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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Music by Rob Lane
MovieScore Media MMS-08021
18 Tracks 47:05 mins

After years of toiling away, producing excellent work for many TV productions, I'm so pleased that Rob Lane is finally getting his music out there, what with Varese Sarabande's release of his music for the mini-series John Adams and now this MovieScore Media release of music from the first three episodes of the BBC's re-imagining of the Merlin/King Arthur legends.
Whilst the series may play fast and loose with the legends, not least in its portrayal of Merlin as Arthur's young manservant and Guinevere as Morgana's handmaiden, it is nevertheless good fun, and one constant is Lane's excellent music, utilising the services of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and choir.
The album starts and ends with Lane's wonderfully adventurous main theme, enhanced by mystical choir, a melody that sticks in the brain with repeated hearing. "Arrival at Camelot" soon however turns downbeat with King Uther (Anthony Head) overseeing the would-be execution of a witch, having banished all forms of magic from his kingdom, forcing the newly arrived Merlin to hide his powers from all but the wise old court physician, played by a bewigged Richard Wilson.
"The Tournament Begins" is initiially filled with excitement and anticipation, but turns somewhat menacing with choir. More supernatural menace follows in "The Witch's Threat." Much lighter fare follows in "Hunith's Letter to Gaius," with awe-filled, almost heavenly choir and bells leading to a peaceful conclusion. Comical writing, which owes something to John Williams' "March of the Ewoks," accompanies Merlin's first meeting with Arthur, before descending into pure slapstick; the track concluding with the dark mysticism of "Lady Helen Possessed," which builds to a menacing crescendo. "Fighting in the Market" is a bouncy, fun piece of action writing, with a Celtic flavour; whilst "The Magic Shield" is a dark, menacing piece, with sinewy string writing, representing the snakes that magically erupt from said shield. "Arthur and the Knight Valiant" begins with nobility, as the title would suggest, but quickly transforms into dark action writing, as the knight and his enchanted shield take their toll of tournament victims, followed by more mystical intrigue.
"Merlin Lost" sees a sad, pianistic variation on the main theme; with more comical capers following in "To Morgana," as well as the lovely lady's airy theme, giving way to a dark ending. "The Burdens of Duty" is a weighty, almost tragic piece, leading into the purposeful "Breaking the Spell." More dark magic features in "Plague in the Water," as Michelle Ryan's banished witch pollutes Camelot's water supply; with the lengthy "Arthur's Final Battle" opening tragically, before first female and then male voice give forth mystically, as the music builds martially to a crescendo. The track continues, as the title suggests, in a flurry of exciting and decisive conflict, based on what's gone before, concluding in peaceful strings, as the monster is vanquished and the witch thwarted. A sweet and tender melody for "Guinevere" follows, leading into the menacing "Defeating the Afanc," composed by Rohan Stevenson, sometime collaborator with Lane, who has also written music for the series.
Soprano Emma Brain-Gabbott voices the initially lullaby-like, but increasingly powerful "The Witch's Aria;" the album concluding satisfyingly with choir leading into a fuller version of the main theme to close.
The disc's digipack presentation opens out to reveal brief introductory notes to the series, a mini-biography of the composer, together with his notes on the music presented.
If you want to spend a fun, undemanding 45 minutes you could do worse than check out the series on BBC One each Saturday and, in the meantime, go out and grab yourself a copy of this fine CD, or download it from Maybe if enough copies sell, MovieScore Media can be persuaded to release more music from the series, and perhaps even consider revisiting some of the composer's earlier work, championing, as they regularly do, the work of less high profile composers, much to our benefit. Check out their site and be impressed by the range of composers whose work is available for download there.

