If one didn’t know any better (and who says one doesn’t?), that one may think that Lalo Schifrin composed the soundtrack to every move and television show in the late 60’s and early 70’s. His most well-known work has to be for the iconic 60’s TV series “Mission: Impossible” (and later that same year, “Mannix”). Right around the same general time frame came soundtracks for a pair of great Steve McQueen films, “Cool Hand Luke” and “Bullitt”, as well as “Marquis De Sade”, “Murderer’s Row”, “Coogan’s Bluff” and Academy Award nominee “The Fox” (for the record, “Cool Hand Luke” was also a nominee). And that’s just for starters. There was also a boundary pushing non-soundtrack record – “There’s A Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin’ On”- that is also very highly regarded. Dude must have never left the studio in those days.
“Rise & Fall…”, taken from the three-part television mini-series, which was itself based on the William Schirer’s book of the same name, must surely be one of his most obtuse works. I can honestly say that I am not musically versed enough to even try to describe what the hell is going on here, but my understanding is that this work was not as much an actual soundtrack as it was a “cantata” based on Schifrin’s true score (and I’m not sure the true score was even officially released).
The lone piece of commentary that I could actually find on this record (which is one of slew of records Schifrin composed and released that isn’t recognized by the folks over at All Music) was taken from a 1967 Life Magazine blurb written by Downbeat’s west coast editor Harvey Sider…
“It is a solidly constructed work, a 44 minute modern day Faust legend ranging in idiom from traditional German classicism to contemporary tone clusters that occasionally flirt with atonality. The score adheres to the slightly surrealistic English libretto by poet Alfred Perry. With the Versailles Treaty as it’s implied starting point, the allegory examines the 20th Century Gotterdammerung with the chorus cast as the gods, the contralto as Mother Earth, the tenor as the Devil.”
Okay, sure. I would agree with that. That is, as much as I understand it. My takeaway – it’s pretty out there. And while I typically like “atonal”, I’m not the biggest cantata fan that you’ll run across. But if you are, and you’re up for what I consider both an impressive and challenging piece of work, have at it.
This original 1967 stereo recording is in pretty fantastic shape – vinyl is in super beautiful near mint condition while the jacket has the faintest touch of ring wear, more visible on the back than front, and has a clean cut-out hole found on the bottom left corner. (This appears to be one of those titles that is damn near impossible to find without the coh, and it’s pretty hard to find as it is). Inner gatefold, which contains paste-on liner notes & libretto, is also in great shape. All this for $40.