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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)

 
   

 

 

 


 

THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974)

Music composed and conducted by Lalo Schifrin

17 Tracks (Playing Time = 41:36)

 

 

Performed by the London Studio Orchestra. Reissue produced by J.S.R. Lasher. Recording engineered by Richard Lewzey at CTS Studios, London. Remixing to stereo by Bill Drescher at Sound City Inc., Hollywood. Mastered by Tony Learmont at Sony Music Mastering, Sydney.

Hot Records L XCD16

Rating: ***

 

John Lasher’s Label X returns with several re-issues of film scores appearing
as imports here in the US.

THE FOUR MUSKETEERS is a rare opportunity to hear a Schifrin score in a more traditional swashbuckling style in this Richard Lester sequel, Legrand provided the score for the first film, THE THREE MUSKETEERS.

Lalo Schifrin’s score features an appropriately exciting “Main Theme” with woodwind writing that hovers between late Renaissance and early Baroque styles. The brass fanfares are what one imagines them to have been for the period of Dumas’ story. String writing is a bit more contemporary in style with rich harmonic writing and interesting syncopated rhythms. The melodic lines sometimes move beyond their early music feel into angular, almost jazz-like outlines. The ensemble itself is a full orchestra with added harpsichord (or virginal as identified in the notes), lutes, recorders, and military percussion. “The Chase at the Convent” is one of the more unusual action sequences where the music takes on a definite 20 th century feel with skittish strings moving along at such pace that the harmonic resolution is always in question (a fantastic way of accompanying a scene like this). Later in “The Frozen Pond Fight,” the pizzicato strings take on a more atonal quality, almost deconstructing the primary theme while eventually moving to the period sound for thematic presentation. The swing between stylistic sounds is so effortless that it easily is one of the highlights of the disc. What will strike the listener overall is just how fresh this sounds for the period. Schifrin is able to move smoothly from earlier styles to more contemporary ones without jarring the listener. A theme for Athos and one for Milady are given separate tracks.

The score stand in that long line of period dramas that includes Barry’s work on films like THE LION IN WINTER an whose like would only be superbly realized in Petit’s score for CYRANO (1990).

The notes are standard fare with general biographical information and a brief word from Lasher. The booklet is meager otherwise with extremely small printThe release features several additional tracks, nine more than its previous incarnation. Sound quality is mostly imperceptible between the marked tracks that came from different masters (a series of some of the music was inadvertently destroyed). These tracks are mostly at the end of the disc helping to ease the sound difference.

The reappearance of THE FOUR MUSKETEERS is a welcome addition to the catalogue and a reminder that Schifrin is one of our finest film composers. An earlier Label X version of this score appeared over ten years ago and featured music from THE EAGLE HAS LANDED and VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED. One can only hope that Lasher intends to surprise us with separate and expanded presentations of these scores in the near future, though there was surely room for at least one of them on this disc.

Still, this is still quite recommendable for fans of great film music.

 

--Steven A. Kennedy, 24 August 2008

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

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