Different Voices
Music by Debbie Wiseman
Naxos 8.572022
18 Tracks 52:11 mins

Whilst Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is a wonderful piece, Ian Maclay, General Manager of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, thought it might be time for a new piece, and suggested as much to Debbie Wiseman. Of course, Debbie has done much work to educate young people musically over the years, and relished the challenge of coming up with a new orchestral work, enlisting the help of the legendary Don Black, who quickly came up with a concept, as well as the lyrics for the "Different Voices" song, featured throughout. Writer Andrew Bremner then took the concept and developed it into the full narrative.
The finished piece was premiered, and recorded for this album, at London's Cadogan Hall in April of last year, with Debbie Wiseman conducting the Royal Philharmonic and Stephen Fry as narrator. Another of Debbie's regular collaborators, Hayley Westenra sang the song.
The story is about as far removed from reality as can be, with a little girl and her friends preventing builders from developing the local park, something that we all know is impossible to achieve in this day and age, as money talks, and the developers always win, despite all reasonable objections by the locals; at least in my experience, living in a town that is almost one large building site these days. Never mind, we can dream!
Fry first introduces us to "Ellie's Theme," played by the flute, with woodwinds then adding their support; the rest of the orchestra joining to give the theme a gay propulsiveness. Next comes "Jo's Theme," played by violin, then joined by the rest of the strings, another propulsive piece.
Ellie's father happens to be the mayor of the town and his theme is played rather importantly by the brass section, with percussive support. By complete contrast, harp takes the lead on "Ellie's Mother, an elegant, classically-styled piece. Ellie's kindly "Nanny Talia" is portrayed by piano and strings, another quite classical sounding piece, and somewhat bittersweet.
"The Story Begins..." with track six and from then on Wiseman interweaves all the above themes, joined by the busy, percussive theme for "The Builders," as the characters interact throughout the turbulent journey to its satisfying conclusion, with plenty of thrills, spills and intrigue along the way.
Westenra first introduces the song "Different Voices" in track 7, where Ellie is left alone by her busy parents, resurfacing again in "Pleading with the Developer" and closing the piece in fine style, following Fry's final narration.
The accompanying booklet, illustrated with scenes from the story by Robin Shaw, features biographies of the composer, Fry, Westenra and the orchestra, together with lyrics to the song and Debbie's introductory notes.
An enchanting piece, filled with memorable tunes, with an easy narrative that even the youngest children should find captivating; I see no reason why, in time, it shouldn't become as well loved as the Britten work.

From CineMedia:





(November 7, 2008 -- Burbank, CA)- Walt Disney Records will release the original soundtrack for Walt Disney Pictures’ animated comedy adventure BOLT on November 18, 2008. The recording features score written by Grammy®-nominated composer John Powell (Happy Feet, Shrek) and two original songs: “I Thought I Lost You” performed by the film’s stars Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, and “Barking at the Moon” by Jenny Lewis.

Composer John Powell has written music for comedies (Hancock, Pluto Nash, Alfie, Mr 3000) and action films (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, X-Men: The Last Stand, Face/Off and the Bourne film trilogy). Some of his most beloved work has been for animated films (Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda, Ice Age: The Meltdown). The British born Powell began originally trained as a violinist. In 1995 he founded a London based commercial music house before moving to the United States two years later. He is one of the best known former members of the Remote Control (formerly Media Ventures) team of composers, where he first teamed with Harry Gregson-Williams, his collaborator on several scores (Antz, Chicken Run, Shrek).

Currently, Miley Cyrus is in production on her third season of her hit TV series Hannah Montana. The special edition of her #1 album Breakout will also be released November 18. In the spring of 2009, Miley will release a book sharing her inspiring story, spanning from her Southern roots in Tennessee to the excitement of her record-setting triumphs in TV, music and film. Her feature film HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE is scheduled for release on April 10, 2009.

The golden-voiced singer songwriter front woman, Jenny Lewis co-founded the highly acclaimed Los Angeles based band Rilo Kiley, with whom she has released 4 albums. Her first solo album “Rabbit Fur Coat” was released in 2006, followed by “Acid Tongue” which was released earlier this year.

For super-dog BOLT (voice of JOHN TRAVOLTA), every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue—at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet—a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (voice of MILEY CYRUS). Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions—a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (voice of SUSIE ESSMAN) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voice of MARK WALTON) —Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero. Directed by Disney veterans Chris Williams and Byron Howard, BOLT is a hilarious, fun-filled, action-packed animated comedy adventure in Disney Digital 3-D.

BOLT opens in theaters on November 21, 2008. The BOLT Original Soundtrack will be in stores on November 18, 2008.


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