Best CD Release of the Month
Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith.
13 Tracks (Playing Time = 53:17)
CD produced by Lukas Kendall. CD Executive Producer: Craig Spaulding. Executive Producer for Kritzerland: Bruce Kimmel. Digital Mastering: Bruce Botnick. Orchestrated by Arthur Morton. Recorded June 14-16, 1976 at Paramount Pictures Scoring Stage M, Hollywood, California.
Art Direction by Joe Sikoryak. CD Production assistance: Jeff Eldridge. CD booklet notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan.
Film Score Monthly Vol. 12, No. 20
Limited edition of 5,000 copies.
This score was reportedly Jerry Goldsmith's favorite of all the many film scores he comosed over his long career. That's saying a lot because he composed so many memorable scores --CHINATOWN, PLANET OF THE APES, PATTON, THE SAND PEBBLES, to name just a few. Four years after his passing, Goldsmith was selected for a Lifetime Achievement Sammy Award in 2008 for his total film score output.
This score has an understated, impressionistic style to it with lots of shimmering melodic patterns to coincide with the story based on the work of Ernest Hemingway, and the main actor in the story is a reflection of Hemingway himself.
The Main Title features the gorgeous theme which is described in the CD booklet notes as "the delicate, sighing main theme for Thomas Hudson (George C. Scott)." This main theme will reappear throughout the score and is never unwelcome because of the way Goldsmith shapes it in many different guises. It is one of his loveliest themes.
Goldsmith is known and loved especially for his terrific rhythmic motifs and that's true in this score as well, for example on track 5 ("Night Attack" - 3:22), which begins with the main theme and then morphs into a subtle buildup with increasingly animated strings and trumpet and horn accents like exclamation points. This is carried over to the next and most important cue, "The Marlin" (11:54), a masterful mix of sound gradations using soft and louder passages based on the main themes. As mentioned in the booklet notes, "Goldsmith develops and combines his main themes seamlessly." This would apply to other tracks as well sounds somewhat like an elaborate tone poem to the seafaring adventure.
As usual with FSM, the booklet is a handsome addition to the CD. The notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan are very detailed and helpful for those who have not seen the film, which unfortunately was not successful when it was first released. Kudos also to Joe Sikoryak for his excellent art design work on this attractive CD booklet.
There was a digital re-recording conducted by Jerry Goldsmith and produced by Intrada back in 1986 (total playing time = 51:18). That is also a very good release, but a bit shorter time and with much lower sound levels and a much shorter booklet, though it does contain a nice message from Goldsmith, who ends his message by writing:
"From the first viewing of a 'rough cut' to my last screening just a few days ago, a period of ten years has passed -- a period of time during which my emotional ties to this film have grown deeper and stronger."
The new FSM release is the original soundtrack and sounds more satisfying than the earlier Intrada release, thanks to the brilliant work of Bruce Botnick, who provides a helpful essay, "Mastering The Stream," in the CD booklet. His explanation of "Night Attack" (track 5) is full of tech talk but worth reading to find out what goes into making a successful film soundtrack restoration.
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM is yet another exceptional release in the continuing Film Score Monthly series of outstanding film soundtrack releases.
This CD rlease richly deserves to be named as Best of the Month.
--reviewed by Roger Hall
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