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Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Mellowdrama Records; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
ENDURING LOVE Excellent,
intelligent dramatic score A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Excellent, intelligent dramatic score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Herrmannesque adj. Evoking the music of composer Bernard Herrmann, particularly in relation to film scores.
The above does not appear in my leather-bound Oxford English Dictionary; unsurprisingly, it is similarly notable by its absence from my smaller, Collins Concise Dictionary. However, should it ever be added, then it would be little surprise if the lexicographers decided to include the music from Enduring Love by Jeremy Sams as an example. Numerous film scores over the years have been described as "Herrmannesque" but I doubt that any can have been quite such an exquisite tribute to the late, great film composer as this. Sams himself, in his liner notes, says "I won't bother name-checking the composers whose influence is all over this score. Anyone with half an ear can hear what I have been listening to." Later, Glen Aitken says that the film's temp-track "was laced with works from such venerable British composers as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten." The presence of Vaughan Williams ("The Lark Ascending" in particular) is obvious. But it's the ghost of one composer above all others who seems to be filling this music with his presence, and it's Herrmann.
The film is an adaptation of Ian McEwan's popular novel, directed by Roger Michell, whose eclectic list of film credits includes the Hugh Grant chick flick Notting Hill and the Ben Affleck / Samuel L. Jackson actioner Changing Lanes. Sams is a multi-faceted composer (and director!) but probably best-known in theatrical circles rather than film ones; but this background perhaps made him the perfect choice for this slightly stagey film, which boasts fine performances from Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton and "James Blond" himself, Daniel Craig. The music is a beautifully-wrought portrait of obsession, brimming with emotion; as per Michell's instructions, it never directly commentates on the obsession, but it certainly evokes and indeed reflects it.
Most notable are the two passacaglias, "Working It Out" and "Things Fall Apart", with spectacular emotional fireworks brought on by careful orchestration and fine performance, rather than every section of the orchestra blasting music out as loudly as possible, which is how lesser composers may have approached it. If anything, think of Psycho. The "Vaughan Williams sections", if you will, come in the gorgeous opening "Balloon Music" and later "Pastorale", with the beautiful violin solo being a sumptuous musical creation. Perhaps the most compelling dramatic section is "A Drunken Conversation with Myself" (perhaps this is where Britten comes in!) - a real tour-de-force. In the lengthy "Finale", Sams finally releases all of the built-up tension with a gloriously expressive piece. Mellowdrama Records continues to dazzle with one excellent release after another, usually by less well-known composers for less well-known films. Each of their releases so far has been worthwile, and Enduring Love continues the trend. One can only hope that Sams chooses to work more frequently in film in the future.