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Sunday, February 10, 2008


The Great Debaters
Music by James Newton Howard & Peter Golub
Varese Sarabande VSD-6869 (EU)
24 Tracks 57:03 mins

The busy James Newton Howard this time collaborates with Peter Golub, largely known for his theatre, ballet and concert music, on the score to this Denzel Washington/Forest Whitaker starrer, which is based on the true story of a college professor, who, in 1935, founds and inspires a debating team that go on to challenge mighty Harvard in the national championships; coming up with an Americana-styled accompaniment, featuring piano and orchestra, with acoustic guitar contributing, helping to provide regional colouring to this Texas-set tale.
The score has quite a few pleasant, upbeat and inspirational moments, with some typically noble horn playing, but there are quieter, more poignant passages, allowing woodwinds and piano to shine, as well as darker, more dramatic cues, like the doom-laden plodding of "Give Me The Check," the building menace of "Tolson Arrested" and "Lynching," and the powerful "Union Meeting." The debates themselves tend to start out tense and expectant, but end triumphantly when appropriate. "And The Winner Is...," as one would expect, brings proceedings to a satisfying close.

John Frizzell Scores Henry Poole Is Here

You may remember I recently ran a press release from Costa Communications on this John Frizzell score for the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Henry Poole Is Here, which stars Luke Wilson as a dying man, determined to spend his remaining days in seclusion, but who instead goes through a miracle transformation. Frizzell's score reflects this, utilising delicate piano and strings, along with subtle electronics and less conventional instruments like erhu and duduk, to add a suitably mystical quality at times, as well as underlying the sadder and more optimistic moments in the score. Working from a 21-minute promotional recording, kindly furnished by Costa Communications, I know not whether the score is longer; nor do I know as yet if a commercial recording will be made available. MGM releases the film on April 4th.


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