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Presents...

 

The 14th Annual Survey

Best Film Music Releases of 2011


 

Selected by Roger L. Hall

Introduction

Best New Film Score CDs

Best Golden Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Silver Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Compilation CDs

Best DVD with isolated score track and commentary

Best Album Producers

Best Record Labels

Best New Film Music Books

 

Selected by Steven A. Kennedy

Introduction

Best New Soundtrack CDs

Best Golden Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Silver and Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Compilation CDs

Other Links

Previous Best Film Music Releases (2005-2010)

100 Film Scores From The Past


The 24th Annual
Sammy Awards (or Sammys)
for Film Music CDs

will be announced on February 15, 2012

Most of the awards will be chosen
from among the Best of the Year titles on this page.

Read more at the

Sammy Awards


 

Introduction

 

When considering the merits of film music, a critic can only express his or her opinion based on what they hear. So this annual survey is naturally subjective.

Both Steve and I have been compiled these Best of the Year lists for many years now. I think our job as critics is to tell it like we hear it and judge them as fairly as possible.

Included in my list are Best New Film Score CDs, Album Producers, Record Labels, and Best DVD with isolated track, and Best Film Music Book.

My CD choices are based on only those I have listened to and no claim is made to be comprehensive. There are just too many releases to cover them all.

Other than the New Film Score CDs category, there
are three time periods for this Best of 2011 list:

The Golden Age -- 1930s to 1950s

The Silver Age -- 1960s and 1970s

The Bronze Age -- 1980s and 1990s

Fortunately, there remains a steady flow of these great film scores from the past.

As a film music historian, I'm grateful for this attention paid to our film music heritage. We need to remember and celebrate these classic film scores from the past as much as restore classic films from the past.

Now, on to my list for ...

 

The Best of 2011

Selected by Roger L. Hall

 


Best New Film Scores CDs of 2011

THE ARTIST
Music by Ludovic Bource

(Sony Classical)

 

THE GREATEST MIRACLE
Music by Mark McKenzie

(BSX Records)

 

 

HUGO
Music by Howard Shore

(Howe Records)

 

JANE EYRE
Music by Dario Marianelli

(Sony Classical)

 

WAR HORSE
Music by John Williams

(Sony Classical)

 


 

Best Golden Age Soundtrack CDs of 2011

CITIZEN KANE -
The Classic Film Scores of Bernard Herrmann
(RCA Red Seal)

 

THE EGYPTIAN -
Music by Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann
(Varese Sarabande, 2 CDs)

 

LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL -
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
(Counterpoint CD)

 

 

PROJECT MOON BASE -
Music by Hershel Burke Gilbert
(Monstrous Movie Music CD)

 



Best Silver Age Soundtrack CDs of 2011

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
(Prometheus, 2 CDs)

 

 

THE SAND PEBBLES
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
(Intrada 2 CDs)

 

 

SUMMER AND SMOKE
Music by Elmer Bernstein

(Kritzerland CD)

 

 

TARAS BULBA -
Music by Franz Waxman
(Tadlow Music, 2 CDs)

 

 

 


 


Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs of 2011

 

CONAN THE DESTROYER and
SWORD AND SORCERY: THE ADVENTURES OF CONAN
Music by Basil Poledouris
(Prometheus, 2 CDs)

 

 

 

POLTERGEIST
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
(Film Score Monthly, 2 CDs)

 

 

 

 

 


Best Compilation CDs of 2011

 


20th CENTURY FOX
75 YEARS OF GREAT FILM MUSIC
(Varese Sarabande - 3 CD Box Set)

LUCIE SVEHLOVA -
The Lark Ascending:
Classical and Film Music Violin Romances
(Tadlow Music)

 

 


Best DVD with isolated score track and commentary

 

 

THE EGYPTIAN
Isolated score track with music by Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman
Produced for DVD release by Brian Johnson and Nick Redman,
Notes by Julie Kirgo
(Twilight Time Blu-ray and DVD)

 


Best Album Producers

Douglass Fake

James Fitzpatrick

Nick Redman

David Schecter

Robert Townson

 


Best Record Labels

 

INTRADA

MONSTROUS MOVIE MUSIC

PROMETHEUS

TADLOW

VARESE SARABANDE

 

 


 

Best New Film Music Books

 

Film and Television Music: A Guide to Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews

FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC -
A Guide To Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews
Compiled and Edited by Warren M. Sherk

 

 

The Hollywood Film Music Reader
by Mervyn Cooke

 



 

The Best of 2011


Selected by Steven A. Kennedy

 

Introduction

2011 will likely be one of the final couple of years for CDs. With more brick-and-mortar stores closing and the increased interest in downloads, the audiophile will continue to be at a loss. The major labels announced that they will cease producing CDs within the next 5 years while many specialty labels seem to be flooding the market with one amazing release after another.

As film music goes, 2011 was a rather odd year. Most of the really good scores appeared in a flurry towards the end of the season. Among my picks for “Best New Soundtrack Releases,” are some pretty standard names (Desplat, Giacchino, Shore, Williams) and probably a couple of surprises.

