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Sebastian
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 2013 / 77m

The sixties were swinging in full force when Sebastian came along, an espionage romance set amongst all the cool goings on in London at the time. The outstanding cast includes Dirk Bogarde, Susannah York and John Gielgud and the film received good reviews, though it’s very rarely seen today.  It’s set in Britain and directed by a Brit, and one might have expected John Barry to be the natural choice of composer, but producer Herbert Brodkin had worked with Jerry Goldsmith a number of times very early in the composer’s career and sought him out.  Goldsmith’s spy credentials were already well-established by then, having already scored The Prize, The Man from UNCLE and the Flint movies.  The sound of Sebastian is from that same world, though it’s more romantic, more engrained in the pop music of the time.

There’s a lovely, romantic main theme, a very pleasant vocal ballad penned by Goldsmith and Hal Shaper (“Comes the Night”), some decent suspense/action (I love “Carol’s Apartment” and “The Trip”).  The composer took inspiration from the mathematical, code-breaking theme to write large portions of the score with a distinct, baroque style.  It’s all very pleasant.  The very short original LP is reproduced at the start of the album in excellent stereo (a shade under 25 minutes long) and it also includes a non-Goldsmith song and a piece of electronic source music by Tristam Cary.  The album is padded out with the complete 34-minute Goldsmith score, this time in mono and seemingly largely consisting of complete versions of shorter cues that were combined together for the original album.  It’s nowhere near such a satisfying listening experience, with a large number of very short variations on the main theme following each other.  Finally, there’s a complete set of Cary’s electronic material, which runs for 18 minutes, 18 minutes you’ll never get back.  Still, if you finish after track 10 then you’ll have heard a well-produced, satisfying programme that’s a minor work by Goldsmith’s standards and is very much a product of its time, but is perfectly pleasant and diverting.

Rating: ***

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  1. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. on Sunday 3 November, 2013 at 14:48

    The catchy main theme, augmented by marvellous percussion,is reason enough to dote on this score. I bought a copy (in Stereo) from HARKIT RECORDS about 3 years ago > the Goldsmith content paralleled the LP’s – but Tristam Carey’s “CODE” was extended to approx 18 minutes. In his liner notes, RANDALL D. LARSON explained that Cary, after providing a sonic interpretation of the satellite’s radio signals, expected to score the entire movie! Thank the gods the director insisted on GOLDSMITH…and I can’t blame our JERRY (during an online interview) for “dismissing the significance of Cary’s work with a wave of his hand”. 45 years since SEBASTIAN’s 1968 premiere, Cary’s electronic sounds are dated & naive in spite of electronic music being an already established genré way before the ’60s. Larson’s notes refers to OUR MAN FLINT’s “brassy, fast-paced jazz-rock” style finding a similarity in the SEBASTIAN score. It may not rank among GOLDSMITH’s masterpieces, but its liveliness imparts an energy of joie de vivre that infuses everything with that elusive joy.