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May 11th - Music by John Barry

Music by John Barry - book cover Out now is a new book called "Music by John Barry" about the composer John Barry and his film music. The hefty 500-page tome was written by Jon Burlingame, Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker who between them had already amassed a lot of information about the composer, providing detailed CD jacket notes for many album releases, but further research has produced a lot of substantially new material. Burlingame we have mentioned before as the author of The Music of James Bond and the latest book follows the same pattern of having dedicated chapters per film. But there the similarity ends with the latest book's sole focus on Barry across the breadth of his work. I've not finished reading the book, but it is engrossing for all film music fans and lavishly illustrated with photos from Barry's wide-ranging career. It can be found on Amazon.co.uk.

April 22nd - Latest mfiles improvements

Romantic Piano - album cover Improvements have been made to the audio options for some mfiles music tracks (e.g. Fur Elise). These tracks have been re-recorded with improved playback and enhanced audio. Sets of related tracks have been released as online albums, so that the improved audio can then be played back through various streaming platforms such as Spotify & Apple Music. The albums have been distributed using a service called Songtradr, which means those tracks are also now available to be licensed in full hi-definition audio. So far 3 albums have been released (Romantic Piano, Baroque Piano and Ragtime Piano) with a combined total of 61 tracks. This is only a fraction of our existing catalogue, but over time further albums will be released, with a focus on classical and instrumental tracks. Midi & mp3 files will continue to be included, for those who don't use streaming services or need an option for budget licensing.

April 14th - Gerry Anderson in Concert

Gerry Anderson in Concert - Promo With apologies for the short notice, "Gerry Anderson in Concert" will premiere at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 16th April. Gerry Anderson of course is the creator of many TV shows, many (though not all) featuring puppets and including Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Terrahawks and Space Precinct. Barry Gray was the composer for many of Anderson's best-known shows although the music of other composers who worked with him will also feature in the concert, including Richard Harvey (Terrahawks) and Crispin Merrell (New Captain Scarlet). Richard Harvey is a BAFTA-winning composer, and he will conduct a full orchestra for the concert. For more information and booking see the BMusic website. Finally if they are calling this a "premiere" then it suggests this could be the first concert of a tour, so there is hope for those of us who stay many miles from Birmingham.

March 30th - 2022 Film Music Awards so far

Hans Zimmer: Dune - film score album cover All the big Film Music Awards were again in agreement this year, with Hans Zimmer winning the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the Oscar for his score to the epic movie "Dune". Press photographs showed Zimmer wearing a bathrobe and holding a plastic oscar statuette outside his hotel in Amsterdam, having been woken by his daughter to tell him he had won the Oscar. The composer was staying in Amsterdam where he is continuing his European Live tour after performing recently in London's O2 arena. The "Best Song" Golden Globe and Oscar went to Billie Eilish for her title track to the Bond film No Time to Die, which was also scored by Zimmer. The success of the "Dune" movie at the box office will hopefully mean that sequels will hit our cinemas in the coming years, all based on the books of Frank Herbert. In other news the nominations were announced today for both sets of the BAFTA Television Awards (since they are split into "Television" and "Television Craft" awards). The "Dune" film score album is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

March 17th - Erwann Chandon: Simon's Got a Gift

Erwann Chandon: Simon's Got a Gift - album cover Continuing our search for talented yet relatively unknown composers, we introduce the French composer Erwann Chandon and his score for "La dernière vie de Simon". This translates as "The Last Life of Simon" but the English title "Simon's Got a Gift" is more enigmatic. Chandon's music shows a rare intimacy with the orchestra with some great writing for woodwind and tuned percussion, orchestral colours frequently neglected on film scores. The Gift in the title is a superpower that Simon has, and the early parts of the score reflect this with a magical quality. But his gift gets him into trouble and the score accompanies him during his unusual yet emotional coming-of-age journey. The score won the Prix ​​Michel Legrand in 2021 for Best Emerging Talent and also Best Original Score at the Boston Sci-fi Film Festival last month. You can hear the film score on various streaming services at this album link for La dernière vie de Simon.

