Film Music Review
The Sammy awards

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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Music composed by Jeremy Sams

14 Tracks (Playing Time = 40:45)

Music orchestrated and conducted by Christopher Austin. Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Music recorded at Angel Recording Studios. Edited by Emily Rogers. Engineered by Gary Thomas. and mixed at Air Studios by Geoff Foster.

Melowdrama Records MEL 108

Rating: ****


Roger Michell’s ENDURING LOVE is a 2004 film festival favorite based on the novel by Ian McEwan. It had a very limited release in late 2004 before being released in Europe and reappearing at Brazilian festivals last year. Its appeal will be for fans of the new Bond, Daniel Craig, but it also features Rhys Ifans (famous for his turn in NOTTING HILL) and Samantha Morton. Film music fans though will find here an intriguing musical soundscape unlike much of what currently accompanies film images. ENDURING LOVE turns out to be a score that feels like a concert piece that somehow managed to fit a screen story.

Jeremy Sams will be a new name to some here in the states. He has had a long career in English theater and is perhaps best known as the adapter of the musical version of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. He has worked in British television providing the award winning score to an adaptation of Jane Austin’s Persuasion, also directed by Roger Michell. He worked with Michell on 1993’s THE MOTHER as well. The score received the Ivor Novello Award for “Best Original Film Score” in 2004.

The score is an interesting mix of lush orchestrations and Impressionistic sounds that owes a lot to Ravel and, in its more intensely emotional moments, Messiaen. “Balloon Music” opens the disc with a solo violin line that provides a lyrical counterpoint to Sams’ three-chord harmonic progression. Inside of that static sound there is still a lot of emotional underpinning. The writing has a clarity that allows for the various instrumental lines to flow in and through the harmonic idea which is displayed fascinatingly in a track labeled “Passacaglia—Working It Out,” and later in another emotionally devastating second passacaglia track subtitled “Things Fall Apart.” The music in both instances provides another window on Sams’ variation technique within an otherwise atmospheric orchestral score. The music is in one sense an extended chaconne (a musical form which features a series of variations on a constantly repeated harmonic pattern). Sams’ approach is to use diatonic harmonies that have no strong harmonic pull on their own but combined and repeated begin to work their own emotional attachment. The solo violin line helps to pull the score together, providing an aural connection as the music flows by from one track to the next. That lyrical line is what becomes a twelve-note extension in the passacaglia that insinuates a creepier but unstoppable chain of events. The pacing of the disc allows for the building and releasing of musical tension that is given a chance to flow into an extended finale that wraps up the score.

The score is just being released by the independent British label Melowdrama which focuses on acclaimed scores. It features an amazingly well done booklet with notes by the composer and an abundance of information, for a new score, regarding the plot and the approach taken to bring the novel to life. The music is served well by a fascinating performance featuring members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

This score will be one that you can return to musically to discover its many intricacies, or simply to enjoy the music on its own terms.

--Steven A. Kennedy, 17 March 2006

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