Fans of Marco Beltrami’s early orchestral scores are in for a treat! Our next release is his sizzling score for The Faculty, a horror/sci-fi outing from 1998. The action takes place within a high school setting and Marco’s music packs fireworks! 90 minutes of music to keep your pulse racing.
Two weeks ago, Maestro William Stromberg stayed at my place for a few days. Bernard Herrmann music filled the air. We did some mixing from the 49-track digital sessions recorded by our dear friend Mike Ross-Trevor for The Man Who Knew Too Much and On Dangerous Ground. The album will be coming your way soon. Anyway, Bill was a most gracious guest, warm and personable, with oodles of stuff we could talk about. Favorite composers, favorite scores, albums we grew up with, our common interest in symphonic band music, orchestrating, our families, whatever. We got all of our work completed and even managed to watch a couple of movies. Something old, something more recent: Signs, where Bill got to discover one of James Newton Howard’s greatest works, and Mildred Pierce, so I could discover an unfamiliar Max Steiner score. As an aside, I’m not a huge Joan Crawford fan, but she was a sensation in this 1945 melodrama with shades of noir. The Oscar she won for her performance was well-deserved. An extra treat: I am a fan of Michael Curtiz and enjoy catching every Warner Bros. movie he directed. A lot of genuine classics are his. And, golly, you’ve got all those magnificent Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Max Steiner scores to go with them!
Coming up for this Tuesday, February 7th, is our greatly expanded release of Alan Silvestri’s 1991 thriller score, Shattered, from MGM. It’s in time for Valentine’s Day aficionados who like mystery and murder mixed in with their romance! Updating our latest two scores just re-recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow, conductor William Stromberg and I are working together on assembling everything as I write. Mike Ross-Trevor’s dynamic, crisp recording really brings Bernard Herrmann’s magnificent music to light and before too long listeners will be able to enjoy both Herrmann’s action-oriented score for On Dangerous Ground and his fabulous suspense score for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in all their musical magnificence. The latter even features several cues not used in the film and they are being heard here for the first time. This should be a pretty impressive release! And with important soundtracks by that popular triumvirate of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and James Homer plus important work by Danny Elfman, John Barry, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, Marco Beltrami and several others all in production, we have a really busy pipeline ahead, one of the most exciting that I can recall!
By the way, I do take breaks between all of this producing to enjoy the cool releases from fellow soundtrack labels such as the ever-busy La-La Land and Quartet. Here I give a shout-out to a few titles that are occupying my free time: The Magnificent Seven Collection offers four CDs premiering (at last!) all of the first film’s legendary score, plus albums for the three sequels, thanks to Quartet, Chaplin by John Barry in which La-La Land offers all of Barry’s rich and masterful score for Richard Attenborough’s 1992 film and the powerhouse score John Williams wrote for Steven Spielberg’s epic Amistad, another terrific expanded release from La-La Land. Also getting extra playtime for me right now is the newly-remastered release of Mimic, by Marco Beltrami, one of my all-time favorites from this prolific composer. Nods to Varese Sarabande for bringing this one out. What a fabulous time to be a soundtrack fan!
Success! We’re back from Glasgow! And I’m already at work with the session masters, helmed by Mike Ross-Trevor, the extraordinary engineer we’ve had on our Excalibur team dating all the way back to our 1986 re-recording of Jerry Goldsmith’s Islands In The Stream, when we were still in our infancy. We had not yet given the Excalibur brand to our re-recordings, mainly because we had no idea that the series - or even our label - would ever survive. But it did! And now we have our new recordings of Bernard Herrmann’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and On Dangerous Ground “in the can” and ready for assembly. Some 90 players of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra brought these two truly classic Herrmann film scores to life, both under the peerless direction of William T. Stromberg. Mike Ross was also with us when we did Ivanhoe and Julius Caesar in London. And in particular, he gave us that crisp, clean sound for Jason And The Argonauts, our first Herrmann release, under the baton of our dear friend Bruce Broughton. So it be that we again went for the crisp and detailed sound that Herrmann’s music begs for… and we got it! The “Prologue” from The Man Who Knew Too Much is a powerhouse piece, led by Nathan Van Cleave’s “VistaVision” logo. And the action music for On Dangerous Ground is legendary amongst Herrmann aficionados, understandable given the virtuoso writing for the massive French horn section. Balance this with the haunting viola d’amore solos that weave in and out of the score and you get the textbook definition of a classic!
Much more recent, by some three decades, is John Beal’s also-powerful orchestral score for the Universal horror film The Funhouse, directed by Tobe Hooper in 1981, just before Hooper tackled Poltergeist. It’s a genuinely scary picture and Beal delivered the goods in grand style. The complete score goes on sale Tuesday, January 24. The one sheet entices: Pay To Get In, Pray To Get Out. But remember it’s only a movie, with a sensational score to go with it!
It’s really exciting to be only days away from newly recording two incredible Bernard Herrmann film scores from the fifties, On Dangerous Ground which has never been recorded in stereo and, for myself, of particular interest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, which has simply never been released in any format. We have assembled a very large number of players, expanding the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and again have William T. Stromberg on the podium. I have been studying Herrmann’s complete printed scores for a spell now and am downright anxious to hear all these notes come to life. Our recording engineer on all of this is going to be our friend Mike Ross-Trevor, veteran of countless Jerry Goldsmith scores and happily several of our previous Excalibur releases, including Ivanhoe, Julius Caesar and Jason And The Argonauts. With this team, I’m confident we’ll be making some truly exciting music next week. It may seem like a small tidbit but we’re even recording the VistaVision logo by Nathan Van Cleave that opens the Hitchcock score. Now there’s an under-represented composer who deserves his day. Maybe these few seconds will help move the needle!
And worthy of attention as well is Jay Chattaway’s expanded release of Silver Bullet, showing the score to be much more varied, exciting and cohesive than previous releases suggested. This newly remastered CD is yours to order starting on Tuesday.
With my first breather during a whirlwind vacation week in Colorado, I’ve experienced events both miraculous and the opposite. I’m trapped in the sub-zero temperatures that have befallen these parts and they create challenges for us Californians for sure. From the way I see other people skidding around the icy snow-covered roadways, this weather creates challenges for the locals as well. Miracles: My daughter Veronika made me a grandfather on December 20. Her wonderful fireman husband Matt helped. Amelia is all those cute things a three-day old baby girl can be… and more. I run out of words here. Miracles are like that. In another miracle, one not distant in type, my other daughter Regina also created life. Well, sort of. Intrada clientele have known Regina for years as our production manager, helping coordinate things in the background while simultaneously working as a first responder. Starting with her EMT training and ambulance services through dispatching of same, she now operates with the 911 emergency services for Denver Health. In that capacity, she knew exactly what to do the other day with complete calm and confidence during a life-threatening crisis that resulted in her actually saving a life. Yep, as in for real. This is not just her dad’s proud exaggerating, either. On December 22, the city of Denver celebrated Regina’s complete mastery of their EMD protocols during a recent crisis by presenting her with a distinguished life-saver award, given out in front of her peers. It puts producing soundtrack albums in perspective. Oh, yeah, the opposite: Arriving in time for these miraculous events, I promptly ended up in the ER with the flu. I rarely get sick. It sucks. So I had to keep my distance with new Amelia for a couple of days. Regina’s medical skill didn’t help, either. Gee, I wonder if Amelia will grow up with a passion for soundtracks like the rest of the family. Maybe we’ll start her off with the complete Conan The Barbarian and ease her into life with something quiet and lyrical.
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