February 22nd - Contretemps rescored by Hervé Gilles

Contretemps (Setback) is a short animated film released in Sept 2021 by Gobelins, a French Visual Arts School. The film highlights the everyday issues faced by someone with OCD. The film also touches on the topic of music, since it involves the misplacing of a ligature, used to hold the reed on a clarinet's mouthpiece. The video alongside shows the film as re-scored for orchestra in a blend of post-romantic and avant-garde styles by composer Hervé Gilles. You might want to compare the result with the music on the Original Film which has a minimal soundtrack by Arthur Dairaine with sound design elements.

January 25th - Patrick Doyle: Robert Burns - Love Songs for Solo Piano

Patrick Doyle: Robert Burns - Love Songs for Solo Piano, album cover To tie-in with Burns Night tonight, Scottish film composer Patrick Doyle has produced an album of Burns songs called "Robert Burns - Love Songs for Solo Piano". The composer has arranged and performed these instrumental songs, and the first single "My Luve's Like a Red Rose" is out now on streaming platforms. The 2nd single "Ae Fond Kiss" will be available later this week from 28th January, though unfortunately you will need to wait until 25th February to get the full album whose cover is shown alongside. Update: You can now stream the Full Album while the first single can be played below:

 

January 12th - Andrew Lloyd Webber: Symphonic Suites

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Symphonic Suites - album cover "Symphonic Suites" is an album of orchestral suites of music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals. This may be the first in a series of albums, and contains suites for Evita, Sunset Blvd & Phantom of the Opera. Each suite is a continuous single track of 20-plus minutes, the music is orchestrated by Andrew Cottee and the album produced by the composer's son Nick Lloyd Webber. Suites such as this make ideal vehicles for showing familiar music in a new light, and these tracks remind us what a great tunesmith Andrew Lloyd Webber is. The album was recorded and released in 2021, the same year that his new musical Cinderella hit theatres after suffering Covid delays. In the media, the composer championed the impact of pandemic restrictions on the arts, those very restrictions making us better appreciate the value of live music. The album may have been gestating over some time, but the lean year may have provided some slack in an otherwise busy schedule to complete the project, albeit those restrictions provided many new challenges when it came to recording such a large orhestra. The music is everything you imagine and is highly recommended. It is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

December 29th - Black Angel by Trevor Jones

Trevor Jones: Black Angel (1980) - film poster There's an interesting story behind an early film score by composer Trevor Jones. George Lucas commissioned Roger Christian to make a short film to be released along with "The Empire Strikes Back". The result was "Black Angel" and seen by people in the UK and some other countries along with the 2nd Star Wars film back in 1980. The film was a medieval fantasy shot in various locations across Scotland and scored Trevor Jones, then an up-and-coming film composer. Since "Black Angel" had a similar setting, it influenced John Boorman when it came to "Excalibur" released the following year in 1981, and Trevor Jones was asked to score Excalibur too. The film negative of Black Angel was thought lost when Rank Film Laboratories closed, but it turned up again in 2011. The film was restored and shown to acclaim at film festivals, and you can now see the complete short film Black Angel on youtube, with an introduction by Roger Christian. The filmmaker is now in pre-production on a feature-length adaptation.

December 6th - The Shadow in my Eye by Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders & Ceiri Torjussen

Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders & Ceiri Torjussen: Shadow in my Eye - film score album cover "The Shadow in my Eye" ("Skyggen i mit øje") has so far been released only in Denmark, but hopefully we can soon expect to see it released elsewhere. Based on tragic events in the final months of World War II, the story tells of a British RAF bomb attack on the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, when some bombers mistakenly target a local school with devastating consequences. The movie has had very favourable reviews, and the film trailer on youtube is itself extremely harrowing. However the emotionally charged film score by Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders and Ceiri Torjussen has already been released worldwide. You can find the score here on your preferred download/streaming service, and more about the music can be found on the record label page at Moviescore Media.

