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The Greatest Cinema Choral Classics

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Album Review

Reynold da Silva's Silva Screen Records specializes in re-recordings of the scores of films, usually using the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and, when choral parts are called for, Britain's Crouch End Festival Chorus. Silva Screen then packages and repackages the results in a variety of forms, including collections organized by composer or by some theme. Da Silva's concept for this particular compilation is simple: he has singled out a group of choral pieces, drawn from music written for or used in a wide range of films from Alfred Newman and Ken Darby's "Prelude" to How the West Was Won (1962) to Richard Harvey's "Kyrie for the Magdelene" from The Da Vinci Code (2006). At least from the selections here, it seems that when film composers write for choruses, for the most part they have one of two ideas in mind. Adapting their music from traditional choral styles, they are usually going for something inspiring, if not downright quasi-religious, in tone, or they are trying to scare the bejesus out of moviegoers. In the former category, a good example is Ennio Morricone's "On Earth as It Is in Heaven" from The Mission (1986), a film that, after all, concerns Jesuit missionaries. Perhaps the best example here of the latter is Jerry Goldsmith's "Suite" from The Omen (1976), for which annotator James Fitzpatrick thoughtfully prints a few lyrics, such as "Hail the anti-Christ, Hail Satan." (Why haven't those Christian fundamentalists who harried Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest ever gone after Goldsmith?) There are, however, exceptions to these generalizations. John Williams' setting for the poem "Dry Your Tears Afrika" from Amistad (1997) sounds influenced by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and is warmer and more intimate than most of what is found on the album. And Danny Elfman does some characteristically off-beat and imaginative things with "Main Title & Ice Dance" from Edward Scissorhands (1990). But for the most part, the movie view of choirs, as represented here, seems to be that they exist to ooh and ahh or intone something that sounds like Latin to call down the wrath or the glory of God (or his counterpart) on the poor movie characters.

Biography

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Crouch End Festival Chorus first came together in the mid-'80s, founded by David Temple and John Gregson (the pair had both sung as tenors in the London Philharmonic Choir). By the next decade, the choir had become one of England's leading large choirs, as they built a wide ranging repertoire that incorporated selections from standard classics to less familiar 20th century works (resulting in a total of four Performing Right Society Enterprise Awards the CEFC's innovative programming of contemporary...
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