John Barry / English Chamber Orchestra

The Beyondness of Things

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Composer John Barry, who has scored many dozens of films, including the James Bond series, Born Free, and Dances With Wolves, got his first chance to write an album of non-movie instrumental music with The Beyondness Of Things and responded with a group of generally slow-paced, contemplative pieces, each three to five minutes in length. Not forced to change styles suddenly to match the action on the screen, Barry was able to develop his melodic, wistful themes and sustain their mood. The CD sleeve was filled with philosophical quotations and pictures of the composer alone on the beach, and the music matched the words and images, though thematic and stylistic elements recognizable from his film work do manifest themselves. Tommy Morgan's solo harmonica occasionally led the English Chamber Orchestra in an intimate, childlike manner on titles like "Kissably Close" and "The Heartlands" -- the latter also contains writing for the strings and percussion that recalls various love themes that Barry has written for the Bond films over the years, as well as the more lyrical passages of his score for Dances With Wolves -- echoes of the sweeping, western panorama of the latter score also turn up in "Give Me A Smile," while "Meadow of Delight And Sadness" sounds like Dances With Wolves channeled through the score of Jerome Moross's music for The Big Country. The openings of "The Fictionist" and "Dawn Chorus" echo the mysteriosos that Barry used to write for movies like From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice, not to mention more recent fare, and "The Day The Earth Fell Silent" opens with a passage that might've come right out of From Russia With Love or Goldfinger (except that it would've been played louder and harder, and faster in either movie). Despite its title, "A Childhood Memory," with its martial drums, had a somber, ominous feel. The final track, "Dance With Reality," paced by David White's alto sax, has more of the jazz feel identifiable with Barry's film work and also with his early career as a pop-music band leader (the John Barry Seven etc).

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