November 29th - The Bureau of Magical Things by Brett Aplin

Brett Aplin: The Bureau of Magical Things "The Bureau of Magical Things" is an Australian TV series though available elsewhere on Amazon. It is a comedy YA series involving magical things, as the title suggests, though in a modern setting. The score is by Australian composer Brett Aplin, and as you might expect a major reference point for listeners is the music of Harry Potter, though with a lighter more comedic touch. The orchestration is dominated with strings and woodwind supported by the likes of harp and celeste. It all makes for a fun score, but there are plenty of darker touches giving overall balance, with some suspense and action, but also more reflective and emotional moments. The full score will be released on 1st December, see these links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, but some individual teaser tracks are already available, including the End Titles on Spotify. Season 2 has now been released, so look out for that too!

November 27th - Stephen Sondheim (1930 – 2021)

Stephen Sondheim Sadly we must report the death of songwriter Stephen Sondheim at the age of 91. Sondheim was almost predestined to get involved in musicals. As a boy he became close friends with James Hammerstein, the son of the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II who was half of the Rogers & Hammerstein partnership. Through the elder Hammerstein, the young Sondheim was introduced to the world of musicals and a number of their creators such as future collaborator Hal Prince. Most people probably became first aware of Sondheim as the lyricist for "West Side Story" possibly the best musical of all time, working with composer Leonard Bernstein. However he went on to be the sole creative force behind several musicals including "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Company", "Follies", "A Little Night Music" and "Sunday in the Park with George". Cinema tends to be more widely accessible than theatre, and two of Sondheim's stage musicals have in recent years been adapted into film musicals: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and "Into the Woods".

October 26th - World Soundtrack Awards 2021

World Soundtrack Awards - winners 2021 The winners of the World Soundtrack Awards were presented this past weekend in Ghent. The Film Composer of the Year Award went to Daniel Pemberton, for his work on "Rising Phoenix", Enola Holmes and "The Trial of the Chicago 7". The Television Composer of the Year was Carlos Rafael Rivera for his work on "The Queen's Gambit" and "Hacks" (Season 1). The Best Original Song was awarded to "Call me Cruella" (from Cruella) written by Nicholas Britell (who also scored the movie), Florence Welch, Steph Jones, Jordan Powers and Taura Stinson. The Discovery of the Year award went to Nainita Desai for her score to the documentary "The Reason I Jump", which we mentioned in this blog back in June. Other awards went to Benji Merrison (Public Choice Award), Dougal Kemp (Best Original Composition by a Young Composer) and Eleni Karaindrou (Lifetime Achievement Award). Check out more on the World Soundtrack Awards News page.

October 20th - Mikis Theodorakis and Leslie Bricusse

Mikis Theodorakis: Zorba the Greek - score album cover Leslie Bricusse: Scrooge - score album cover First a belated mention that the composer Mikis Theodorakis passed away last month at the age of 96. His music was wide-ranging including Symphonies, Plays, Ballets, Operas and Chamber Music mostly using elements of traditional Greek music. But he is best known for his film scores especially "Zorba the Greek" and "Serpico". The next mention is for the composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse who died yesterday. The London-based Bricusse co-wrote a number of film and stage musicals often with his writing partner the late Anthony Newley. The most famous of these included "Doctor Doolittle", "Peter Pan", "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" and "Scrooge". He often co-wrote or contributed lyrics for songs such as "Feeling Good" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?" (with Newley), Bond Songs "Goldfinger" and "You Only Live Twice" (with John Barry) and with John Williams he wrote "Somewhere in My Memory" for "Home Alone", and "Can You Read My Mind?" the Love Theme from "Superman" as well as songs for "Hook".

October 11th - Animated short: The Ribbon

Jonathan Galland: The Ribbon - score album cover

 

Back in 2019 we posted a review of Jonathan Galland's score for the animated short called "The Ribbon". You can find that score review here. The film, written and directed by Polla-Ilariya Kozino, has performed very well on the festival circuit, winning numerous awards. The film itself has now been released in full (little more than 4 minutes in length) on youtube. Find the movie at this link: The Ribbon.