If I were to pick just five “must” scores for 2011, it would still be difficult, but one would have to start with Ludovic Bource’s gorgeous work for THE ARTIST. This throwback to the Silent and Golden Age of film dramatically (the film is shot in black and white and is “silent” except for the musical score) is really an amazing accomplishment.

John Williams’ had two scores back-to-back as the year ended, but the one that will stand in memory will be his moving accompaniment for WAR HORSE.

Though most of Desplat’s score was missing from the resulting film, the release of his music for Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE is still stunning as an orchestral work and worthy of your attention.

Alberto Iglesias had two scores appear as the year ended and it is really a close call as to which one is preferable. The Herrmann-like sound he has perfected for Pedro Almodovar’s films is on fine display in THE SKIN I LIVE IN while a noir-ish style finds its way into the superb TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (and I prefer the latter..today).

Howard Shore’s score for HUGO is fascinating because we get to hear some new directions in the composer’s music alongside some of his hallmark sound.

There are several “guilty pleasure” scores from the year as well. First up is Patrick Doyle’s amazing work on RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Seriously one of the finest scores the composer has provided in some time in a genre that he has somewhat avoided. THOR perhaps got more attention, and is a strong score, but it is the former that features a great deal of integrated writing and technique.

Desplat’s score for the final HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was well done with some revisiting of classic themes, but with strong scoring and original thematic writing bringing that franchise to a close.

Henry Jackman continues to build an impressive catalogue of scores and the surprise hit of the summer, X-MEN FIRST CLASS featured one of that franchises strongest musical supports as well. It is a great action score that works well in the film.

Michael Giacchino continues to prove he is the newer generation’s top choice and has a grip on classic film scoring technique and enough originality to keep things fresh. His score for SUPER 8 was fine, but the guilty pleasure for me was the scoring for MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE—GHOST PROTOCOL. Reminiscent of his STAR TREK scoring approach, MI 4 featured strong thematic writing and the sort of integration of Schifrin’s classic theme to help provide the necessary glue for a rather strong action film. It is simply a lot of fun to listen to on its own.

I would be remiss to not mention a few scores also that perked up my ears in 2011 that otherwise get lost in the over-attention to more familiar names and scores. These are often for films that just did not work, or which got lost in the shuffle of many scores and films in 2011.

Of many, the one I return to quite a bit is Conrad Pope’s gorgeous score for MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. Desplat provided a theme, but Pope manages to show off his own ability quite well.

Mark Isham’s fascinating score for THE MECHANIC is also worth a look for his fans.

I have been enjoying Murray Gold’s DOCTOR WHO scores quite a bit and have wished for some even broader canvasses for the composer to see what he would do. While not the best film in the world, his music for HOODWINKED TOO!—HOOD VS. EVIL is a great little action adventure score that will have to satisfy for now.

Also quite interesting was Lorne Balfe’s score for the period war film IRONCLAD which addresses the revolt against King John at the time of the Magna Carta. The film features an oddly cast, but still interesting Paul Giamatti as the King. Balfe’s score works quite well on its own and in the film.

And the new discovery for 2011 may be Daniel Alcheh with his score for the odd little film THE MAN WHO COLLECTED FOOD.

 

 

Best New Soundtrack CDs of 2011

 

Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows Part 2

Listed in alphabetical order:

THE ARTIST– Ludovic Bource

THE CAPE – Bear McCreary

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, Part 2 –
Alexandre Desplat

HUGO– Howard Shore

MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE—GHOST PROTOCOL–
Michael Giacchino

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Patrick Doyle

THE SKIN I LIVE IN – Alberto Iglesias

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY – Alberto Iglesias

THE TREE OF LIFE – Alexandre Desplat

WAR HORSE – John Williams

X-MEN FIRST CLASS – Henry Jackman

 

Honorable Mention:

HOODWINKED TOO!—HOOD VS. EVIL – Murray Gold

IRONCLAD – Lorne Balfe

THE MAN WHO COLLECTED FOOD – Daniel Alcheh

THE MECHANIC – Mark Isham

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN –Conrad Pope (themes by Alexander Desplat)

 

 

 

 


Best Golden Age Releases of 2011

 

Perhaps it is just a sign of the times that one generation and their interest begins to lag behind another. I know I find myself realizing that some of my favorite childhood films are in their quarter-century mark at any rate! That being the case, it means that many films from the 1950s or earlier are being lost in the shuffle and Golden Age releases seem to languish. That said, there were still some fascinating releases that are worth exploring that come from the earlier days of cinema.

The oldest of these is Gottfried Huppertz fascinating score for Lang’s METROPOLIS (1927) in a fully-restored and lovingly performed release on Capriccio. The music is filled with a fascinating blend of modernism, Romanticism, and is a great window on the styles of music popular at the time of the film’s release.

The release of a 1926 score for CARMEN by Ernesto Halffter on Naxos is also a great example of early original film scoring. It was quite a surprise to get two such treasures in a single year. We jump up into the 1950s for my other three picks (arguably outside of traditional “Golden Age” borders).

