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  • last_embraceComposed by Miklós Rózsa
  • Intrada Special Collection Vol 104 / 2009 / 58:31

Like that other towering giant of film music’s golden age, Miklós Rózsa enjoyed a remarkable late surge in popularity as hungry young directors sought out musical reminders of the films they had enjoyed as youngsters – he scored more films in the five years following 1977’s Providence than he had in the previous fifteen years. One of those directors was Jonathan Demme (who of course would – much later – wow the world with The Silence of the Lambs) and he managed to secure the services of the most renowned composer of film noir for his own “tribute” to that genre, Last Embrace, with Roy Scheider as a man who thinks everyone’s out to get him.  In an era when the trend towards useless synth-pop scores was just beginning, how wonderful to think there was a 30-year-old director out there who wanted Miklós Rózsa to score his film.

In her liner notes, Julie Kirgo describes the score as “pure Rózsa” – and I can’t think of any better way of either describing it or indeed praising it.  The composer offers a score very much in the template of those he wrote thirty years earlier, with a deliciously dark main theme written in his trademark style (could one ever mistake any piece of music written by this composer for the work of someone else?) – and it’s the darker sections of the score which are the dominant feature, with some pulse-pounding action music and brilliant suspense writing.  One of the composer’s gifts was his ability to make beauty appear as if from nowhere – and notable here is the ravishing, gorgeous love theme which emerges unexpectedly from the main theme, the violin solos written and performed to perfection.  I wouldn’t put this at the top of the tree like two of the scores which surround it in this period of his career – Providence and Time After Time – but it’s certainly on the branch just below.  This Intrada CD marks the first time the original tracks have been released (there was previously a re-recording available on LP and in the Varese Sarabande CD Club in the early 1990s) and it’s a fine package; and not only do I get a mention in the liner notes, I’m described as being perspicacious.  A wonderful release all round!  ****

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