THE EXCEPTION, is a riveting World War II thriller that is filled with espionage and romance in equal measure, the story focuses upon a German Soldier Stefan Brandt portrayed by Jai Courtney as he embarks on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II played wonderfully by the talented actor Christopher Plummer. The Kaiser has taken up residence in a secluded mansion in The Netherlands, and as Hitler’s Nazis are taking over Holland, the country’s authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be watching the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds that he is slowly but surely being drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke (Lily James), one of the Kaiser’s maids whom Brandt soon discovers is secretly Jewish. When Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan), Head of the SS, decides to come for an unexpected visit with a large platoon of Nazis in tow, the stage is set for a breath-taking showdown, as secrets are revealed, allegiances are tested, and Brandt is forced to make the ultimate choice between honouring his country and following his heart. It is a gripping and absorbing movie and one that will keep audiences interested and entertained throughout, the musical score is by composer Ilan Eshkeri, who is in my opinion one of the leading lights in film music composition, his score for STARDUST still amazes and enthrals all who listen to it for the first time and holds the attention of collectors who have had it within their collection since its release.

Eshkeri’s score for THE EXCEPTION contains some of the most beautiful and attractive themes that I have heard in a while, many of which are performed by piano, the instrument lending much to the poignancy and emotiveness of the music. The delicate and fragile sounding themes which are quite simple in their make-up seem to be even more haunting when both piano and cello combine to create a touching yet solemn style and sound that certainly hits the emotional spot wonderfully. The score also contains a harder and more martial sound in places which is in-keeping with the films storyline, it also has a mysterious and somewhat exhilarating air to it, with the composer developing an atmosphere that is uneasy and urgent via strings and underlining timpani, the percussive elements acting as punctuation to the string sections and being further enhanced by the utilization of piano, which although fleeting is effective and adds a sense of intrigue to the proceedings. Overall, I would say that this is a somewhat low-key score, with the composer employing just strings. piano and the timpani sections of the orchestra, the lilting and haunting themes are beautifully written and contain a richness and warmth but at the same time seem to ooze a melancholy and fragility which becomes attractive to the listener almost instantly. I am confident that this will become a firm favourite of collectors old and new. Please check it out. Recommended.





THEIR FINEST is a film about people making a movie, well a propaganda film about Dunkirk, it is typically a little British stiff upper lip and has to it a poignancy and a slightly sweet aura and is certainly amusing throughout. Its clever storyline oozes an atmosphere that is at times inspiring, highly patriotic and romantic. The focus of the storyline is upon a couple of young people who are working on the film and via their working relationship become involved romantically. It also gives the watching audience a very rare insight into a part of the war effort between 1939 and 1945 that is rarely given the spotlight, which is that of the ministry of information. The film also has an emotive side that shows us the efforts of an ageing film star Ambrose Hilliard played wonderfully by the excellent Bill Nighy, who is coming to terms with the fact that he is no longer leading actor material and must settle for lesser roles. In my opinion the movie seemed a little too condensed and maybe would have come over better as a four or five-part series for television, nevertheless it is entertaining and enjoyable. The music is by British born composer Rachel Portman, who has over the past few years written some of cinemas most beautiful musical scores. THEIR FINEST is in my humble opinion one of the composers most touching and emotive works and one that mirrors some of her most popular scores such as THE CIDER HOUSE RULES ,the score opens with a slightly upbeat and invigorating piece entitled CATRIN GOES TO MINISTRY, strings open and lead throughout with the composer adding to the mix a flute solo which introduces the fabric of the theme whilst being bolstered and supported by the string section, although short lived this cue establishes itself fairly swiftly and also is an introduction for much of what follows, track number two, I,D MISS YOU is a slower more subdued piece for solo piano, it is a delicate and fragile sounding piece which purveys an atmosphere that is brimming with emotion, melancholy and poignancy. These two opening themes are present throughout the entire work, with the composer presenting them in various arrangements and guises, keeping them fresh and vibrant on each outing. There are also some nice patriotic set pieces within the score and these for me recalled the style of Walton on occasion, especially in NANCY STARLING PARTS 1 AND 2. Overall this is thus far this year one of the best film scores I have heard, I recommend that you check it out.



