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    The Goldsmith Flame

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    What the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray discs of Lilies of the Field (1963), Fate Is the Hunter (1964), The Detective (1968), Under Fire (1983), The Russia House (1990) and The Vanishing (1993) have in common is that they are infused with the melodic beauty and versatility provided by legendary Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2014), born 88 years ago today, and highlighted on Isolated Tracks for fans of film music to study and savor. Consider the stunning variety of subject matter on offer here: a homespun fable of displaced outsiders banding together for a common purpose in a small desert community; a tense and still timely study of the balance of fallibility between human professionalism and technological perfection in the wake of a tragic disaster; a crime procedural that probes the darkness behind police corruption, homophobic reactionism and bureaucratic brutality; the journalistic pursuit of truth in a war-torn land blighted by the opposing forces of jingoistic government propaganda and the needs of a people fighting for freedom from dictatorial rule; geopolitical gamesmanship between superpowers with an especially tender and unexpected romance at its center; and a cruelly perverse test of wills between two men, one at the edge of sanity and the other gone wildly beyond. Imagine illuminating all that in music, sinuously orchestrated with a veteran maestro’s time-seasoned ear for mood, emotion and instrumental innovation, and you have a key component that seals the deal as much as the work of the actors, directors and craftspeople. Winner of an Academy Award® (out of a career total 18 nominations), five Emmys® and 12 BMI Film & TV Awards, Goldsmith’s work has captivated moviemakers and lovers throughout his 50-year composing career and beyond. To get a deeper insight into the man and his work, consider listening to the Composer Tribute Audio Commentary on Under Fire, wherein the film’s Music Mixer/Producer Bruce Botnick and Music Editor Kenny Hall join film historians Jeff Bond, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman to analyze what Film Score Monthly considered a “masterful score [that] combines several seemingly disparate elements: full orchestra, cutting-edge (at the time) synthesizers, guitar solos by the esteemed Pat Metheny, and pan pipes (actually commercial PVC piping cut to Goldsmith’s specifications). Under Fire was, in a way, the ‘gateway’ score from Goldsmith’s primarily acoustic experimentation of the 1970s to the electronic rhythm sections he explored in the 1980s; never before had he used keyboards as such a driving force for the musical constructions, and in Under Fire the synthesized tones do wonders in presenting the central characters’ emotions in a way both intimate and fresh. Adding to Under Fire’s prestige is the fact that the [soundtrack] album, produced by Goldsmith with longtime recording engineer Bruce Botnick, was specially devised to showcase the score as a musical work unto itself. Goldsmith wrote two standalone selections for the record and after completing the recording sessions in London decided to record additional overlays and linking material in Los Angeles. The record came out so well that many of the album mixes were retroactively dubbed into the film itself.”