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Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite
by Jeff Rona

Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite

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 The Soundtrack MP3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite (Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona

Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite
Composed by Jeff Rona
Wide Blue Sky (2008)

Rating: 9/10

Buy Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite by Jeff Rona  from Amazon.com



 

“SONGS OF THE SEA is unlike anything I have heard from JEFF RONA before. He has delivered a bold and inspirational orchestral suite that is every bit worthy of connection to this premiere world event.”

Gold Medal Suite!
Review by Christopher Coleman
Composer Jeff Rona

"Well, it's grand, epic, melodic and uplifting...for the most part. Of course an entire concert of that would be akin to 'Chinese water torture.'"

Jeff Rona



Read the full interview with JEFF RONA

The spectacle that was the Beijing Olympics of 2008 will hardly be forgotten by anyone who saw the opening ceremonies or the awe inspiring performances from athletes. While there was ample cable-coverage of the games, one particular segment of this Olympiad that was sorely under-represented was that of the Olympic Regatta held in Qindao. Make no mistake. These sailing events were a big to-do. As with Beijing, Qingdao was in preparation for these events for years. Included in this preparation came a special commission from the IOC (International Olympics Committee) for the composition of a suite of music to represent this Olympic regatta. Veteran film composer JEFF RONA became the choice of special committee for this daunting task.

The idea of "water" and Jeff Rona are certainly no strangers. Back in 1996, Rona composed the score for WHITE SQUALL, which was when my eyes and ears were first opened to his talents. While he has since completed a bevy of projects, another "watershed' project came with last year's release of the award-winning documentary, SHARKWATER. As important as those projects may have been, neither approaches the scope and weight of writing music for the Olympics.

JEFF RONA has long excelled at delivering scores that trend towards ambient-electronica experiences or projects that make use of his expertise with ethnic wind instruments. Admittedly, when I found out that he was on this Olympic project, I wondered how his talents would translate.  In short, SONGS OF THE SEA is unlike anything I have heard from JEFF RONA before. He has delivered a bold and inspirational orchestral suite that is every bit worthy of connection to this premiere world event. The only tragedy is that the events which this music represents were so poorly covered that comparatively few will have little to no knowledge of this project's existence. 

Without foreknowledge of what his music was composed to represent, you might find that there are few moments that immediately bring thoughts of "water" or "sailing" or even "China" to mind. That said, placing many of these tracks over some great sailing video footage or placid seascapes would certainly connect nicely. One of Rona's own victories here is that he has successfully brought the evocative nature of film music to this symphonic suite.  Throughout, you may pick up hints of familiarity of some of Hollywood's finest composers such as: Erich Korngold, Miklos Rosza, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, Michael Kamen or James Newton Howard. This he does without crossing the line of compositional-regurgitation.  SONGS OF THE SEA offers us a new, bold, symphonic voice from JEFF RONA; however, it is more likely that this grand voice has been swimming just below the waterline all along, just waiting for the right moment to surface and breathe.

There is a decidedly western-bent to this suite. Beginning with an epic brass-lead piece which serves as the Olympic Regatta's official theme, we are treated to music that is mindful of some of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's "sea" works as well as Jerry Goldmsith's memorable anthems.  "The Noble" (2) is slower in tempo but no less poignant as Rona evokes an adventurous regality through bright brass and languishing strings. This may be the most "naval" of the entire suite. "Great Journey" (4) and the climactic "Horizon" (9) are two more sweeping pieces that feature distinct thematic material and rousing performances that reach, if not exceed, some of the emotional heights that MICHAEL KAMEN has thrilled audiences with.

SONG OF THE SEA is far from being all high-energy, drama. There are a number of tracks which are introspective, but are no less entertaining. The pastoral track 3, "Song for the Salmon" features a moving reading of poetry by David Whyte. If any case can be made for Rona touching on something of John Williams notoriety, it is here, but not in the manner you may think. With the included monologue, this piece plays much like a cue from Sony Classical's USA-release of ANGELA'S ASHES. While the voiceover work in ANGELA'S ASHES distracted from pure appreciation of John Williams low-key score, David Whyte's poetry plays very well over light strings and lonely brass here. Track 5 "On the Open Sea" is another reflective composition that dances atop great swells of the Pacific Ocean, much like John Barry's music danced over the green hills of South Dakota. Now, at the risk of sounding heavy-handed with the high-praise and comparisons, I'll continue with a few more. In the very next track, "Reflections for Oboe and Strings" the lead oboe and subtle accompanying orchestra flows on an undercurrent of Ennio Morricone's THE MISSION. "Fantasy for Violin and Strings" (8) is a stunning piece that features a wonderful solo performance on violin by Frank Ge-Fang Yang.  This piece is momentarily reminiscent of Miklos Rosza's classic violin themes or some of James Newton Howard's recent efforts. Track 10 "Wisdom of Wind" is a beautiful concluding piece with lyrics by LISA GERRARD and sung by soprano HILA PLITMANN. With all of the talented sopranos in China, it's a little odd that one wasn't employed here.  Still, PLITMANN'S voice still adds it's own color to the piece and the end result remains enthralling.

SONGS FROM THE SEA is truly a satisfying listening experience from start to finish. Rona has captured the essence of Olympic competition without making overt nods to the iconic (and well-worn) territory of Leo Arnaud or John Williams. There is very little this release lacks; however, if I dare to dig for any sort of grievance, it would have to be that there isn't more indigenous instrumentation included.  With some of the most unmistakable musical instruments in the world originating in China, their absence is felt here.  While this suite points to where China is...or is certainly heading, it's a bit shy on recognizing the cultural treasures that fill it's long history.  I do have to note though that it is The Qingdao Symphony and members of the Beijing Philharmonic perform every piece with both precision and emotion and do the work proud.  JEFF RONA's latest effort plays more like an epic journey most often affixed to the medium of film, only this is better than most soundtracks.  Every note composed here had a purpose of its own; independent of the needs and constraints of film.  Every track of SONGS FROM THE SEA has its own personality, it's own unique offering; making this one of the most well-rounded listening experiences I have had in 2008.   It will be a great surprise (and even greater disappointment) if JEFF RONA does not find himself expressing this "new voice" for feature films and beyond in the near future.
 

Rating: 9/10

 

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Calling of the Sea 5:49  ****
2 The Noble 5:50  *****
3 Song for the Salmon (David Whyte) 6:33  ****
4 Great Journey 4:16  *****
5 On the Open Sea 5:30  *****
6 Reflections for Oboe and Strings 5:17  ****
7 Intrepid 6:54  ****
8 Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra (Frank Ge-Fang Yang) 7:04  *****
9 Horizon 6:10  *****
10 Wisdom of Wind (Hila Plitmann) 6:07  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 60:00  

 

 
   

 

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