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Thursday, July 12, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Live Free or Die Hard + Italia a Mano Armata

Live Free or Die Hard (AKA Die Hard 4.0)
Music by Marco Beltrami
Varese Sarabande VSD 6824 (EU)
21 Tracks 63:17 mins

After a long gap, Bruce Willis returns to the role that first made him a big screen star in this the fourth Die Hard adventure, which many critics are hailing as the best since the original.
Michael Kamen was of course the regular composer for the series but, sadly, he is no longer with us and so Marco Beltrami steps into his shoes. In his score he pays homage to Kamen, whilst composing his own big orchestral score, a large slice of which is on this CD. Near enough every track is a mix of action and suspense, most of which have some very good moments, but there are only really two that excited me, those being "Copter Chase" and "The F-35," both are action-packed efforts, drawing on the late Jerry Goldsmith's style, something Beltrami, who studied under the great man, has done before in his recent efforts. It only makes one realise how much we miss the maestro. Still, this is a very capable effort by a composer who has largely been typecast in horror films over the years, and it's always interesting to hear something different. The concluding title track brings the album to a satisfying close, moving along purposefully and not unlike the kind of thing John Powell does for the Bourne series.

Italia a Mano Armata
Music by Franco Micalizzi
Beat Records CDCR 75 (Italy)
24 Tracks 49:03 mins

Following on the heels of Beat's release of Micalizzi's score for the crime thriller Napoli Violenta, which starred Maurizio Merli and John Saxon, comes another entry in the late '70s series, Italia a Mano Armata, with the same stars and characters. The composer here leaves the foksy elements of the first score behind to concentrate on a brass and synths approach, with a fine beat-driven main theme, with a repeating synth figure helping to drive it along. The theme is reprised throughout the 24 tracks, which present the score in film order, with the addition of a couple of bonus cues at the end. There is a good deal of equally brassy menace, and some tense and suspenseful moments along the way, as well as some romantic interludes, with "The Pleasant Visit" introducing a very nice guitar-lead theme. "The Child and the Sister," for piano and strings, is a powerful moment in the score. Tracks 11 to 13 present dance cues reminiscent of the time.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with a brief synopsis and interview with the composer in both Italian and English.


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