 

September 30th - Roadkill by Harry Escott

Harry Escott: Roadkill - album cover "Roadkill" the TV series shown in late 2020 was about a politician and his complex relationships. It starred Hugh Laurie and the late Helen McCrory in one of her last roles. The series was notable for its well-rounded multi-dimensional characters and for its music by Harry Escott, a worthy winner of the Best Original Music at the BAFTA TV Craft awards! The composer used a small Jazz Combo of Piano, Bass, Clarinet, Drumkit and Percussion. The music is quirky, jazzy, dark yet bordering on whimsical, often rhythmic, sometimes thoughtful and occasionally strident. There is a main theme but it is constantly evolving. This excellent score is now available to download from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. There is also some piano sheet music available from this link at Faber.

September 15th - Q The Music: Farewell Tour

I've previously mentioned "Q The Music Show" in this Blog. They are a very accomplished James Bond tribute Band who have entertained people for many years. Sadly on this occasion I report that the Band have announced their farewell tour, with their final concerts scheduled for 2022. I attended their first West End Concert at the Adelphi Theatre in London, and it looks as though the Theatre will again host the Band for their final concert in 2022. Other concert dates and locations for 2021 and 2022 are listed on the Band's website. This is your last chance to hear them live! In the meantime here is their rendition of "Nobody Does It Better":

August 11th - Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin: The Edge of the Sea

Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin: The Edge of the Sea - album cover "The Edge of the Sea" album consists of two works, both collaborations by Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin based around the tradition of Gaelic psalm singing in the Western Isles of Scotland. Gaelic psalm singing is normally performed acapella, but in these works the composers have added supporting instrumental accompaniment and some entirely instrumental movements from a small string ensemble. The first work on the album is called "Ballantyne", and was commissioned by An Lanntair, the Arts Centre in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The album's second work "Martyrdom" was composed first for an initial performance at Edinburgh Castle, and it uses a traditional hymn tune of the same name. The whole album is beautiful and deeply moving and can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

June 29th - Nainita Desai: The Reason I Jump

Nainita Desai: The Reason I Jump - Film Score Album "The Reason I Jump" is a documentary film (based on a book by Naoki Higashida) which aims to give an insight into the world as experienced by non-verbal autistic young people. Although context is provided through the relatives of those on the autistic spectrum, the film aims to convey their own inner experiences through thought-provoking imagery. The music score by Nainita Desai adds an important dimension to that imagery to bring these unusual and sometimes overwhelming experiences to life. The score is an impressionistic mix of traditional instruments (particularly strings) with found sounds and a range of auditory effects. For example some tracks splice brief segments of speech in a way that might suggest a confusion of thought or a struggle to communicate, though sometimes these seemingly random snippets will coalesce briefly into a section of lucid song. The film has won awards on the festival circuit and is now on release in many countries. The OST album is equally powerful and available on vinyl plus to stream/download on the usual platforms, including Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

June 2nd - Christophe Beck: WandaVision

Christophe Beck: WandaVision - Episode 1 album cover Christophe Beck is probably best-known for the "Frozen" movies, where he provided the film scores to go along with the songs written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Among his other wide-ranging film score credits he has the two Ant-Man movies for Marvel. He recently brought those experiences together for the Marvel television series "WandVision" for which the Lopez song-writing duo also wrote various songs. The production references lots of TV series from various decades with a lot of early focus on shows like Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Initially it seems like Wanda and Vision are stuck in some kind of period TV sitcom, but then strange things start to happen. Christopher Beck captures this mystery expertly in the show's end credits, and in many ways this is the stand-out piece of music from the show. You can sample and download the track from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

May 16th - Marco Werba: Giallo - Promo Release

Marco Werba: Giallo - promo 2021 album cover Many thanks to Marco Werba. I'm very pleased to have contributed the liner notes for the composer's limited edition promotional CD release of his score to "Giallo". Giallo was premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009 and released later that year. The film was directed by Dario Argento (best known for his horror movies) and starred Adrian Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner and Elsa Pataky. The original CD (released by Kronos Records) had 28 score tracks and 2 bonus tracks which were remixes of the Giallo theme - this was reviewed here on mfiles. The new release builds on this with a further 2 bonus tracks. One is a piano version played by Claire Delerue, the daughter of the composer Georges Delerue, and the other is a concert suite of music from the film.

