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Thursday, November 26, 2009


The Red Canvas/Moving Images Suite
Music by James Peterson
MovieScore Media MMS09025
26 Tracks 65:27 mins

MovieScore Media have the nice habit of introducing me to new composers, the latest being James Peterson, whose score for the new fight movie from directors Kenneth Chamitoff and Adam Boster, The Red Canvas, has already won the award for "Best Feature Soundtrack" at the Action on Film International Film Festival, and I'm pleased to say that here we have a large orchestral score for a change, in the finest Hollywood film noir traditions.
The Red Canvas score features on the first 18 tracks of the album, the remaining 8 being given over to the same composer's Moving Images Suite, which is described as an "ode to film music."
But first, The Red Canvas, and, after a brooding opening the music of "Out of the Darkness builds into a huge dramatic piece of great power. The 60-piece string section really comes into its own in the emotional "Awaiting the News," followed by the initially powerful "Death and Resurrection I," before the strings re-enter, once more with emotion, continuing into "A Great Fighter," with a reprise of the emotional main theme from "Awaiting the News." "Jazz Cafe" introduces an urban interlude, complete with solo jazz trumpet, and string accompaniment, whilst "Grease Monkey Prelude" opens with flute over hushed strings, before taking a bigger, darker turn. This is followed by "Grease Monkey Brawl," an exciting and powerful piece of action writing, then another reprise of the main theme again in "Maria Cries; which continues in an epic Rozsa-like treatment in "Calling All Gladiators," and more noirish in "The Meeting."
"Death and Resurrection II" offers more noirish dramatics, before taking a sympathetic turn, with a mournful variation of the main theme playing out in "Bills and Tears." "Jungle Rumble" follows powerfully, all brass and percussion. "Prayer" sees the main theme rising to almost spiritual heights, continuing in increasingly dramatic mode in "A Not-So-Conjugal Visit." The final cue, "Ballet for Brawlers," is a tour-de-force of powerful action scoring, based largely on the opening theme, worth the price of the album alone.
I know some of my acquaintances are pretty unmoved by much of today's film scoring, considering it sub-standard to the music of so many Hollywood greats of yesteryear. Well, I would say to them, check this one out. They may well like what they hear.
The composer's Moving Images Suite begins with a flourish with the "Moving Images Fanfare," which is followed by the breezy "The Sorcerer," which reminds somewhat of the great Jerry Goldsmith's theme from "The First Great Train Robbery." "Americana" offers traditional brassy nobility, whilst the largely minor-keyed "A Quirky Machine" reminds a little of John Williams' "March of the Ewoks." "Moonlit Desert Chase" flows busily, but is rather a restrained affair for a chase, though it does have its moments. After all this business, it's nice to take a step back with "Pastorale," the lengthiest and loveliest track of the suite, which is followed by "Transylvania: 1955" which, after a low-key, eerie opening, erupts into menacing, Gothic-styled, action.
The suite concludes with the "Epilogue," which reprises the "Americana" theme, before ending in a flurry, with a variation on the opening fanfare.
An enjoyable concert piece then, much lighter fare than the score that accompanies it on this album, but which makes for a nice contrast. If his work is able to remain grounded in the past like this, I really look forward to hearing more from this composer in the future.
Got to for samples and details as to where to obtain the album on CD, or as a download, if you prefer. You can also find a trailer for The Red Canvas there.


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