Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Poirot at the Movies: Murder on the Orient Express/Death on the Nile
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Two Composers Confront Poirot
NMdesapio | 02/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD presents the original soundtracks of two movies based on Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot detective novels and made in the 1970's, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (with score by Richard Rodney Bennett) and DEATH ON THE NILE (with score by Nino Rota). Listening to the scores one right after the other makes one appreciate the differing ways in which their composers - one British and the other Italian-born - approach the English detective story musically. While Bennett's score is often atonal, Rota's is basically Romantic in character (the "Great Pyramids" music recalls Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyeries"). Yet both scores convey tension, terror, mystery, and, of course, an aura of 1930's glamour so appropriate to both movies.
For MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, Bennett could simply have arranged a 1930's pastiche score and left it at that. Instead, he created an entirely original score to enhance the classic murder mystery on screen. The Overture certainly does, to quote Bennett himself, "give one the sense of excitement and anticipation that one felt in the theatre, as a child, before the curtain went up," while the main theme of "The Orient Express" combines a joyous waltz with an ominous woodwind motif that tells of dark deeds to come. "The Reenactment" and "The Murder" consist of some of the eeriest music ever heard in a film (as frightening - if not more so - as much of Bernard Herrmann's score for PSYCHO). At other times, the score is impressionistically beautiful, as in the Puccini-esque "Stamboul Ferry." Bennett impressively handles both music under dialogue (in "The Orient Express," for example, or "Princess Dragomiroff") and leitmotifs (the nervous string motif associated with the villain of the piece, acted by Richard Widmark). In short, this is a brilliant score. But what truly raises the soundtrack to the highest level is the grandly scaled playing of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, led by Marcus Dods. The 1974 recording matches the orchestra in quality, with each instrument clearly audible. Thus, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is a remarkable original soundtrack recording in more ways than one.
Rota begins DEATH ON THE NILE with a stirring overture that reminds the listener first of the magnificent Nile, then of the tragic love triangle at the movie's center. The overture's themes - and especially the five-note motif with which it starts - are repeated and developed throughout the score. Also suggesting the love triangle is the so-called Love Theme, heard in the tracks "Arrival at Wode Hall" and "Duet and Love Theme." "Jackie's Theme" is a remarkable depiction in music of that wronged woman's passionate desperation. And while always remaining tonal, Rota's music chills the listener in "The Temple of Karnak" (a memorably suspenseful scene in the film), "Linnet's Pearls," and "The Conclusive Evidence." The only "minus" of the DEATH ON THE NILE recording is that the various cues are presented out of order, making it hard to follow or to remember the movie's plot accurately simply by listening to the soundtrack.