of course many will be comparing both the movie and the score with the original but this I think is not the right way to go about it and I hope that I can review it without saying where is the original theme, sorry just said it but you know what I mean, I think we have to listen to the new score with open minds and fresh ears although there is a hint of that famous theme in track number four VOLCANO SPRINGS, I say a hint because Horner resists the temptation of going into a full rendition or arrangement of it, he teases us a little with a short burst of strings then dilutes the theme into something that is similar but also at the same time different. I love the way Horner and co-composer Simon Franglen have made use of various percussive elements and also an inventive inclusion of a pan pipe sound which at times is calming but then alters direction become more sinister and aggressive, these sounds are fused with soprano voice giving the work something of a connection with the spaghetti western score, al’ a composers such as Morricone, Nicolai and Baclov, but I have to say because of the pan pipes it is also somewhat reminiscent of Horner’s WILLOW and at times Goldsmith’s UNDER FIRE. The soprano is heard from the offset of proceedings in track number one, ROSE CREEK OPRESSION this opens with Horner’s trademark echoing trumpet flourishes which are embellished by both percussion and strings, with pipes being added as the track progresses, with two soprano voices performing in unison. This deployment of instrumentation is heard more prominently and in a sustained outing in track number five, STREET SLAUGHTER where Horner and Franglen successfully create a powerful and also a melodic piece that evokes both Italian and American westerns scores of days past, mixing a grand sound with a more unconventional approach to scoring a western. Track number two SEVEN ANGELS OF VENGEANCE, is a powerful addictive listen, driving strings are punctuated and supported by brass and percussion, with horns returning and taking on a core theme but soon being overwhelmed by percussion that is interspersed with bells, pan pipe stabs a wailing if but fleeting harmonica and then eventually the strings which give a short but effective rendition of the theme originally introduced by the horns, it is an interesting cue that also includes strident sounding guitar strumming and Hispanic sounding nuances. At times when listening to the score one forgets that this is a western, but there again define what music is western etc., it’s what works for the movie in the end, in my opinion this works well away from the movie.

I found it enjoyable and yes I admit to listening out for similarities between it and Elmer Bernstein’s scores for the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN cycle of movies, but I was not disappointed when it did not explode at every opportunity into arrangements or different takes on those scores and their central and secondary themes. This is an original score no doubt of that as in the way it is orchestrated, it contains some surprises and also a number of moments when one could say Oh yes typical James Horner, but is that a bad thing. For the many devoted fans of the original films score there is a snippet at the end of the compact disc in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and its credited to Mr Bernstein, but this is the only direct reference to Bernstein’s slice of classic sounding Americana, and even this is different it’s a more subdued version or arrangement but one that still hits the spot. One of the highlights for me is track number, twenty-one, FARADAYS RIDE, this is a full working of what can I suppose be called the scores central theme, complete with vocal backing and those proud sounding horns that are carried along by strings and supported by timpani and strumming guitars, its proud, hopeful and anthem like and a compulsive listen, by this I mean as soon as cue finishes you want to go back and listen again. Overall a good score and entertaining listen and another reason to mourn the loss of such a gifted composer. Just go buy it……….