I haven’t seen the new Tom Cruise sci-fi blockbuster, Oblivion, yet, but I have heard and love its soaring theme by M83. The song features vocals by Norwegian singer, Susanne Sundfør. You can stream the song below…
The soundtrack to the new Anthony Hopkins biopic, Hitchcock, is pretty much what you would expect from composer Danny Elfman. His Hitchcock film score is effectively evocative of Bernard Herrmann’s original Psycho score, but has enough of Elfman’s signature whimsy to keep it fresh. It’s not my favorite of Elfman’s work – that remains Edward Scissorhands – but I like it a lot. It’s both suspenseful and playful, which is both expected and welcomed. My favorite track is the finale “Funeral March for a Marionette.” The original by French composer Charles Gounod was used as the theme to The Alfred Hitchcock Show. Elfman puts a fun spin on it, which is true of the entire soundtrack.
Guest Post By: Brendan
Thomas Newman is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Sam Mendes – I noticed his American Beauty score featured heavily in the recent documentary Inventing David Geffen. My favorite of their collaborations is Road to Perdition, a gorgeous and delicate piano-driven suite. Newman’s composition for Mendes’ latest film, Skyfall, is a different beast – a heavily synthesized score which features few delicate moments.
The tragic character of “Severine” provides a brief respite in a score which otherwise pummells you into submission. It is a glorious, 78-second string arrangement, conjuring memories of my favorite Bond music – John Barry’s instrumental “We Have All The Time In The World.”
Skyfall is otherwise a surprisingly forgettable score, though I did enjoy the “Shanghai Drive” theme, its reprisal in the album’s concluding track, “Adrenaline,” and the percussive energy of “Silhouette.” Monty Norman’s original theme is incorporated particularly well in “Breadcrumbs.”
Adele’s “Skyfall” was oddly not included in the US release of the film’s soundtrack.
Guest Post By: Brendan
The 1997 soundtrack to James Cameron’s Titanic became the highest-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack ever. A remastered “Anniversary Edition” of the soundtrack has been released to coincide with this week’s Titanic 3D movie release. Two versions of the Titanic: Anniversary Edition are now available: the 2-disc package contains James Horner’s original score (including Celine Dion’s smash “My Heart Will Go On”) accompanied by a previously unreleased disc of music recorded for Titanic by chamber music ensemble I Salonisti, while the 4-disc Collector’s Edition also includes a remastered Back to Titanic (the second volume of Horner’s orchestral score) and a disc of public domain songs from the Titanic period.
In the 1990′s, I was an avid collector of Film music, and a cornerstone of my collection was composer James Horner. Horner’s work was amazing and his prolific mid-90s film score catalogue included Legends Of The Fall, Apollo 13, Braveheart, the underrated and sublime To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday and, of course, Titanic.
The music of Titanic remains impressive. Horner made an inspired choice to emulate the music of Enya by using the angelic vocals of Norwegian singer Sissel, resulting in a heartbreaking nostalgic sound. Some of the more remarkable tracks include “Never an Absolution” and “Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave.”
The previously unreleased I Salonisti album is a pleasant set predominantly comprised of violin waltzes arranged and produced by John Altman. I first became aware of Altman from his gorgeous suite of music on the Beautiful Thing soundtrack, which features several Mamas & Papas hits along with solo work by Mama Cass. My favorite track on the I Salonisti album is “Blue Danube.” Unfortunately, the rest of the disc doesn’t rise above pleasant background music for me.
The review copy from Sony was the 2-disc edition, but I’ve heard Back to Titanic before. I actually enjoyed Back to Titanic more than its predecessor, perhaps due to the increased Irish influence. “An Irish Party in Third Class” and “Jack Dawson’s Luck” both include sets of traditional Irish music, while Maire Brennan’s voice and Eileen Ivers’ fiddle respectively appear on “Come Josephine In My Flying Machine” and “Nearer My God to Thee.” The beautiful solo piano track, “The Portrait,” is also featured.
I have not yet heard Popular Music From the Titanic Era from the 4-disc edition, but any album that promotes the music of John McCormack is good in my book.
James Horner was interviewed about his Titanic work in a recent Classic FM podcast.
