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Sunday, December 04, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Dreamer and The Fearless Vampire Killers

Music by John Debney
Sony Classical/Sony Music Soundtrax SK 97742 (U.S.)
24 Tracks 64:23 mins

This charming little film, starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, tells of a trainer and his daughter who nurse an injured horse back to health, with an eye to racing him in the Breeder's Cup and sports a splendid orchestral score (with folksy touches) that is pure Americana.
Violinist Joshua Bell is hyped as having collaborated with the composer, but his input is actually quite minimal, and mostly present in the variations on the main theme, with, for me, Michael Lang's piano actually making a stronger impression. There are also nice solos throughout the score by Phil Ayling on oboe and Gary Bovyer on clarinet. The score, as one would expect, goes through all the emotions, joy, pain, triumph, it's all here.
A country-pop title song by Bethany Dillon appears as the penultimate track on the CD and then inexplicably appears again as a hidden track at the end.

The Fearless Vampire Killers
Music by Krzysztof Komeda
Harkit Records HRKCD8130
19 Tracks 30:09 mins

I first saw this black comedy at the local fleapit when I was in my teens. It was known as Dance of the Vampires then and it was one of the most strange and unique films I had seen up to that point, and I found the score equally unique - a mix of Philip Glass, Spaghetti Western sounds, jazz and baroque, and that's just for starters!
This CD is the third Komeda score recently put out by Harkit, and although the playing time is brief, with some very short cues indeed, for me it's the best. There are several striking themes, beginning with the flowing choral opening theme, which is kind of a forerunner to Philip Glass' Candyman music; then there's the playful romance of Sarah's Song (Sarah tragically being played by Sharon Tate, director and co-star Polanski's wife, who was of course shortly to fall victim to the Manson cult), heard in a number of variations throughout the disc; an amazing plucked bass motif for the various sledge rides across the snowy wastes; a lonely, sometimes over-the-top figure for solo soprano; and an ascending/decending figure for the rooftop sequences. Quite a fascinating mix, and on the strength of the music composed for this and the other Polanski films recently covered by Harkit, one wonders what other fascinating scores the composer may have gone on to write if he hadn't been taken from us so tragically young.
The colourful and informative accompanying booklet is again given in English and Polish.


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