May 6th - Nomadland soundtrack and Ludovico Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi and other artists: Nomadland Soundtrack - album coverLudovico Einaudi and other artists: Nomadland Soundtrack - album back cover If you've not yet come across the movie "Nomadland", it is the multiple Oscar-winning film based on the book by Jessica Bruder, adapted for the screen and directed by Chloé Zhao. It features another mesmerising performance by Frances McDormand, and the soundtrack puts together music from multiple sources. Several tracks are by Italian composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi and he has the credit "Featuring the Music of Ludovico Einaudi" rather than "Composer" presumably because the music wasn't written to screen but taken from existing albums. You've almost certainly heard his music on movies, TV, adverts and trailers as it has frequently been used during the past decade or two. The soundtrack album has 4 of the composer's tracks and can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

April 14th - World's First Soundtrack Album NFT

Giovanni Rotondo: Orphans and Kingdoms - NFT limited edition album cover Giovanni Rotondo: Orphans and Kingdoms - NFT 'Thief' Unique edition album cover Giovanni Rotondo You might or might not have heard of NFTs (or "non-fungible tokens"). They are digital assets which have certifiable ownership using blockchain technology. A number of visual artists have released works using the technology, and musicians are also now exploring the possibilities. Aphex Twin, Deadmau5, Kings of Leon and the rapper Lil Pump are all said to be releasing albums in this way. It is a way of creating a limited edition of a digital item which cannot be forged. Now the first film score has been released as an NFT. A couple of years ago we published a review of a film score album called Orphans & Kingdoms by the composer Giovanni Rotondo. The composer has now released this album in two forms, a limited edition of 100 with high quality music from the movie (including a 20-minute previously unreleased track), and multiple HD graphic and video files of the custom made artwork! There is also a unique version (limited edition of 1) which includes the same materials but also a "signed confession of theft". If this intrigues you, view and bid for these items (a world exclusive) at the links provided! See the composer's own blog post for more information about the technology and how he came to be the first soundtrack composer to use it.

March 26th - BAFTA Game (Music) Awards

BAFTA have now announced the final Game awards, with the Game Music Award going to John Paesano, Scott Hanau and Alex Hackford for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. But before the announcement a Zoom call of the nominees was conducted with Louise Bain interviewing Joe Thwaites, Ilan Eshkeri, Gustavo Santaolalla, Gareth Coker, Darren Korb & Joe Paesano as sole or lead composers for their respective nominated Game scores. That Zoom session is available on youtube, and it is interesting to see some common threads across these very unique games, with some noteable differences in the music approach. (Best viewed full screen!)

March 16th - Film Music Awards 2021

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste: Soul - album cover The Film industry (like many others) has been severely impacted by the pandemic during 2020 and into 2021, affecting many aspects of film production and theatrical releases. Most of the key Film Awards have also been affected, with delays in the selection process and online or restricted presentation ceremonies. Nevertheless the Golden Globes have been and gone, and the BAFTA and Oscar nominations have now been announced. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross beat themselves to win the Golden Globe for Best Score for "Soul" (with their score for "Mank" also nominated) alongside Jon Batiste who arranged and recorded the Jazz sessions for "Soul". Those same two films are also in the running in the Original Score category for both BAFTA and Oscar, so Reznor and Ross are well-placed for multiple awards this year. Winning the Golden Globe in the Original Song category is "Io sì (Seen)" sung by Laura Pausini on the soundtrack for "The Life Ahead", an Italian produced film released on Netflix and starring Sophia Loren. Here is the song's official music video. Check out Film Music Awards 2021 for the nominations so far, and this page will be updated as winners are announced.

