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Friday, February 27, 2009


Max and Helen/The Oasis
Music by Christopher young
BSX Records BSXCD 8847 (US)
16 Tracks 49:35 mins

BSX Records brings together two Christopher Young scores previously available on Bay Cities and Edel records respectively.
The 1990 TV production Max and Helen tells of one case that Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal didn't follow through on, out of respect for the identities of damaged couple Max and Helen, though he did write a book of the same name in order to document their story.
The Max and Helen score takes up the first eight tracks on the CD. The couple's favourite piece, Chopin's Piano Etude No. 3 in E features strongly in Young's score, excerpted in a number of tracks; but it gets underway with the haunting wordless vocals of "In Memory." The uncredited soprano also features in "Stories Must Be Told," which also features solo horn and cello parts; as counterpoint to the Chopin in "Heart Lost;" in "Zalesie," accompanying a fateful tolling bell, before the cue takes on a decidedly oppressive electronic feel; and taking the lead on another variation of the Chopin in "Must Continue;" before closing the score in more hopeful mode in the final "Forgiveness of Sins." A jaunty violin-lead "old country" tune provides an undemanding interlude in "Zioczow Square."
For those of you more used to hearing the composer in horror/thriller mode, this intimate and moving little score will be quite a surprising departure.
Back when he began taking his tentative first steps into the business of film composing, Young was often forced to write in the style of others, particularly evident in his early work is the distinctive voice of Jerry Goldsmith. For his fourth film however, The Oasis, and also his first straight drama, a study of nine air crash survivors and their struggle to survive in the desert, Young had very limited resources, consisting of a small string group, flute, harps and keyboard on the one hand, but also primitive sounding percussion on the other, featuring all manner of elements, like log drums, metal oil drums, conch shells, snake charm rattles etc. The score makes up the remainder of the album and the first two tracks have something of a questing nature to them. These are followed by the lengthy "Devil's Food," which actually runs for nearly 9 minutes, as opposed to the 2 minutes 18, indicated in the play list, and is the first to make extensive use of the aforementioned percussion, providing a threatening, eerie sound scape. "The Heaven Tree" continues with an almost Native American feel, including a plaintive flute solo. The tense "Funeral Mountain follows, and then more eerie, atonal sounds in "Garlock." "The Water Web" is a duet for unaccompanied flutes; with "Rituals" concluding the score in percussive fashion, with much use of drumming. Apparently, there were problems with the recording of much of the more lyrical parts of the score, which is why only about half of the score is presented here, which is a great pity.
The composer adds his comments to the accompanying notes on the films and his scores.
This is a limited edition release of just 1000 units, so best get along to and order your copy now.


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