2016, thus far has seen something of what can be likened to a revival or re-emergence of the western in cinemas, THE HATEFUL 8, THE REVENANT and now JANE GOT A GUN, the latter contains a musical score by composers Lisa Gerrard and Marcello de Francisci. I think I am right when I say that this is a revenge western, we saw a number of these during the 1970,s in vehicles such as HANNIE CAULDER and A MAN CALLED NOON to name but two. JANE GOT A GUN stars Natalie Portman in the title role and has Ewan McGregor as a convincing villain. The score is something of a departure from what we as collectors of film music look upon as a typical western score, by this I mean there are no great expansive cues depicting or supporting the wide open spaces of the old west, instead what we are presented with is a rather low key work down to earth sound, but it is a score which certainly gets your attention simply because it is out of the accepted or expected area of sounds that many associate with the western genre. The soundtrack contains a number of musical passages that are performed by solo guitar which is enhanced by solo violin or fiddle, plus we have the always welcomed distinctive vocal talents of Lisa Gerrard which adds to the work a certain earthiness in a very similar way in which Gianna Spagnola did for Morricone’s NAVAJO JOE, Gerrard’s flawless vocalising brings to soundtrack a sound that is haunting and at times dark and unsettling. If you are hoping that the score for JANE GOT A GUN will evoke past western soundtracks such as THE BIG COUNTRY or HOW THE WEST WAS WON then please think again, the film does not call for music of this type or music that was once more or less expected in westerns, this I think is an intelligent and sophisticated approach to the western medium and in effect the composers have created a whole new original and diverse slant to scoring westerns with their music. The work is also quite a percussive one and contains a number of cues that are filled with pulsating sounds that at times are thundering and fast paced these are along the way punctuated by bold, dark and strident string stabs that add a sense of urgency to the proceedings, there is also a hint of melancholy at certain points within the score which every so often give the work an at times unexpected romantic and emotive side, thus creating another level or dimension to the music.


The score is performed mostly on conventional instrumentation, but does however have a certain amount of synthetic support, however saying this the two compliment and embellish each other seamlessly. The composers have successfully in my opinion managed to re-invent the sound of the western with this soundtrack using instruments which ordinarily would not be utilised for the genre and with the stunning use of vocals courtesy of Gerrard which are present but never overpowering. If I was asked to describe this score by making comparisons to other soundtracks, I would find it difficult because this is an original through and through. Understated but highly effective both on and off screen.




MOMENTUM has been a score I have been waiting to be released for a number of months now, I was privileged enough to be invited to the sessions at the famous Abbey road studios in London back in the January of 2015. Right from the start I realised that this was a special score, filled with great melodies and also one that had a driving and somewhat relentless persona and also one that contained an original and individual sound and style. Composer Laurent Eyquem has created a musical tour de force for this violent and hard hitting thriller which is fast paced and unyielding in the action department and I know will have the watching audience on the edge of their seats in the cinema. I think the composer first came to my notice when I heard his score for COPPERHEAD, after hearing this haunting soundtrack I sought out more of his works and was never disappointed when listening to each new discovery from this obviously talented and highly gifted music- smith. Watching the sections of movie that were being scored at Abbey road was in a word mesmerizing, the composer is like many film composers a perfectionist and each and every section of the film he worked on was scored with not only dramatic and at times romantic sounding music but music that suited and fitted the movie like the proverbial glove. At last the score gets a release on the Varese Sarabande label and we are treated to Eyquem’s high octane themes which are a mix of symphonic and electronic, with both of these elements complimenting each other and gliding seamlessly along together, segueing into each other or at times one acting as a support to the other. The composers music underlines the intense action of the movie but also brings to it a richness of thematic material and contains one of the most infectious themes that I have heard in many a year. This central theme first manifests itself in track number 5 on the compact disc RUN AWAY, this is a rather subdued snippet of the core thematic substance for the score but gives us a hint of the marvelous material that is to follow. There is a scene in the movie which is a particularly graphic torture sequence and one which we viewed a few times at the sessions, the composer scored this sequence with somewhat light and delicate sounding music compared to remainder of the score, it was in some ways almost romantic but saying this the music worked so well within the scene.


The composer utilising a hint of a female vocal that is underscored by layered strings that introduce a solo performance from cello with this itself giving way to lilting and emotive piano solo that adds a subdued touch of melancholy to the proceedings, he underlines this with a sorrowful sounding cello that brings forth a feeling and atmosphere that can only be described as heartfelt pity for what you are witnessing on screen, more forthright strings are then introduced into the piece giving it an even more romantic and lush sound. THE TORTURE (track number 19) is one of the longest cues on the album, and within it we hear fragments of the central theme that rise and then fall away before actually establishing themselves fully. It is a poignant and touching sound that the composer creates and one which works so well for the sequence, the actual scene being horrific, shocking and graphic, thus the music being scored in an opposite style or fashion enhances and elevates the scene giving it a greater impact for audiences. When at a session the scenes from the film obviously do not run in the order that they will eventually appear, the composer working on certain scenes depending on what musicians are present etc on the day. I was lucky enough to be present when the string section was playing their parts and also in the afternoon the brass parts were performed. Listening to the compact disc I was instantly transported back to Abbey road on that rainy day in January, watching and listening to the music being scored to the movie, it’s a day I will not forget. The soundtrack album commences with THE OPENING, which is a percussion led composition and one which certainly succeeds in getting the adrenaline running, fast paced and relentless it makes a powerful opening statement in a very short period of time. Track number two, THE BANK is again a fairly powerful piece and at first slowly builds into a percussion and string combination that is ruthless and exciting, these elements fade away and give way to a more subdued mood but this too alters and reverts back to a more action orientated cue, with brass, strings, percussion and electronics combining to create a tense and vigorously alluring composition which when combined with the images succeeds in building the correct ambience for the sequence.


