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Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (Robert Gulya)

May 3, 2015

Cover_TomSawyerAndHFTOM SAWYER & HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Robert Gulya, 2015, MovieScore Media
15 tracks, 54:26

Out of nowhere comes this incredibly infectious, feel-good score by one Robert Gulya, harkening back to adventure scores of the 80s. Fans of Brougton, Horner and Williams may wish to take note!

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Jo Kastner, the story follows the classic Mark Twain story as our teenaged heroes witness a murder and must keep the secret in order to stay alive. When an innocent man is sentenced to death, Tom comes clean about the murder, but a mysterious treasure and the escape of the real killer Injun Joe make things all the more complicated.

Robert Gulya is an award-winning, UK-based film composer who graduated from the prestigious USC music program in Los Angeles as a Fulbright scholar in 2001. Since then he has scored over 20 motion pictures. He is also a top composer in his native Hungary, scoring some of the most commercially successful comedies. Robert is also the managing director of Boulevard Worldwide, a music production company specializing in TV commercials.

What does it sound like?

Gulya has crafted an infectious score for full orchestra. In his own words: “Tom and Huck are a little bit older than in the novel, they are around 15 years old. This allowed us to have a score that has more bravado, kind of like “Harry Potter” or “Pirates of the Caribbean” – without the monsters of course.

The score doesn’t really sound anything like “Potter” or “Pirates”, but it does have a similar sense of energy; its melodies are equally catchy and the orchestrations are just as colourful. Strings and woodwinds seem to address the softer innocent side of the story, with brass playing to the adventure, and banjo representing the locale.

The composer presents his main theme in the opening (and titular) track “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn”. There are a number of melodies and motifs throughout this score, but the most dominant and memorable one is the one that starts around 1:30 in the opening cue. Of course it’s reprised in the “Main Title”, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. It returns in virtually every cue thereafter. It’s an infectious, feel-good type of a theme, so its many reprises are always welcome… that said, it does make this feel like a mono-thematic score.

The score is a delight. From the playful percussion and banjo of “Secret Island” to the bouncy woodwinds in “Digging” or the almost march-like “Painting” (which adds a choir to the main theme). As “Morning” presents the main theme once again, you may be forgiven for thinking “again?”, but it’s so lovely and soon makes way for banjo and strings that are at once playful and a little suspenseful. Towards the end of this cue there’s a wonderful passage where a simple motif is tossed around between flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon. It won’t necessarily catch your attention, but it is just one of many examples that show how colorfully this score is orchestrated. It then finishes with a horn solo that just reeks of 80s Horner (particularly “Krull”).

Subsequent cues continue in a similar fashion. “Old Wreck” showcases some fantastic action / adventure music with a strong emphasis on (low to mid) brass. “Night Mission” cleverly relies on light percussion and fast-paced string- and banjo ostinatos to create a ‘snooping around’ type of atmosphere. Later Gulya briefly introduces a modern percussive loop, which feels a little at odds with the rest of the score, which is so deliciously old-fashioned. “Back to the Cave” (both parts) are full of wonder, mystery, suspense and playfulness, before the album closes with the pretty, if a little fragmented, “Stay Together”.

Is it any good?

Robert Gulya’s “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” is a simply marvellous score for full orchestra, with a bold main theme and colourful orchestrations. More than anything it reminds me of the kind of ‘adventure’ scores you got in the 80s. The stuff Bruce Broughton, John Williams or James Horner used to write. The score does rely rather heavily on its main theme, and it’s quite ‘in your face’ a lot of the time. As a result, the album as a whole feels a bit repetitive, even though each cue in its own right is simply marvellous. It’s so charming, full of innosence… it’s just so much fun!

Rating [4/5]

Tracklisting

01. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (6.24)
02. Main Title (3.45)
03. Secret Island (3.16)
04. Digging (2.37)
05. Painting (3.11)
06. Morning (2.37)
07. Muff Has Escaped (2.36)
08. Court (4.14)
09. Old Wreck (3.12)
10 The Barn (5.29)
11. The Search (6.12)
12. Night Mission (1.48)
13. Back to the Cave, Pt. 1 (3.28)
14. Back to the Cave, Pt. 2 (3.37)
15. Stay Together (2.00)

Availability

Visit the MovieScore Media website for more information and audio clips.

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