Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Sunday, June 18, 2006

CD REVIEW - True Grit + News from Costa Communications

True Grit
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Tadlow Music 002
22 Tracks 69:44 mins

Those of you, like me, who were a fan of the late, great "Duke" Wayne, and particularly his Western movies, have long held a disappointment that the score for his Oscar-winning performance in 1969's True Grit, has never been available in its proper form, save for a suite in a Wayne/Western compilation, conducted by its composer Elmer Bernstein. Sadly, although Bernstein did touch upon the recording of the score with album producer and conductor James Fitzpatrick, he died before any further plans could be made. Well, Fitzpatrick has now gone ahead with a recording of the complete score, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic, with the title song being given voice by Keith Ferreira. Better still, as is detailed in Fitzpatrick's notes on the recording, it was done in such a way that it comes out sounding like a proper film score recording, and not a concert performance. The result is a resounding triumph, which is an almost perfect representation of the score.
The album kicks off with a laid-back instrumental of the title song, before getting down to business with the dramatic "A Dastardly Deed." This is followed by the sadness of "A Stiff Job" and then the pompous bravado representing "Businesslike Mattie" This however soon gives way to the bittersweet "Papa's Things" with its touching violin solo. "Pony Mine" is both innocent and comical, with "Rooster and Le Boeuf" introducing Bernstein's bold, handsome and bouncy secondary theme, which then mixes with a travelling variation on the main theme in "Runaway Races Away."
"Chase/On Their Way" and "Where There is Smoke" continue to vary these two themes, with "The Big Trail" introducing another bouncy new theme. The menacing villains' theme is introduced in "Dugout Stakeout/Shots Galore!" with the secondary theme returning for "Ruffled Rooster," which becomes increasingly comical before ending in a pratfall as Wayne's character "Rooster Cogburn" falls drunkenly from his horse. "Bouncing into Danger/Over Bald Mountain" is by turns sad and menacing, with the big set piece where Rooster faces down the outlaws in "Meadow Fight" receiving a suitably heroic rendition of the secondary theme. Naturally, after the dramatics of "The Snake Pit/The Lift Out," "Sad Departure" is suitably emotional as the Glen Campbell character Le Boeuf dies. The terrific "The Pace That Kills/A Ride for Life" follows as Rooster rides Mattie's pony into the ground to deliver her the medical care for her snakebite. "A Warm Wrap-Up" starts out with the violin from "Papa's Things," before developing into a surprisingly tender version of the secondary theme, as Mattie offers Rooster a final resting place in her family plot, but this quickly reverts to its best, bouncy self for the uplifting climax, as Rooster and horse jump the fence and ride off into the sunset. A straightforward instrumental of the main theme closes the score and then Ferreira gives a pretty fair performance of the song, originally performed by Glen Campbell (to be honest, it's pretty singer-proof anyway).
As a bonus for Wayne/Western fans, Fitzpatrick leads the orchestra in six tracks, starting out with a concert suite of Bernstein's music for The Sons of Katie Elder, which sadly is the worse track on the album, being very laboured. The "Opening Sequence" from The Shootist fares better, starting out dramatically, before warming up for a big finish. The Comancheros receives another pompous promenade for McBain, before Bernstein's splendid main theme closes out the track. Cahill: United States Marshall goes through various emotions before ending in another fine theme. The suite from Big Jake presents much of the score material, including variations on yet another fine bouncy main theme. As a bonus, the disc concludes with the original instrumental arrangement of the True Grit theme, which was less pop-based and included harmonica as well as the familiar trumpet.
Accompanying the album is a 12-page booklet, featuring notes from Eve Bernstein and True Grit lyricist Don Black, as well as short essays, by David Wishart, on the film, its star, the composer and the music, including a cue-by-cue guide. All this, with the aforesaid notes by producer/conductor Fitzpatrick. The only thing sadly missing from this fine package is any artwork or stills from the film.
In the absence of an original recording of the True Grit, this is as good as it gets and, as this is a limited release of 3,000 copies, I would advise you to pick up your copy now.


TNT premiere July 12

(Los Angeles, CA) Emmy award-winning composer Jeff Beal returns to the small screen to score "Nightmares and Dreamscapes," a series of eight one-hour episodes adapted from Stephen King's short stories premiering July 12th on
TNT. Each individual feature stars a major performer, including William H. Macy, with whom Beal worked on the films "Door to Door" and "The Wool Cap," and William Hurt. Explains Beal, "My scores tend to be very specific to the material for which they were created, that is why 'Nightmares and
Dreamscapes' is such an exciting project for me. It gives me the opportunity to score eight very unique films."

For the eight separate compositions, Beal drew from a range of musical styles, including a jazz-infused score for "Umney's Last Case" and gothic rock for "The Fifth Quarter." In the dialogue-free premiere episode titled
"Battleground," Beal's tribal, orchestral score tells the story of a cold mechanical killer attacked by an army of toy soldiers after murdering the CEO of a toy company.

Through his wide range of composing styles, Beal has made his mark in both television and feature films. He has won Emmys for the first season theme song on "Monk" and the documentary "Peggy and Dorothy," and continues to successfully compose for film and TV. Beal's film projects that include a collaboration with Academy Award winning writer and director Jessica Yu on
"In The Realms of the Unreal," a film festival favourite; and a pulsing and innovative score for Ed Harris' "Pollock."

Jeff Beal's upcoming projects include the documentary "Protagonist," another collaboration with Yu that offers a glimpse into the lives of a former bank robber, a terrorist, and an evangelist; and two fictional feature films,
"The Situation" and "Where God Left His Shoes." "The Situation" is a groundbreaking film about a female journalist in present-day Iraq. "Where
God Left His Shoes," by up and coming writer/director Salvatore Stabile, follows a failed boxer as he tries to find an apartment for his homeless family on Christmas Eve. In addition, the second season of the HBO series
"Rome," which Beal also scores, shoots this summer.

His musical endeavours go beyond TV and film. Beal has composed many concert pieces, including a full orchestral score for Buster Keaton's silent film
"The General" and a four movement work titled "Things Unseen" performed by the world renowned Ying Quartet. As a multi-instrumentalist, he places a strong emphasis on performance and has released several solo CDs.


Post a Comment

<< Home