With the continued market drop of CDs, most music submitted for review is from download sources. Notably, this means that a lot of music is released that even a decade ago would not have seen the light of day. For those of us who listen to a lot of new film music, that can make it often easier to note some that really do stand out among the pack and as far as new scores go, there are actually a few. One caveat is that I have not had a chance yet to hear Morricone’s new score which for his fans
is what John Williams’ The Force Awakens is for those fans.
There were a number of equally fine limited edition releases of older film scores, though these days that tends to be 1970s and newer then stuff from the Golden Age which tended to be hard to keep up with a decade or so ago.
First then, here are five scores worth revisiting from 2015.Fortunately, as in past few years,
Best New Releases
CINDERELLA – Patrick Doyle
Though certainly demanding to be in the grand style, Doyle’s score is really a magnificent throwback to the romantic films of 50 years ago. Whole sequences require music that is given free rein to unfold often with gorgeous results.
STAR WARS - THE FORCE AWAKENS - John Williams
Is it more of the same? Well, yes and no. The piano theme works quite well to provide a stunning difference from the rest of the musical intensity. The sound of the score builds upon Williams’ own compositional development and experiments as well and a few standalone themes and a new march may eventually find their way to frequent musical appearances. Though nothing stands out perhaps as some of the thematic threads did in the previous 6 scores.
CAROL and MR. HOLMES – Carter Burwell
I need to cheat a bit here (as I usually like to limit one score from a composer a year) with two wonderful, and slightly different scores from Carter Burwell. MR. HOLMES is a fascinating and often languid score that works quite well in the film which unfolds very slowly. But, it is CAROL that actually impresses more with touches of vibraphone (recalling Yared’s THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY) and some additional nods to MILLER’s CROSSINGand even FARGO. Both are stellar efforts from an often overlooked composer
TRUMBO – Theodore Shapiro
The film may have peaked too soon, but Shapiro’s jazzy score even seems to pull in the ghost of Bernard Herrmann at times (the “Prologue” and script montages are most fascinating in this respect). Also notable are some of the avant-garde stylistic approaches to help emphasize conflict in what is probably the composer’s finest work to date.
FAR FROM THE MADDENING CROWD – Craig Armstrong
Armstrong’s score for the Hardy update was another surprise of the year with strong thematic writing, especially a fine love theme, coupled with excellent orchestrations that help highlight the narrative well. At times it was like a blend of Warbeck and period drama Barry. Not bad company, and a score that plays well on its own to boot.
Other Notable CDs:
Some of the other additional surprises include Joe Kraemer’s exciting action score for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION; Rob Simonsen’s really touching score for THE AGE OF ADALINE; Hans Zimmer’s electronic experiments and reminders of his earlier days of composition with CHAPPIE; a rather delightful score from Ilan Eshkeri for the SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE; and one of Brian Tyler’s finest scores for the uneven drama TRUTH.
DOUBLE INDEMNITY: Paramount Film Noir in Hollywood –
Miklos Rozsa/Hugo Friedhofer/Franz Waxman/Gail Kubik/Leith Stevens/Heinz Roemheld/
Victor Young (Intrada)
Intrada seems to find a way of wowing film score fans the most towards the end of the year and that certainly happened with this 2-disc set bringing some great film noir scores together topped with Rozsa’s classic DOUBLE INDEMNITY. There some other gems here as well with a chance to hear Waxman’s SORRY, WRONG NUMBER being one of them. Music by Gail Kubik is also a rather intriguing surprise with its more angular and contemporary sound standing out uniquely—one of the likely reasons most of the score was not used. What the set does allow for is a chance to hear some lesser film scores that also helped to cement this particular musical approach in a really engaging release.
JAWS 2 (1978) – John Williams (Intrada)
Then there was JAWS 2. The label released this concurrently with JAWS which was remixed to correct some of the complaints from the previous expanded version from a few years ago. Personally, the themes and assuredness of the sequel score was always a favorite so having the score complete and in order was quite welcome. Though admittedly, the original album was still pretty good in terms of representation, the sound here is certainly greatly improved.
OBSESSION (1976) – Bernard Herrmann (Music Box Records)
Almost easy to overlook, Herrmann’s VERTIGO redux of sorts. OBSESSION, finally got a stellar reissue that allowed fans of his music to revel in the rich orchestral swirls and musical style of this grand master.
A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN (1969/1970) – Rod McKuen (Varese Sarabande Records)
Rod McKuen’s score for this Charles Schultz classic was a reminder of his great talent in a very nostalgic release that features wonderful songs and wistful underscoring.
The BELSTONE FOX (1973) – Laurie Johnson (Dragon’s Domain Records)
In the same children’s scoring vain, this new label showed wonderful promise with the release of Laurie Johnson’s touching score.