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Sunday, March 26, 2006

CD REVIEW - Carwithen: Orchestral Works & News from Costa Communications

Carwithen: Orchestral Works
Music by Doreen Carwithen
Chandos Classics CHAN 10365X
9 Tracks 57:35 mins

These recordings, made in 1996, are not of screen music, but rather "classical music" composed by a lady who wrote more than thirty film scores before leaving that field to devote herself to the man who was to become her husband, and another, more prolific, film composer, William Alwyn. Nevertheless, the music presented here I found quite cinematic and more pleasurable than much concert music I have been exposed to.
The disc opens with the overture ODTAA, which was written in 1945 and was suggested by John Masefield's novel. It opens furiously before turning tranquil, but then builds to a triumphant conclusion.
Next up is the centrepiece of the disc, 1948's Concerto for Piano and Strings, the first movement of which again features a furious opening, becoming quite rhapsodic, before a scherzo leads us into something of a nocturne before racing to it conclusion. The next moment is really quite dull by comparison with what has gone before, though it does have reach a passionate high in the middle. The piece's final movement opens broadly and features another fast mid-section before leading to a dramatic climax.
1952's Bishop Rock, a picture of the lighthouse that stands at the westernmost point of England, beautifully describes the sea at its most turbulent and peaceful.
The disc concludes with 1964's Suffolk Suite, written for the boys of Framlingham College to perform when royalty came to open their new concert hall. A fanfare opens its stately "Prelude; then "Oxford Ness" is described by a largely peaceful seascape. "Suffolk Morris" features a lively dance with a pastoral bridge, before a stirring march representing "Framlingham Castle" closes the piece.
All the music is performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Hickox and features Howard Shelley on piano. The booklet notes, in three languages, are provided by the Doreen Carwithen herself, who passed away in 2003.

From Costa Communications

March/April projects include "ATL," "Take the Lead," "Akeelah and the Bee"

(Los Angeles, CA) With three films due out in spring and several to be released throughout the year, Aaron Zigman is proving to be one of the busiest composers in Hollywood. His spring slate includes Warner Bros.'
"ATL," New Line's "Take the Lead" and Lions Gate's "Akeelah and the Bee."
Each score is distinct in its theme, purpose and instrumentation.

On March 31, Warner Bros. will release "ATL," the story of four teens coming of age in a working class Atlanta neighbourhood. Hip-hop music and roller-skating unify the group as they make tough life choices. Starring rapper TI and directed by music video director Chris Robinson, the film is loosely based on the life experiences of TLC's Tionne Watkins and hip-hop superproducer Dallas Austin. An urban score with beats and a Southern spiritual quality to the orchestra, the score fuses blues, electronic elements and pad imaging.

New Line releases "Take the Lead," starring Antonio Banderas and Alfre
Woodard, on April 7. Based on a true story, the film revolves around a professional dancer who volunteers to teach in a New York City public school. His classic method clashes with his students' hip-hop instincts, but he becomes their mentor when he helps them form a style of dance that incorporates ballroom style with street moves. Co-scored with hip hop producer and performer Swizz Beats, this hip hop score is mixed with tango and jazz to make it fresh, and features classical emotional moments.

On April 28, Lion's Gate will release "Akeelah and the Bee" starring Angela
Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. An inspirational drama told by writer/director Doug Atchison, the film tells the story of a precocious 11-year-old who defies her mother and enters several spelling contests. Tutored by her principal and some supportive adults in her community, she competes for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In a hybrid score, Zigman mixes traditional orchestration with melody and themes with electronic beats and organic dulcimer to create a variety of cues. Zigman also arranged strings for the song "Definition of Love," produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the soundtrack.

Zigman made a name for himself producing and arranging for artists such as
Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Nona Gaye, the Pointer Sisters and Christina Aguilera. Known for his command of rhythm and different styles, he developed his knack for melody into his current scoring career. His foray into feature film composing began when director Nick Cassavetes, who was familiar with Zigman's pop background and his orchestral works, offered him the opportunity to score "John Q," starring Denzel Washington. The two collaborated again shortly after on the critically acclaimed romantic film "The Notebook," starring Gena Rowlands and James Garner, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. Their most recent teaming, Sundance crowd pleaser "Alpha Dog," will be released later this year.

Among his other upcoming film releases are "The Wendell Baker Story," the directorial debut of Andrew Wilson and Luke Wilson, starring their brother
Owen Wilson, Eva Mendes and Eddie Griffin, "Flicka" with Alison Lohman and
Tim McGraw and "10th & Wolf" with Giovanni Ribisi, James Marsden and Dennis


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