Thursday, January 8, 2015

Out Of Africa Vinyl LP Soundtrack by John Barry is an Audiophile Spectacular!

The music for Out of Africa was composed and conducted by veteran English composer John Barry. The score included a number of outside pieces such as Mozart's Clarinet Concerto Adagio and African traditional songs. The soundtrack garnered Barry an Oscar for Best Original Score and sits in fifteenth place in the American Film Institute's list of top 25 American film scores.

  • Composed by John Barry
  • Remastered directly from the Original Analog Master Tapes
  • Cut by Kevin Gray at Future Disc Systems
  • No noise supression or bass roll-off
  • Pressed on 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl
  • Gatefold Cover with deluxe inner sleeve
  • Original artwork and liner notes

Available here:

The Composer: John Barry is the genius composer who gave the early James Bond movies their distinctive musical language. He then went on to become one of the most celebrated film composers of modern times, winning five Academy Awards and four Grammys for such memorable scores as Midnight Cowboy , Dances With Wolves and, of course, Out Of Africa.

"There's something else in the film that really makes us care about what's going on. And that is John Barry's score. Famously, when first faced with the print of the film, Barry rejected director Pollack's notion that it be scored with indigenous melodies. Instead, he hit on the far more elemental (and far more powerful) notion that the music should score the emotion of the characters at the centre of the film. The landscape meanwhile could always speak for itself. A skeptical Pollack hesitantly agreed but the gamble paid off: Barry's approach to Out of Africa proved to be one of the most astute dramatic decisions of his career, resulting in a score that punctuated the turgid, navel-gazing gloom of the film to evoke real compassion and emotion for the characters.

The composer, ever self-deprecating, expressed surprise when he won the Oscar for Best Original Score, citing there was no more than 35 minutes of it in the two and a half hour film. But it's the sparing use of the music itself that guarantees it such heart-wrenching success. It's a brilliantly spotted film, and Barry's capacity for sheer, old-fashioned beauty cuts right to the centre of Blixen's heartbreak. Much of the score's success can be credited to its magnificent central theme, I Had a Farm in Africa, one that's clad in Barry's familiar style (high strings, low horns) but which takes on a spectacularly rich vein of melancholy when placed in the context of the film. Barry's understanding that human emotion in and of itself can be represented in an expansive, melodramatic fashion was a massively insightful notion, one that guaranteed the theme's status as one of the most glorious ever to grace the silver screen.

Positioned alongside the main theme is the lesser known but breathlessly intimate one for Karen herself. Split into three movements across the album (I'm Better at Hello/I Had a Compass from Denys/If I Know a Song of Africa), it's truly lovely, with particular emphasis going on woodwind and piano. Barry effectively pits the quiet intimacy of Karen's theme against the broader expanse of the Farm theme to create a dramatic contrast in scale. By choosing to score the emotional landscape as opposed to the physical one, Barry underpins both album and film with a genuine aura of sincerity.

There is one brief concession to local sounds at the end of the moodier Karen's Journey/Siyawe, which deploys ethnic voices to authentic effect. By contrast, Safari plays up the expansive joy of Karen's venture into the landscape, another example of the multitude of nuances enriching an admittedly brief score. The most memorable moments however are those that put the main theme at the forefront, chiefly the astonishing Flying Over Africa which builds from a low choral/orchestral combination to a majestic, thrilling variation on I Had a Farm. It's one of the most heavenly moments in Barry's lengthy career, and in the film, when combined with David Watkin's jaw-dropping aerial photography, it's simply remarkable.

It's also incredibly moving. By the time one reaches the heart-breaking End Title movement (You Are Karen), Barry's sense of musical compassion is overwhelming, the full orchestra performing the difficult trick of seeming uplifting and deeply melancholy at the same time. This is Barry's greatest achievement with the score, painting human heartbreak as a symphony and with that graceful, deft touch that only the very best film composers attain. In a career packed with highlights, Out of Africa stakes a claim as one of John Barry's most resonant and successful works, achieving a level of heart and soul that all scores aim for but which few achieve." - Sean Wilson, MFiles UK your Music... served right! (Audiophile Vinyl Records)  

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