All posts under Reviews

CD Review: Heroines In Music

The French Lieutenant's Woman

As the music industry continues to change, more and more film composers are taking the releases of their music into their own hands. Mark Isham recently created Mark Isham Music and Klaus Badelt is releasing CD-R’s and digital downloads through his site. But Carl Davis was one of the first, aggressively releasing previously unreleased scores on his Carl Davis Collection beginning last year. His latest disc, HEROINES IN MUSIC, brings together four lovely scores from literary adaptations in film and television. THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1981) gave Meryl Streep her first…

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CD Review: David Raksin Conducts His Great Film Scores


When lists are made of the pantheon of Golden Age composers, you’ll always find the usual suspects–Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Miklós Rózsa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, etc. Seldom is David Raksin among them. No doubt his cooperation with the House on Un-American Activities Committee kept him from securing some major film projects that would have bolstered his reputation. But Raksin’s mentorship with the legendary composer Arnold Schoenberg gives his music an often risky harmonic richness that still feels fresh today. Thankfully, Sony released one of the classic Raksin recordings in…

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CD Review: Citizen Kane – The Classic Film Scores of Bernard Herrmann


The concluding batch of Sony reissues from Charles Gerhardt’s Classic Film Scores series has been released and the first CD is a gem. CITIZEN KANE – THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF BERNARD HERRMANN brings together selections from five of his most famous–and inventive–scores, without a single note of Hitchcock among them. The album opens with the rousing “The Death Hunt” from ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952). The film stars Robert Ryan as a bitter, burned out cop who falls in love with the blind sister (Ida Lupino) of the killer he is…

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CD Review: Everybody Wants To Be a Cat, Disney Jazz Vol. 1


The beloved songs from Disney films have inspired jazz musicians for years, with Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Miles David and John Coltrane all lending their unique talents to interpreting the classic tunes. A new label from the studio, Disney Pearl, has released the first volume in a series of recordings devoted to new interpretations of classic Disney’s melodies entitled EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT. The best tracks are those that veer the farthest from the original tune, only occasionally coming back to the well-known melody to give your…

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CD Review: Sound the Bells!


Every now and then a recording comes along that is so unexpectedly rewarding that you simply want to share it with everyone you know. Such a recording is Sound the Bells! – American Premieres for Brass, a collection of nine concert works performed by The Bay Brass, a group formed in 1995 made up of musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera orchestras. The main draw for film music fans will be the names John Williams and Bruce Broughton on the bill….

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CD Review: The Film and TV Music of Christopher Gunning


If you’re a fan of British TV and film, you’re probably already familiar with the music of Christopher Gunning. But arguably Gunning’s biggest success came in 2007 with his BAFTA-winning score for the Edith Piaf biopic, LA VIE EN ROSE, which netted Marion Cotillard an Oscar, as well as nearly every other Best Actress award. The haunting accordion waltz at the core of the score forms one of 12 suites from an excellent new Chandos compilation of THE FILM AND TV MUSIC OF CHRISTOPHER GUNNING. For 15 years, Gunning contributed music to AGATHA…

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CD Review: Cyrano de Bergerac


Edmund Rostand’s CYRANO DE BERGERAC has smelled like a winner since its premiere in 1897. The story of the unattractive poet and soldier with a rather large nasal protuberance who speaks his love for the beautiful Roxane through the handsome yet empty-headed Christian offers a swashbuckling tour de force role for any actor. In the mid-20th century, the role belonged to Jose Ferrer. Producer Stanley Kramer wanted to preserve Ferrer’s memorable Tony Award-winning performance and purchased the film rights specifically for the actor. Kramer and screenwriter Carl Foreman trimmed the talky three-hour play…

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CD Review: The King’s Speech

The King's Speech

As a longtime Oscar junkie, I live for the end of the year and the glut of Oscar bait that floods the multiplexes. The bait is no indication of quality but it usually means a step or two up from the mindless drivel of summer that is released through much of the rest of the year. High on the list of this year’s Oscar-worthy contenders is THE KING’S SPEECH. Following his lovely, layered performance in A SINGLE MAN last year, Colin Firth tops himself as Albert, the Duke of York…

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CD Review: Tangled


If I had my way, Alan Menken would score every animated film. He writes the kind of animated score I like–a traditional Disney “sound” mixed with a little Broadway razamataz. You know exactly what you’re going to get with a Menken score, and that brings with it a certain comfort level that I appreciate. That being said, the Disney formula that he perfected in the 1990s has had varying levels of success over the years as animated films moved away from the musical format. It’s been too long since Menken’s…

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CD Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

It’s no secret that I have no great affection for the Harry Potter films. From the very beginning, I’ve felt that the cinematic counterparts never matched the magic and wonder of J.K. Rowling’s prose. And though the three young leads have turned into decent actors, the myriad of directors and Steve Kloves’ pedestrian scripts have made their outcomes anticlimactic and devoid of emotion. In other words, I could give a damn what happens to them. That being said, I was excited when Alexandre Desplat was announced for HARRY POTTER AND…

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