Composed, Conducted by Michael Kamen
Produced by Michael Kamen with James Brett, Michael Price
Orchestrations by Michael Kamen with Robert Elhai, Geoff Alexander and Blake Neely
Executive Producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman Performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra
Released by Sony Classical Records August 28, 2001
Researching his role in Saving Private Ryan, actor Tom Hanks devoured the works of author Stephen E. Ambrose and among those books was Band of Brothers. Hanks would later approach director Steven Spielberg and HBO with the possibility of turning Ambroses' chronicling of the Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, into a full scale mini-series event. Both Spielberg, as executive producer along with Hanks, and HBO dove into the project. As a result, Band of Brothers has become HBO's most expensive mini-series to date. The ten hour series will follow the group of paratroopers from training through to the Battle of the Bulge and to the capturing of Hitler's Eagle's Nest.
When it was first announced the Michael Kamen would be brought on as the composer for this HBO mini-series, reactions were mixed. With his exceptional, and but mostly overlooked music for HBO's series From the Earth to the Moon (produced by Tom Hanks), Michael Kamen's selection should not have been a big surprise. From the early to mid-Nineties, Michael Kamen established that he had the heroic to the tender well within in his composing-range, but as the century closed a stand-out effort from Kamen became scarce. In composing the score for Band of Brothers, one formidable obstacle would certainly be before Kamen - the inevitable drawing of comparisons to John Williams' Saving Private Ryan. Be this as it may, the selections presented in this Sony Classical release are some of Michael Kamen's best pieces in recent memory, making Band of Brothers a soundtrack that should get film music fans back on the Kamen-Bandwagon.
Band of Brothers ranges from the rousing to the tenderly tragic. In both cases, the music is truly evocative. This score borders on the triumphant musical-elements of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Mr. Holland's Opus as well as a number of other scores from Kamen's bag o' heroics. The sole element that could be said to be "inspired by" John Williams' Saving Private Ryan, is the Main Theme (1). Here, Kamen utilizes the choir to perform the theme in hymn-like fashion and immediately draws memories of Williams' Hymn to the Fallen. Despite the similarities, Kamen's piece does stand on its own two feet. The soundtrack concludes with a powerful performance of the main theme, Band of Brothers Requiem (20) with vocals performed by Maire Brennan and Zoe Kamen. The vocal performances of the main theme sandwich the rest of the score in the same way Hymn to the Fallen did for the Saving Private Ryan release and like its predecessor the Band of Brothers main theme leaves its mark upon the listener.
Aside from the opening track, the first few tracks (2 - 4) are bold, high energy, determined tracks. Reflecting comradery, bravery, violence, victory and defeat that are woven into the fabric of war, Kamen's music is forceful, but full of optimism. It is here that the listener will get an earful of the "good stuff" Kamen used to deliver much more regularly. Given the duration of the entire series, the album producers elected to include to musical suites along with Tracks 2 and 3 are well arranged musical suites, which, together provide a adequate sampling of the score's range.
The tenor of the soundtrack changes dramatically at track 5, Swamp. With a few simple notes played by the flute, the remainder of the score abandons the vibrancy and the adventurous element of the first few tracks, and in its place focuses on the terrors, trials and tragedies of war. Relying much more on the solo performances of trumpet, piano, and violin, than the full performance of the London Metropolitan Orchestra, Kamen begins to narrow the musical focus to the individuals involved in this war of masses. The sad beauty of most of the majority of remaining tracks does start to wear one out by the end of the soundtrack, but there are a number of stand out moments such as: Parapluie (8), Plasir D'Amour (14), and Austria (19).
Despite becoming a little tiresome midway, Band of Brothers is a pleasure to listen to. Having drawn the ire of so many in the world of classical music in early 2001, it is nice to see (and hear) Kamen return to composing for film. With lack luster efforts like X-Men, it hasn't been since the mid-nineties that Michael Kamen really caused a positive stir among film music fans. His work for Band of Brothers should change that considerably. While Band of Brothers might not be the most inventive score in 2001, it is certainly one of the most solid. Kamen should draw some praise for being able to compose his way out of John Williams foreboding-WWII-shadow and firmly placing his own stamp upon this mini-series that promises to actually be worth viewing.
|1. Main Titles|
|2. Band Of Brothers Suite One|
|3. Band Of Brothers Suite Two|
|4. The Mission Begins|
|6. Spier's Speech|
|7. Fire On Lake|
|9. Boy Eats Chocolate|
|10. Bull's Theme|
|11. Winters On Subway|
|13. Buck In Hospital|
|14. Plaisir d'amour|
|15. Preparing For Patrol|
|16. String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131|
|17. Discovery Of The Camp|
|18. Nixon's Walk|
|20. Band Of Brothers Requiem|