March 10th - Patrick Doyle: All is True

Patrick Doyle: All is True - album cover Kenneth Branagh and regular collaborator composer Patrick Doyle are no strangers to the world of Shakespeare, having created many adaptations of his plays. But "All is True" is different, being a fictional tale (written by Ben Elton) about the playwright his family. The film stars Branagh as the playwright, Judi Dench as his wife, and Ian McKellen. The story is set towards the end of the bard's life, and deals with family relationships and the earlier death of his son. Given this strained domestic setting it is not surprising that some of the music is sombre in tone. However much of it is lyrical and pleasing in a folksy way. The focus seems to be on piano and strings with added Virginal to give a little period flavour. Doyle is good at capturing simplicity, and there is a recurring elegiac melody which later becomes the music for Shakespeare's "Fear No More" as sung by Doyle's daughter Abigail. This is followed by another beautiful melody for "I Know a Bank", with the lingering impression that this is about peace and reconciliation for a previously dysfunctional family. The album for "All is True" is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

February 3rd - Nigel Hess: The Way of Light

Nigel Hess: The Way of Light - album cover "The Way of Light" is a new album by composer Nigel Hess. Though Hess is best known as a composer for film and television, this album brings together a range of stand-alone music albeit with some connections to the big screen. The album kicks off with "A Celebration Overture" very much akin to John Williams' non-film 'event music' such as for various Olympic Games. Hess's "Kyrie" is a marked contrast for a capella voices based on his theme for the movie "Ladies in Lavender" with a glorious part for Soprano. "March Barnes Wallis" is a fine military march commemmorating the inventor of the bouncing bomb, and the music has 'flying' written all over it. The "Jesu Joy variations" is the work made famous by Nigel's great-aunt the celebrated pianist Dame Myra Hess. Bach's original music is frequently unrecognisable under romantic pianistic flourishes and touches of jazz. "The Old Man of Lochnagar Suite" comes from Hess' music for a ballet based on the book by Prince Charles and first performed by the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain. The three movements kick off with some spirited dance music very much a cousin of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring". This is performed with a large theatre orchestra led by woodwinds and augmented by Scottish instruments in the form of bagpipes and fiddle. These initial tracks are just a sample of the album's contents and the album continues to surprise, move and entertain the listener until it closes with the title track "The Way of Light" which is like the grand finale of a lavish musical theatre production. The album is released on Friday 5th February at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

January 12th - Alastair Penman: Do You Hear Me?

Alastair Penman: Do You Hear Me? - album cover It seems difficult to influence big issues like climate change, but we can all make a difference. A Swedish schoolgirl is an exceptional example but with "Do You Hear Me?" saxophonist Alastair Penman is aiming to do his bit as an influencer, and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Environmental charities. The EP consists of 4 tracks, most with something of a jazzy vibe thanks to the composer's saxophones: "Do you hear me?" is a funky experimental affair with shades of the Radiophonic Workshop. "Our house is on Fire" quotes Greta Thunberg and has something of an fun upbeat, pop rock feel. The video for "Ignorant Complicity" has some uncomfortable video images from today's meat producers, while its music feels close to some of the more amelodic score sections from Bernstein's West Side Story. The final track "Change is Coming" starts with a morse-code introduction which morphs into an ambient background like Philip Glass in pointillist mode with Penman's sax riffs over the top. The music has some important messages but can equally be enjoyed for its own sake. You can preview the videos on the composer's youtube playlist or you can make a small difference purchasing the CD or download versions at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

More Music News from Jim's Blog posts

For current and recent new items, see Jim's Blog.

For older posts, the archive pages are Jim's Blog 2020, Jim's Blog 2019, Jim's Blog 2018, Jim's Blog 2017, Jim's Blog 2016, Jim's Blog 2015, Jim's Blog 2014, Jim's Blog 2013, Jim's Blog 2012, Jim's Blog 2011, Jim's Blog 2010, and Jim's Blog 2009.