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 Posted:   Sep 11, 2020 - 12:39 PM   
 By:   Stereozentrum   (Member)

Hello everyone,

even though I've been secretly reading this forum for years, I've only just registered and would like to start with a review of a very recently released compilation of quite obscure film music, even for a long-time film music fan like myself. "The Film Music of Mark Isaacs Vol. 1" is a 2-disk set released by Australian soundtrack label 1M1-Records in April 2020. It is a compilation of four nowadays more or less unknown cartoon scores from the 80s.

A short introduction to the composer, who is unfortunately rather unknown for most folks around here I'm afraid: Mark is both a trained jazz pianist as well a studied classical symphonist, and his concert works (including two symphonies) remarkably combine European compositional techniques of the late 19th century with subtle jazz elements, but there are also influences of New Music (especially free tonality, expressionism, etc.). For his relatively short excursion into the field of film music during the 80's and early 90's, however, Mark was mainly guided by classical golden age scores in the style of Korngold and Steiner. However, he has developed a refreshingly independent tonal language in which – despite the respective historical setting – a bit of jazz yglamour shines through... like some well-placed seventh chord or fanfares with swing-like ternary rhythms. Film music of this kind, although written children's films, is not something you find every day.

Now to the four individual suites compiled by 1M1:

A Tales of Two Cities: Mark's first film music ever is also his most avant-garde on this compilation. He uses a very large orchestra in all its timbres, including alternative playing techniques such as Col legno in the strings, pitch bending on the timpani, etc. Nevertheless, the music remains strongly influenced by leitmotifs, which helps attentive listening and gives the score in some parts even some Wagnerian moments. The passages for the courtly scenes, however, are more reminiscent of Elgar. Even though I do not want to understate the music in any way, this score is the least tangible of the four for me, personally. Perhaps this is also due to the rather dark/tragic setting of the Dickens story (Robespierre's reign of terror after 1798).

The Adventures of Robin Hood: The music for this 1985 Errol Flyy-inspired animation is clearly based in the swashbuckling genre and, if it comes to me, is together with Ivanhoe the strongest of the four suites. The entire suite is dominated by a heroic theme reminiscent of Korngold. In 22 minutes, this easily delivers everything you could ask for from a swashbuckling adventure score about castles, knights and sword fights. Also pleasant are the quieter passages, which utilize flutes, lyres and hand drums (in the recording probably rather acoustic guitars) to create a pseudo-authentic medieval market feeling.

Ivanhoe: Basically I like Ivanhoe as much as Robin Hood after listening to this score for the second time. Both suites glide wonderfully into each other. No wonder, since they share the same setting. wink This is most obvious in the track "Ivanhoe Meets Robin Hood", which quotes Robin's main motif from the previous score in a musically very interesting way. Hm, what could be the reason for this? razz For film music fanboys, the fanfare associated with King Richard with two quart jumps right at the beginning might sound a bit familiar, as it somehow creates a certain spaced-out feeling, like going on a Star Trek or something wink

Rob Roy: Strictly speaking, this last suite is probably the weakest of the compilation, but considering the brilliant music here, that doesn't mean anything at all! There's a much smaller orchestra, rather entertaining humorous mini-cues strung together and more or less clichéd cartoon-like orchestrations. But because of the Irish-Celtic influences (actually it should be Scottish, I think big grin) especially in the accompaniment the whole thing gets a lively folkloric drive and climbs up to a majestic final fanfare with "Rob Rob Pardoned". A worthy finale!

Conclusion: A very worthwhile album by former "part-time" film composer Mark Isaacs with great adventure-film music. Especially score enthusiasts, who like me have been "in business" for a while and urgently need new, previously unknown material, and who can hum all the main themes of the likes of Goldsmith, Williams or Horner in their sleep, should seize this opportunity. Even if you have to expect a delivery time of two to three months for orders from Australia, it's definitely worth the wait!

Best regards from Germany,

Dustin

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2020 - 8:21 AM   
 By:   wizardofoz   (Member)

I received my copy a week ago. It took two months to get here due to coronavirus but this double CD is stunning. The note by Jeff Bond is terrific. Beautiful booklet and presentation.

My favourite score is Tale of 2 Cities. The murder track is to die for. In fact the whole use of percussion is fantastic particularly tympani. I’ve made the theme from Mark Isaac’s Robin Hood my new ringtone replacing The Ten Commandments. Well, for this week. Next week I might change it back.

 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2020 - 9:20 AM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Thanks for the info.
Some links and/or a few clips would have been good to have.

 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2020 - 11:18 AM   
 By:   Blank_Adder   (Member)

Sure, good idea. Here are some excerpts of the four scores: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xLfkcH70ao

The above-mentioned Robin Theme begins at 04:05 by the way.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 24, 2020 - 8:01 AM   
 By:   wizardofoz   (Member)

Thanks for the info.
Some links and/or a few clips would have been good to have.


Basil Rathbone would have bought this CD and given it to Errol Flynn for a Christmas present.

My brother sent me a link to a review on Loudmouth??? who say

“A beautifully constructed compilation soundtrack album. Isaacs’ work is brilliant. Mark has accomplished a unique body of works with his orchestration aptitude and his compositional skill are truly epic with bold statements, reminding me of John Williams’ pounding and memorable adventuristic film scores.”
LOUDMOUTH MGAZINE

They say that and I say classic Hollywood film scores don’t get much better than this.

(And to you loudmouths who love the score to Tenet I salute you with my middle finger. To everyone else, why wasn’t this Mark Isaacs guy asked to score Tenet? Mr Christopher Nolan???)

 
 Posted:   Sep 24, 2020 - 11:55 AM   
 By:   Stereozentrum   (Member)

Glad you like it. At least there are still a few people out there who appreciate true orchestral craftsmanship. wink

 
 Posted:   Sep 24, 2020 - 12:01 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Listening now. I like the "Love Theme" a lot. Well done.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 25, 2020 - 7:34 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Any jazz piano on the disc?

 
 Posted:   Sep 25, 2020 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   Blank_Adder   (Member)

No, apart from a few ternary rhythms during the Ivanhoe fanfares and a few major sevenths here and there, there's nothing to be afraid of. razz

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 25, 2020 - 1:40 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

No, apart from a few ternary rhythms during the Ivanhoe fanfares and a few major sevenths here and there, there's nothing to be afraid of. razz

I'll wait for the jazz disc. Not into Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, or Puss in Boots.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 25, 2020 - 5:18 PM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)


I'll wait for the jazz disc. Not into Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, or Puss n Boots.


Cool story bro.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 25, 2020 - 5:27 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)


I'll wait for the jazz disc. Not into Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, or Puss in Boots.


Cool story bro.


Do you mean Puss in Boots?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 14, 2020 - 2:34 PM   
 By:   Mark Isaacs (film composer)   (Member)

Thank you for all the interest in this!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 14, 2020 - 2:41 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Thank you for all the interest in this!

Our pleasure! When is your jazz piano album coming out?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 14, 2020 - 5:13 PM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)



Our pleasure! When is your jazz piano album coming out?


What is wrong with you?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 14, 2020 - 5:18 PM   
 By:   Mark Isaacs (film composer)   (Member)

Thank you for all the interest in this!

Our pleasure! When is your jazz piano album coming out?


I don't have a new one in the works as yet, but have released many previously. I'm on all the major platforms.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 14, 2020 - 5:30 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Thank you for all the interest in this!

Our pleasure! When is your jazz piano album coming out?


I don't have a new one in the works as yet, but have released many previously. I'm on all the major platforms.


Thank you!

 
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