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Flashnotes - January 2002


Last Flashed:
October 19, 2003

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Gosford Park by Patrick Doyle

Gosford Park by Patrick Doyle - January 20, 2002

Director Robert Altman explores the "upstairs-downstairs" relationship between English masters and their servants in his somewhat dark-comedy Gosford Park.  The music for the film, as presented on Decca's soundtrack release, is comprised of 6 compositions by silent-screen star, Ivor Novello, who was an accomplished composer and even a playwright long before his film notoriety.  Of the six Novello tracks, five feature the co-written lyrics, which are adequately performed by Jeremy Northam, who plays Novello in the film.  Patrick Doyle's contributions range from chamber music to pieces for small, jazz ensemble, to a couple of vocal tracks (which interestingly tie the jazz and orchestral elements together).  Doyle helps to delineate the vast differences of the upstairs-characters, through use of the clarinet, and the downstairs, utilizing the accordion.  The most notable portion of Doyle's work here is his somber theme first heard in track 5, The Shirt, and later in Life Goes On (14).  For Gosford Park, it is these brief, darker moments that convey the deep emotion that is so often associated with and expected from Patrick Doyle.  Despite all the accolades the film has received, Gosford Park, the soundtrack, offers only a mediocre listening experience.

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Brotherhood of the Wolf by Joseph LoDuca

Brotherhood of the Wolf by Joseph LoDuca - January 18, 2002

Composer Joseph LoDuca, best known for his work for the television shows Xena:  Warrior Princess and Hercules, scores this French film based on the legend of Gèvaudan. LoDuca delivers a score that is nearly as eclectic as the film itself.  Mirroring the jumbled collection of film genres that make up Brotherhood of the Wolf, the score combines gritty percussions,  folksy strings, organic woodwinds, and  unfortunately with budget-sounding synthesizers.  This largely atonal work darkly moves along with occasional Navajo-like vocals.  The overall mood os the score is dark but the tone brightens just slightly towards the conclusion of the soundtrack.  Put simply, Brotherhood of the Wolf takes on the schizophrenic mindset of the film.  From a technical perspective, it could be called one of LoDuca's better efforts, but it falls short of his surprisingly thematic material contained on Xena:  Warrior Princess (Vol. 6).

19 Cleansing

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American Journey by John Williams

American Journey by John Williams - January 14, 2002

Even though American Journey is not film music, per se, it has still managed to become one of soundtrack collectors' most anticipated releases of early 2002.  The 2002 Winter Olympics afford John Williams yet another chance to "wow" international audiences with one of his mythic and inspiring Olympic compositions as he did back in 1984 and 1996.  Like Summon the Heroes in 1996, John Williams' Call of the Champions is 2002's main theme.  It is considerably different from Williams' other Olympic efforts, and sadly, falls way short of his thrilling composition, Summon the Heroes.  The remaining selections; however, especially those from the American Journey event in Washington D.C., make this CD truly worth owning.  Not surprisingly many of the selections here are similar to Born on the 4th of July, The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan and other brass-laden scores from Williams' big book of soundtrack triumphs.  Make no mistake about it.  American Journey is packed with melodic and patriotic inspiration and given the current world climate, a timely release that will do the ears of the soul some good.  Click here to get more info. Read the full review

01 Call of the Champions 03 The Country at War
05 Arts and Sports | 10 The Mission Theme

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Mists of Avalon by Lee Holdridge

Mists of Avalon by Lee Holdridge - January 14, 2002

Mists of Avalon, the highly marketed cable-television film, brought composer Lee Holdridge to the forefront of film-musicdom in 2001.  Mists of Avalon, a pagan/female-centric telling of the Arthur legends, has turned out to be one of, if not the, best selling soundtracks to date from the composer.  No doubt its new-age-like feel, complete with suitable-celtic influence, has greatly contributed to the album's success.  Also contributing to the album's success was the inclusion of Loreena McKennit's "the Mystic's Dream." The film itself, showcases Holdridge's work well and, obviously, struck a chord with audiences.  Aside from the ethereal qualities, Holdridge conservatively gives the score a full bombastic whollop; however, such forceful elements generally remain secondary to the melodic and sensitive bits.  Overall, this may represent Lee Holdridge's best work to date and a soundtrack one should not pass up.

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Maurice Jarre:  The Emotion and the Strength

Maurice Jarre:  The Emotion and the Strength (Milan) - January 13, 2002

Milan Records releases a thorough 2-disc compilation of one of Hollywood's most prolific and imaginative composers:  Maurice Jarre - The Emotion and the Strength.  Both CDs explore the composers most beloved scores (Doctor Shivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Witness, A Passage to India), but also gives due spotlight to many of his more obscure, but no less engaging projects, such as: The Tin Drum, Gorillas in the Midst, and even one of his most recent work for the television-film, Uprising.  Many of the cues were recorded live by the BBC Concert Orchestra, on October 16, 1996 at the Royal Festival Hall.  The inclusion of concert tracks with studio performances does make for a semi-awkward experience, at times, as the applause found in these tracks are conspicuous.  Be this as it may, for those who have acquired a taste for Maurice Jarre's unique style, Milan's release may prove a nice companion to Silva Records' Jarre compilation from a couple of years ago.

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Big Jake by Elmer Bernstein

Big Jake by Elmer Bernstein - January 13, 2002

Elmer Berstein's very name evokes images of the Old West.  Bernstein spearheaded the select group of composers who created the easily recognizable musical character of the Western.  For the first time, Bernstein's Big Jake has been made available for collectors by Prometheus Records as a limited edition CD.  Those who have come to love Bernstein's patented action and drama Western style will find Big Jake a delight.  While it does feature almost direct quotes from some of his more recognizable and popular Western scores, Bernstein is able to inject a degree of freshness with, among other things,  light-hearted, ragtime-esque elements.  Also, concluding the disc is over 8 minutes of source music.  All in all one gets treated to over an hour of more Bernstein-western-magic.

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The Black Stallion by Carmine Coppola & The Black Stallion Returns by Georges Delerue

The Black Stallion (Carmine Coppola) & The Black Stallion Returns (Georges Delerue) - January 13, 2002

One of the most beautifully shot films from the 1970's was The Black Stallion.  Coupled with it's award winning cinematography was Carmine Coppola's colorful score, which received a Golden Globe nomination for best original score.  After a falling out with the original composer, Coppola, along with a handful of other composers (including Shirley Walker) were brought in to provide the musical texture of the film.   The end result is a truly pleasurable and diverse score ranging from the epic to the mysteriously simple.  Also included is Georges Delerue's score for The Black Stallion Returns - a television-run, sequel film.  Somewhat victimized by Delerue's own consistent brilliance, The Black Stallion Returns, while skillfully powerful and majestic as so many of his works are, lacks the range of Coppola (and company's) score for the original film.  Whichever score one prefers, neither could be considered a disappointment and this Prometheus release is one of their best yet! 

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