I have not seen the new film, Water for Elephants, which is based on Sara Gruen’s novel. However, I have greatly enjoyed listening to the movie’s soundtrack. The original score by composer James Newton Howard is a lovely collection of instrumentals both serene and dramatic. The rest of the album features Depression-era jazz and blues, the centerpiece of which is Bessie Smith’s guttural rendering of “I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl.”
Occasional Muruch writer Brendan was pulled out of the shadows again by the death of composer John Barry. I (Vic) would count Barry’s beautiful theme from Somewhere In Time as one of my all-time favorite instrumentals. Brendan’s thoughts on Barry’s work follow…
One of my favorite composers of film music died this week. Career retrospectives are easy to find, so I’ve decided to post a chronology of my favorite John Barry music.
The James Bond theme is perhaps one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever composed and I heard it many times in reruns of Bond movies on Irish television growing up. I also remember a Guinness TV commercial from the mid-nineties, which used “All the Time in the World” to great effect.
The first time I really noticed Barry’s music, perhaps sadly, was in The Specialist. His score for the film was sublime, and the track “Did You Call Me?” made it onto my 1999 mixtape, pretentiously titled Life: A Soundtrack.
Barry’s jazz-infused score for Playing By Heart: enhanced the emotional resonance of that underrated movie – the track “Remembering Chet” being a standout.
Then, at the dawning of the new millennium, I discovered Somewhere In Time. It was that rare trifecta in which book, movie adaptation and soundtrack all excel expectation. Barry’s score washed over me and has become one of my favorite albums. On a related note, the Jim Bajor CD of the same name, featuring a piano version of the movie theme, is also highly recommended.
In recent years, I’ve rediscovered some of Barry’s other work – his groundbreaking Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, his wonderful score for Dances With Wolves, and just this weekend, we watched Born Free for the first time.
His last score was for the 2001 film, Enigma.
John Barry died on January 30th, 2011 at aged 77.
Muruch husband and wife duo Brendan and Vic were among those enamoured with the new Leonard DiCaprio film Inception. Director Christoper Nolan’s trippy intellectual dreamscape successfully combines the sci-fi plots and astounding effects of movies like The Matrix with a noirish mystery and settings seemingly ripped from the work of M.C. Escher. Being the movie soundtrack and Hans Zimmer expert of the house, Brendan took on the review of Zimmer’s score for the Inception soundtrack. You can read his thoughts on the album below…
I’ve enjoyed the music of Hans Zimmer since 1993’s True Romance, one of my earliest soundtrack purchases. On cassette! Remember cassettes? My admiration for that particular score was dampened when I heard the remarkably similar music from an earlier film, Badlands. But Zimmer has done some wonderful work in the past two decades, including Gladiator, The Lion King, The Rock, and The Dark Knight. One of my favorite compliations in recent years has been The Wings of a Film – a concert performance from 2000 featuring Zimmer’s music as performed by the VRO Flemish Radio Orchestra. Highlights from that album include excerpts from The Thin Red Line and Gladiator, the latter featuring Lisa Gerard’s haunting vocals.
On to Zimmer’s latest release, Inception. I listened to it walking through the streets of my town as the sky darkened and the wind grew and thunder crashed. The Inception score was a perfect soundscape – when I heard a snatch of a particular song central to the movie, I felt a strong urge to wake up.
Inception is moody and brooding, somewhat similar to Zimmer’s work on other recent Christopher Nolan collaborations, but intensified by the guitar playing of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.
The final track, “Time,” is representative of this score – an emotional triumph that builds and builds until you feel the love and loss of the character it represents, then fades with a bittersweet solo piano.
Inception is a heady mix of electronics, orchestra and guitar, and surely will be a forerunner for best score when Oscar season arrives.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can listen to an interview with Hans Zimmer at WV Public Radio and hear samples from the album at the links below…
The 5 Browns have an unfortunate band name and their new album In Hollywood has a very cheesy cover photo, but the music turned out to be terrific. The 5 Browns are a piano virtuoso quintet comprised of classically trained siblings from Utah. With In Hollywood, the family band transforms movie music into classical piano instrumentals with elements of jazz and pop.
From the amusingly buoyant yet still somewhat thunderous piano rendition of Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars through a classical medley of Disney songs to the dramatic Hitchcock medley finale, most of the scores covered are from well known classic films. But also included are recent scores from Atonement, The Hours, and Catch Me If You Can.
My personal favorite is, of course, the Wizard of Oz medley.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.