Track number six, GET RID OF THE EVIDENCE, I particularly remember because the composer asked the brass section to be more aggressive in their playing, the brass being played in unison with electronic stabs underlined by percussion and laced with strings, the brass and synthetic stabs acting as punctuation to a particular scene within the movie, again the music and the images fused as one, the music in my opinion becoming an important part of the scene and the action or an extension of the scene as it were. This is a soundtrack that I would say any self respecting collector of film music should have, it is one of those scores that work wonderfully within the film it was composed to enhance, but also has a life of its own away from the images on screen, I personally feel it is a return to the old style of scoring as it has real themes and motifs that are developed upon as the work progresses giving the work consistency, MOMENTUM is pulsating, brooding, exhilarating and above all entertaining. Available from Varese Sarabande one to add to your collection NOW………



When you think about it composer Jerome Moross was something of an odd man out in the scheme of things and amongst the numerous film music composers that worked at around the same period as he did. I often think of him as the forgotten name of Hollywood film music simply because he composed some of the most robust and familiar film scores that have endured the test of time, but it seems is always omitted from discussions about movie music maestros or at least brought up within the conversation as something of an after thought. This is I think unfair as Moross was a talented composer, arranger and conductor. He was overshadowed by many of the composers of the golden age who had already established themselves as giants of movie scores, composers such as Alfred Newman for example, Steiner and Korngold etc. Moross also seemed to be overlooked because of up and coming talents at the time such as John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith et al. We all of course remember Moross,s rousing soundtrack for the sprawling western epic THE BIG COUNTRY and his beautiful scores for THE PROUD REBEL, THE CARDINAL and RACHEL RACHEL to name but a few, but THE WAR LORD is a score and indeed a movie that just seems to slip under the radar. I first purchased the soundtrack on the long playing record on the Brunswick label many years ago and later added the compact disc on Varese and later the Tsunami edition to my collection. THE WAR LORD for me is primarily a score that contains a number of action cues, but it is also a romantically laced work that contains emotive and highly haunting compositions, the composer providing the Franklin J Schaffner picture with some of the most enriching and well written pieces of film music in many a year. I realise that the compact disc on Varese ha been around a while now, but how many purchased it I wonder? Released in November 1965 THE WAR LORD was based on a play entitled THE LOVERS and tells the story of Chrysagon a conquering Norman War Lord(Charlton Heston) who is sent to defend a coastal village that has been raided many times, whilst there he falls in love with one of the village girls Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth), but she is promised in marriage to Marc one of the men of the village, the Norman knight is bitterly disappointed but by chance becomes aware of a tradition that would allow him to take her on the eve of her wedding. He does just that and when she does not return to the village the following morning the villagers become restless and accuse him of kidnapping her. Jerome Moross composed a wonderfully lyrical score for the movie and produced themes that accompanied not only set action scenarios but he underlined the deep love that the Norman Lord feels for the girl and captures perfectly in his music the frustration that is felt and experienced by all within the story.


Moross was originally given more than two months to write the score but this period was shortened to five weeks and Moross struggled with the score which resulted in veteran composer Hans J Salter being brought in to write approximately fifteen minutes of music, most notably THE WAR LORD IN BATTLE which is one of the scores most rousing cues. The score is simply drenched in rich thematic material whether it be the work of Moross or Salter the score is simply beautiful, mesmerizing in certain areas, stirring in others, but essentially this is quality film music, poetically emotive, lavishly romantic and fearsomely vibrant. It is a score that enhances and augments without being intrusive, but at the same time one is aware of its presence because of its shining beauty and brilliance, with its highly emotional musical passages and also its subdued but effective tone poems and its joyful and haunting musical persona. Tracks such as THE DRUID WEDDING, LOVE THEME, THE ASCENT TO THE TOWER AND FRUSTRATED LOVE and the delightful NOCTURNAL PROCESSION are all cues that will have you reaching for the repeat button. If you have per chance missed this one, I implore you to find it and love it as I do.