An entertaining, obscure 1981 political thriller that stands as one of the nuttier pictures that Jerry Goldsmith scored is now just as remarkable for becoming one of the best, and boisterously re-performed soundtracks that the legendary composer has gotten. That’s thanks to the always-excellent triple-threat of album producer James Fitzpatrick, conductor Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, who follow up their recent take on Goldsmith’s HOUR OF THE GUN with an album that will completely blow fans away. This musical masterwork accompanied Franco Nero as a hapless Italian police whose investigation into a series of assassinations gets him into a world of hurt (including one especially hilariously homoerotic escape after a torture session). But leave it to Goldsmith to play this convoluted plot with all the epic importance he’d had given to ferreting out JFK’s killer.
THE SALAMANDER‘s formidable quality perhaps could be attested to Goldsmith having recently come off the cosmic score for the first STAR TREK movie, a rousing sense of symphonic gravitas that fills this movie’s grandly oppressive theme. Goldsmith’s search through the corridors of corrupt power yield chilling strings, riveting tension, militaristic darkness and the kind of pounding, go-for-broke staccato chase music that’s pure Goldsmith action delight. When it comes to THE SALAMANDER‘s setting, the composer employs accordions and strings for a wistful love theme, playing the romance that could be if only political murders didn’t get in the way. While this oft-requested score not have yielded the original tapes, you’d be as fooled as the complacent Italian public by the spot-on performance, avoiding any sense of echo to sound exactly as if you were listening to the original sessions. It’s almost amazing to think that Goldsmith specialist Leigh Phillips replicated this music by ear from watching the DVD. What’s he’s provided for Prague to play bursts with the brassily suspenseful muscle and lush strings that reveal THE SALAMANDER‘s ultimate secret as being a classic in Goldsmith’s fiercely majestic cannon.
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