I remember seeing Somewhere in Time when it was first released in 1980 and its subsequent airings on TV soon after its theatrical release. Which I could never understand because I always thought it was a good movie and did not deserve to be relegated to the small screen so soon. In fact on one occasion the film was on TV and something went wrong with the broadcast resulting in no vision just sound, but at least we could still hear the glorious music. The film is an enchanting and highly emotive romance which is built around a story of time travel. It was not just the outstanding and imaginative story that straight away intrigued me but also the locations, acting, and photography helmed by filmmaker Jeannot Szwarc.
The musical score by John Barry captured the essence of the movie underlining its scenarios, and totally mesmerising the watching audience adding a greater sense of emotion and romance to the relationship between the two central characters played by Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. The simple romanticism that is conveyed within the composer’s eloquent music is probably why it was so overwhelmingly appealing and successful. Barry’s, poignant and alluring themes punctuating and perfectly embellishing the movie. Adding depth, colours and textures to the already affecting tale. The film also utilised Rachmaninov’s variation of a theme of Paganini which is a piece of music that became an integral part of the storyline, and a connection between the central characters. It is probably true to say that it is this that Barry took his cue from to create such a romantic and lush sounding work for the movie.
But then the composer himself fashioned the haunting and beautiful Somewhere in Time theme which acted as both a counterpoint and compliment to the Rachmaninov piece. It is a score that is literally brimming with attractive and heartrending themes. The score stands as one of the composers best from this period. With cues such as Is He the One, The Old Woman, A Day Together, Rowing, The Grand Hotel etc all possessing that unmistakable John Barry sound and having to them a style that is beyond heartbreakingly effective.
It was originally released on an MCA LP record, but I do recall several collectors not being that happy with the sound quality, a CD appeared wen many of the labels were scrambling to get out as many of their recordings onto the little shiny discs, but the sound quality still was not that good. A re-recording of the score was released by Varese Sarabande, which was a faithful rendition of the John Barry score. Performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the baton of the composer John Debney, it contained nineteen cues from the soundtrack. The latest edition of the score which is released on La La Land records has thirty-three tracks, but not all are score cues, some are source music and others are alternate versions of compositions used in the film including the music box version of the Rachmaninov piece and a variation on the scores central theme arranged by Barry sounding as if it was destined for one of his many compilations.
The sound quality is I think exceptionally good, it has a brighter and sharper sound compared with the MCA original releases of the score. It is a soundtrack that for me never becomes tiring. I always manage to be amazed by the artistry of John Barry as a whole and with Somewhere in Time his gift for melody and his versatility shines even more brightly with each listen, the composer purveying fragility, and a delicate and lilting mood that lightly touches and graces the images on screen the gossamer like tone poems becoming wisps and airs that ingratiate and astound, attaching themselves to the characters, the locations and the story. Recommended.