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Monday, December 04, 2006


A double helping today as I am unlikely to be able to post anything tomorrow, but before we get to the CD review, you've probably heard, but in case you haven't, Shirley Walker sadly passed away last Wednesday from a brain aneurysm. She was just 61.
A California native, born in Napa, on 10th April 1945, Walker first came to our attention working for Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios and wrote additional music for The Black Stallion, as well as playing keyboards on Apocalypse Now. She then went on to assist Danny Elfman in a number of his early assignments, and conducted such as Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Dick Tracy. She also took up the baton for Hans Zimmer on Black Rain, Days of Thunder and Backdraft.
As a composer, her first solo work of any note was Memoirs of an Invisible Man and she has since written the music for films mainly in the horror/sci-fi/thriller genres, such as Willard, Turbulence and the Final Destination films. She also worked extensively in TV, most notably on the animated Batman and Superman adventures, winning an Emmy for the feature-length Batman Beyond.but also on Spawn and Space: Above and Beyond.
Though she never quite made it as an A-list composer, Shirley Walker's place in film music history is assured as one of the first of the contemporary wave of female composers whose work now graces our screens.

Music by Carl Davis
Naxos 8.557898-99 (U.K.)
Disc 1 - 27 Tracks 50:18 mins Disc 2 - 36 Tracks 75:51 mins

The first thing to be said is this is not a film score, but it is written by film and TV composer Carl Davis and can be likened to any number of gargantuan scores he has written for silent movie revivals.
The ballet Aladdin was commissioned by Scottish Ballet, and was premiered at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival. This recording was made with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur during October last year and features the complete score on two discs.
Davis' music is influenced by Persian, Moroccan and Chinese music, with the latter style being particularly well represented in such cues as "Bathhouse March," a grand processional, as well as "Lion Dance"and "Dragon Dance." Aladdin is given a largely high spirited accompaniment and there is a gorgeous love theme for his love for the princess. Dark and ominous chords naturally represent the villain of the piece, and the whole thing is bonded together by the majestic "Lamp Theme," which is versatile enough to be played in darker variations as well as more triumphant mode. Along the way we have a piece for gypsy violin, a grand waltz, some almost Western-styled hoe-downish moments and some lively action pieces.
At 86 minutes-plus, you may not want to listen to the piece in one sitting, but I have to say that there is seldom a dull moment in what can easily be appreciated as a film, rather than a ballet, score.
The accompanying booklet features a cue-by-cue guide to the music by its composer, together with profiles of Davis and the Orchestra. A very welcome addition indeed to the Carl Davis recorded music catalogue.


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