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October 1999

 

October 19, 1999

City of Joy
by Ennio Morricone 

FIR - 5/10

(Epic Soundtracks)

City of Joy by Ennio Morricone is a score that struggles to match the potency of The Mission.  It bears some strong similarities mostly due to Morricone’s use of the choir and flutes.  At times, like in track 2, The Family of the Poor, this score is truly a pleasure to listen to.  At other times, this isn’t the case such as track 5 entitled Hope where the main theme is played on the sitar and pizzicato strings…or their electronic equivalent.  It is just too synthetic and awkward.  Whenever Morricone stays with the simple woodwinds, strings, and chorus, he hits the bulls-eye of enjoyable music.  This score warrants a first impression rating of 5 simply because half of it is very enjoyable music and the other half is…well, meant to be enjoyed in the context of the film.

 

The Scarlet Letter
by John Morris 

FIR - 4/10

(Super Tracks)

John Morris composer of the scores for The Elephant Man and Blazing Saddles and Dirty Dancing delivers a suitable score for this television adaptation of The Scarlett Letter.  It is indeed suitable but not spectacular.  It is a melancholy work lacking much fire or zeal.  The most dramatic music is found in the opening theme and track 10, The Scarlet Letter, but even these pieces are on the hum-drum side.  The only break is found in track 11, The Marketplace, which is a little celtic diddy.

Judge Dredd
by Alan Silvestri 

FIR - 8/10

(Epic Soundtracks)

Ok.  Never mind all of the edgy metal and alternative cuts, there is enough score on this CD release to make it quite a nice addition to anyone’s soundtrack collection.  There are seven tracks of Alan Silvestri’s brilliant score.  Here one will find foreshadows of Contact and echoes of Predator and The Back to the Future Trilogy.  Silvestri can be an absolute master of the loud as well as of sweeping string melodies.  This score offers some of the best of both.  One doesn’t have to look any further than the first score track, Judge Dredd Main Theme.  This track has it all.  The main theme is bright, bold, and reaches the borderline of cornyness, but just stays this side of that mistake.  The Sinfonia of London does a stellar job of communicating Silvestri’s masterful composition and helps to make this easily one of Silvestri’s best scores.

Up Close and Personal
by Thomas Newman 

FIR -7/10

(Hollywood Records) 

Thomas Newman comes with an unexpected blend of unassuming orchestrations and Latin flavors in his score for Up Close and Personal.  At times Newman relies upon some intriguing piano leads (track 2, A Week Eight Days ; track 6, Up Close) and at others mystical synths and woodwinds almost in the line of Jeff Rona’s White Squall (track 3, Uprising).  Newman truly shows of his talents in Up Close and So Much Cherry Piecrust, where he employs the piano and strings beautifully.  Newman uses his big bag of musical tricks to delight the ears of the listener.  Much of this score is understated, but still very pleasurable especially if one is in a somber, reflective mood. 

October 2,  1999

Ancient and Modern
by Anne Dudley 

FIR - 8/10

(Angel Records) 

Anne Dudley's somewhat eclectic collage of ancient choruses, hymns, and and carols is a brilliant, contemporary tribute to each work...without defiling them.  it is nearly impossible to believe that this female composer was once with the eighties group (not too mention their reunion of '99), The Art of Noise!  This release is anything but noise.  While it is not a film score, it has come from the talented mind and hands of one of the UK's and US's most popular film score composers.  This CD is filled with energy and life and can be very soothing to listen to, say on a Sunday afternoon.  Many of the pieces take on a similar feel to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings: Veni Sancte Spiritus, Coventry Carol.  There is a meditativeness to almost all of the tracks.  The single exception being The Holly and the Ivy.  The tracks range from light intensity to very deep.  Anne Dudley certain shows off her talents as a conductor and arranger and makes a wonderful case for the pure talent of film composers against the accusations of the classical-only crowd.

 

Warriors of Virtue 
By Don Davis 

FIR - 8/10

(Prometheus) 

This may be Don Davis' best!  With adventurous, swashbuckling themes and huge doses of bombast, this score shares many qualities with some of the most recognizable scores from that category: Cutthroat Island, The Pagemaster among others.    In fact, it would not hard to imagine such a score coming from James Horner, himself.  it is simply mahvelous.  Further,  Davis' use of chorus is some what similar to Danny Elfman's earlier work and is quite appealing.  Right from the start Don Davis grabs a hold of the listener and doesn't let go until completely satisfying the craving for high spirited film music.  Twenty-four tracks insures that!  Thank you Prometheus.  Don Davis had ample time to work on his music for this film and it shows.   Not to be overlooked is the "heart and innocence" of the films hero.  These qualities can be heard in several tracks such as The Lifespring Rhapsody, Ryan and the Tunnel of Temptation and Ryan's Strengths.  The Denver Symphony Orchestra and Chorus do a fabulous job.  They certainly should be used more often. This score is musical heroism at it best.

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