Soundtracks Reviews (B)

Uploaded Friday are soundtrack reviews for a pair of MovieScore Media releases, the Swedish label that’s managed to build up what’s arguably the most diverse international roster of composers around.

Back in 2006 I interviewed label bigwig Mikael Carlsson about his venture (which was then quite new), and many current titles are available upon release as downloadable MP3 albums as well as limited CDs for enthusiasts wanting a hardcopy.

Perhaps the biggest plus for film music fans has been the labels’ release of music by European composers generally unknown outside of the EU – mostly because many European films aren’t given Region 1 or English language releases. (Britain tends to offer the lone chance to see English subtitled versions of European films, as well as British productions, that whatever reasons don’t get picked up in Region 1 land.)

It may sound like a bias at hand – ‘If it’s not available in North America, then the film isn’t notable’ – but that’s wholly untrue. It’s the flipside: ‘Why the heck hasn’t anyone picked this up for distribution here when there’s so much direct to video dreck that makes it to a physical DVD instead?’

From a composer’s stand, the basic desire is that via an album release, their music reaches a broader audience and is appreciated and enjoyed – something that would satisfy any artist – but en even greater benefit would be more work for the composer, and it would be interesting to see if some of the artists featured on MSM releases have noticed whether their phones ring a bit more often now.

As once ardent film music collector (well, maybe scratch the word “once” and substitute “a still avid”), there was and remains the oddity where you hear a score for a film you’ve never heard of, and then wonder if the movie is as moving, shocking, terrifying, or hysterical as the score.

Gast Waltzing’s JCVD is a fun score, but it was surprising to see how few themes and variations actually made it into the final film edit. A more high profile illustration of contrast is John Powell’s X-Men: The Last Stand, which ranks as one of his and that year’s best action scores, and yet the film in no way lives up to the score’s depth. Neither the script nor Brett Ratner’s sterile direction evoked the power within the score, and it makes you wonder how a composer can be moved by a terrible film.

Preamble done with, the latest score reviews are Florian Tessloff’s Jasper: Journey to the End of the World, and Toxic from Scott Glasgow (Chasing Ghosts). Both scores are highly recommended.

And coming soon from Silva Screen is the complete score for Miklos Rozsa’s El Cid, which was previously released as a limited 3-CD set from Tadlow Music. Silva’s 2-disc set reissues the score proper (along with a downloadable .PDF version of the fat booklet), whereas the bonus CD (which featured alternate tracks as well as video footage from the recording session remains unique to the Tadlow release.

I reviewed the 3-disc set back in 2008, and it’s good to see Tadlow’s effort – it's their most expensive restoration and re-recording thus far – get a broad release and be part of Silva’s active catalogue. If you love Rozsa, it’s a no-brainer, and if you love epic historical film music, it’s also a no-brainer, because the music is amazing.

The movie itself is also worth hunting down if you’re a fan of Giant Epics, and for those fond of Hestonian kitsch, it’s the one that features a unique horse ride into glory in the final act.



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