soundtracks

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With a whistle and a guitar, Ennio Morricone changed film and music history. Sergio Leone, a director with only one feature to his credit and a couple of gigs polishing up other pictures, called upon the composer to score his new-fangled Western, “A Fistful of Dollars,” loosely based on the Akira Kurosawa film “Yojimbo,” which itself was based on an American noir by Dashiell Hammett.

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Each weekend on Performance Saturday, I enjoy sharing new releases following the “concert” broadcast portion of the program, and this fall, I’ve been sharing excerpts from soundtracks to films clouded in mystery. None of the scores are purely orchestral, and the distorted and sometimes frightening soundscapes of these albums make for some interesting car trips! (Listening while driving is pretty much the only way I get to do any extended sampling nowadays.)

Tomorrow, two final works from composer James Horner will reach American ears: a concert piece being released on CD, and his score for the remake of the Western adventure The Magnificent Seven. The composer died a little more than a year ago in a plane crash, after creating more than 100 film scores over nearly 40 years.

Jason Bourne is back, though it might seem like he never went away. The character created by best-selling author Robert Ludlum has populated 12 novels, a made-for-TV movie, and now five big-screen adventures. In four of the five Bourne features, the music underlying the action has been the work of British composer John Powell.

Disney/Intrada

When composer James Horner died in a single-passenger plane crash in June, 2015, it was a sad end to an award-winning career of memorable music. As author Tim Greiving writes in his liner notes to the new Intrada Records release of “The Rocketeer,” it’s a sad bit of poetry that one of Horner’s most memorable themes perfectly evokes the feeling of flight that Horner so dearly loved.

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