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God's and Generals by Randy Edelman and John Frizzell

Running Time: 61:48

 

 

 Audio Clips
02 Gods and Generals
09 These Brave Irishmen
15 Vmi Will Be Heard from Today

Gods and Generals by Randy Edelman & John Frizzell
Impressions by Matt Peterson

Music composed and produced by John Frizzell and Randy Edelman
Conducted by Nick Ingman
Solos by Mark O'Connor and Paddy Moloney
Released by Sony Classical - February 4th, 2003

This score came out of nowhere.  Being very interested in both history and film, I've been looking forward to director Ronald Maxwell's (Gettysburg) newest Civil War epic. However, upon hearing Frizzell and Edelman were doing the music, I was skeptical. It seemed like an odd choice, considering each composer's respective work. However, upon hearing Sony Classical's release, I can say the skepticism was misplaced. Completely redeeming himself from the pain that was Alien Resurrection, Frizzell (who composed most of the score) produces a remarkable score with the help of Edelman, brimming with nearly everything we come to expect from a period epic: A strong main title, old world instruments (notably Irish, denoting the many Irish immigrants who fought for both sides), and motifs that capture the sound of traditional American folk tunes. There is even a choir mixed in, creating a gorgeously operatic and lyrical set of cues. Some may recognize a slight Hans Zimmer quality to some of the themes, but the majority is quite original. Don't look for action music here--the score is primarily on the soft, thematic side. I have a feeling the majority of the film's battle sequences will go unscored. Some of the best tracks include the choral "Gods and Generals," momentem-laden "The School of the Soldier" and the closest the album comes to action, "VMI Will Be Heard from Today." There are many more. The songs by Bob Dylan and Mary Fahl are somewhat intrusive marketing tools--the score is where the attention should be. Also, the CD comes packed with a limited edition DVD with just under a half hour of material, including a theatrical trailer, bonus footage from the film (featuring music, in 5.1 Dolby Digital!), and two music videos--a fantastic bonus. This is a well crafted tribute to one of America's darkest, yet noblest chapters. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10

Gods and Generals by Randy Edelman and John Frizzell at Amazon.com
 

   

White Oleander by Thomas Newman

Running Time: 34:38

 

 

 Audio Clips
Available at Amazon.com

White Oleander by Thomas Newman
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Music Composed Thomas Newman
Produced by Thomas Newman and Bill Bernstein
Executive Producer: Robert Townson
Released by Varese Sarabande Records - October 29, 2002

Janet Finch's best selling novel was brought to the big screen by director Peter Kosminsky. The film version focuses on three of the nine foster homes that a young girl, whose self-absorbed, single mother, goes to jail, spends a segment of her life - being molded and shaped by each of them, but can any of them conquer the poisonous effect of her own mother's influence?

Thomas Newman gets the call again to score another mainstream female-centric, feature-film. Unfortunately White Oleander does not live up to the memorable Newman style of Little Women, How to Make an American Quilt, or Fried Green Tomatoes. Instead, White Oleander continues the composers "breathy," minimalist style that has dominated his work over the better part of a decade. Lacking the contrasting stylistic vibrancy found in another 2002 Newman project, Road to Perdition and is more akin to the almost non-existent, The Salton Sea. Aside from the opening two tracks the score virually disappears into a dimension of seemingly extraneous synthesizers and electronically processed percussions.

Of course it is unfair to expect Thomas Newman to a Little Women-like score for a film of this nature, but more often than not, Thomas Newman scores seem to move closer to modern musical experiments, which seldom turn translate into interesting listening experiences for general film music lovers.

Rating: 3/10

White Oleander by Thomas Newman Available at Amazon.com
 

   

Ghost Ship by John Frizzell

Running Time: 72:17

 

 

 Audio Clips
n/a

Ghost Ship by John Frizzell
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Composed by John Frizzell
Produced by John Frizzell
Orchestrated by Andrew Kinney and Frank Bennet
Executive Producer: Robert Townson
Released by
Varese Sarabande Records - November 5, 2002

There is a pretty short list of composers who manage to deliver horror film scores that remain listenable outside of the confines of the film itself. One composer who may not get his due for accomplishing this exact feat is John Frizzell. Instead of relying solely upon the stock horror elements of shrieks, claps, blasts, bursts, shrills and shreeks, Frizzell more often than not delivers one or more melodic themes and resonant action music.

Ghost Ship continues John Frizzell's pattern of solid horror film music. From Alien Resurrection to last year's 13 Ghosts (also directed by Steve Beck) to this latest project, Frizzell makes a habit of churning out forceful and expansive music.

Being that the film is from the horror genre, there is of course a number of obligatory dissonant cues , but the score goes beyond those staples. It might comes as a surprise, but this release from Varese Sarabande offers plenty of both types of music as the soundtrack reaches over 73 minutes in length.

With an obvious talent for thematic music, it has been a shame that John Frizzell does not garner more work for film's outside of the horror genre, but with his exemplorary work in God's and Generals hopefully this mistake is all in the past.

Rating: 6/10

Ghost Ship by John Frizzell Available at Varese Sarabande
 

 

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