Hands down, my favorite release from this period was Kritzerland’s THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION coupled with KINGS GO FORTH. The former score is by George Antheil, woefully underrepresented on disc, the latter by Elmer Bernstein. It is Antheil’s score which impresses the most and is worth tracking down in this limited edition.

Many were the times as a child we spent with the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney and it was here where my next pick created a lasting impression. Paul J. Smith is not a name one may ever hear, but he worked at the Disney studios crafting fine music and arrangements. Intrada’s new arrangement with Disney allowed the release of his wonderful score for 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. For many film music fans, or lovers of this great film, the release will be quite welcome.

Metropolis

 

CARMEN – Ernesto Halffter ( Naxos) - CD review

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE–
Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter (Monstrous Movie Music) - CD review

METROPOLIS – Gottfried Huppertz (Capriccio) - CD review

THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION – George Antheil and
KINGS GO FORTH - Elmer Bernstein (Kritzerland)

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA – Paul J. Smith (Disney/ Intrada)

 

 

 


Best Silver and Broze Age CDs

 

When it comes to music from 1960s and on, it is obvious that the availability of 1980s film music has caused many of these modern classic scores to find their way to disc.

The big surprise of the year was part of the Disney/Intrada partnership and brought John Barry’s oft-requested music for THE BLACK HOLE to disc finally.

Perseverance also managed to get another science fiction score to disc in Elmer Bernstein’s fascinating music for SLIPSTREAM.

Film Score Monthly, while announcing that they would be exiting the CD production business, managed many fine releases of which Ennio Morricone’s superb score for an early Malick film DAYS OF HEAVEN has to be one of their finest releases.

Tadlow’s re-recordings (also on the Prometheus label) brought to disc a fabulous performance of Franz Waxman’s TARAS BULBA and music from the Conan universe by Basil Poledouris, of which CONAN THE DESTROYER is perhaps the most surprising of the two with its added suite of music for the second disc.

La-La Land surely hit its stride with a number of phenomenal releases of which Goldsmith’s complete score for FIRST KNIGHT was one of the best [See Steve Vertlieb's review of FIRST KNIGHT.]

Varese’s Club releases focused much on later music and their expanded release of Marco Beltrami’s superb score for MIMIC will increase appreciation for the one score that perked up the ears of film music fans.

First Knight (Expanded Score) (Two Disc Set)

THE BLACK HOLE – John Barry (Disney/ Intrada)

CONAN THE DESTROYER – BASIL POLEDOURIS (Prometheus)

DAYS OF HEAVEN – Ennio Morricone (FSM)

FIRST KNIGHT – Jerry Goldsmith ( La-La Land)

MIMIC – Marco Beltrami ( Varese Sarabande Club)

SLIPSTREAM – Elmer Bernstein (Perseverance)

TARAS BULBA – Franz Waxman (Tadlow)

 

 

 


Best Compilation CDs

 

The realm of compilation releases continues to flourish, more so as downloaded albums than hard-copy discs as labels discover cheaper ways of delivering smaller amounts of music to fans. There were some fine releases though worth tracking down.

Chandos’ film music surveys brought to light the work of Brian Easdale (THE RED SHOES) in yet another gorgeous display of recording and fine film music surveys of a singular composer.

From Oehms Classics, there was a quirky chamber orchestra collection of film music, Cinema Concertante, that featured arrangements from the Kurpfalzisches Chamber Orchestra’s popular concerts of film music.

Carl Davis released a special set of musical suites from his film music on his own label, Heroines in Music.

And Delos continued its reissue of classic Shostakovich film music with a fine collection that included THE GOLDEN AGE as well as a couple of animated scores by the composer.

Silva also put out a number of compilations that continue to surprise and feature a fine variety of music. Their second Zimmer volume was a fine follow-up to an earlier collection.

The release of music from Steve Jablonsky’s work on the reboot of TRANSFORMERS provides a fine overview of that music.

The really fun highlight was a new Michel Legrand release from his work with the Moscow Virtuosi that is filled with great music.


The Film Music of Brian Easdale – Brian Easdale (Chandos) - CD review

Cinema Concertante – Various composers (Oehms Classics) - CD review

Film Music of Hans Zimmer, vol. 2 – Hans Zimmer (Silva)

Heroines in Music – Carl Davis (Carl Davis Collection) - CD review

Music from the films (Volume 5) - THE GOLDEN AGE, THE SILLY LITTLE MOUSE, ADVENTURES OF KORZINKINA, and TALE OF THE PRIEST – Dmitri Shostakovich ( Delos) - CD review

The Music of Michel Legrand – Michel Legrand (Silva) - CD review

Music from the Transformers Trilogy – Steve Jablonsky (Silva)

 



 

Previous Best Film Music Releases

Best Film Music CDs of the Decade
(2000-2009)

 

Yearly Surveys

13th Annual Survey for 2010

12th Annual Survey for 2009

11th Annual Survey for 2008

10th Annual Survey for 2007

9th Annual Survey for 2006

8th Annual Survey for 2005

 

 


100 Film Scores From The Past

 

Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

See also

Film composers on radio and television


 

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Film Music Review (Winter-Spring 2012)


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