first came to my notice when he wrote the music for HIGHLANDER the source, I thought then that this composer certainly must have a bright future, his latest score is for something that is slightly more high profile than HIGHLANDER, GAGARIN-FIRST IN SPACE is a 10 million dollar movie telling of the real life events behind the first manned space flight and the man who flew in space Yuri Gagarin. The score by composer George Kallis
is an impressive and wonderfully lyrical work that has been written for large symphonic orchestra, choir and also has electronic elements within its framework that support and embellish the conventional instrumentation without being intrusive or overpowering in any way. What we are hearing with this score is a step back in time to the days of what I call wholesome and rich sounding themes, music that is highly melodic and lush with a sound that is not only dramatic and poignant but also posses an eloquent and imposing quality. The composer has created a driving work that has to it many facets and musical levels, all of which entertain and at times mesmerize the listener. It is a score that actually contains themes, real tunes that. have a quality to them remind me in so many ways of the style of soundtracks that were penned some three decades ago. Many of the compositions within the score are hauntingly beautiful, but there are also a number of more dramatic and hard hitting moments within the work both of which combine to create a score that will remain with the listener long after the compact disc has finished playing. The instrumentation or orchestration for me at least evokes memories of soundtracks from the mid to late 1960,s trough to the 1970,s and 80,s by composers such as Barry and Goldsmith plus there is a sound and style present that could be Basil Poledouris
or even James Horner
, this being especially evident with some of the luxurious string passages and chorale work on the score, in fact the composers music for this movie reminded me in many ways of CONAN The Barbarian on more than one occasion. Booming and rumbling percussive elements act as a background to lush and strident strings with flyaway woods and brass punctuation all of which act as a support to an imposing sounding choir. These elements and style of scoring is more prominent in track number five, THE LAUNCH OF THE VOSTOK, this is an exhilarating cue, anthem like in places with driving strings and percussion building to a crescendo that is completed by choir, then mid way through the cue the mood alters and we find ourselves being treated to a highly emotional almost heavenly sounding interlude performed by both choir and strings, this soon reverts to a more dramatic sounding piece with brass enhancing the string section and again being supported by percussion which brings the cue to a conclusion.
Then there is track number six, THE EARTH FROM ABOVE, which is definitely a piece that is filled to the brim with emotive qualities. I love the way in which the composer utilizes horns combined with strings and percussion, it is a sound that does have connections with old school film scoring but it also a sound that also posses innovative and original qualities. Overall GAGARIN is a score that I know will please film music enthusiast old and new, don’t miss this one, just go buy it…
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light