Leviathan scored a year earlier proved to be
the turning point in Goldsmith's career and the reason why composer
and agent went after a more rewarding assignment in 1990. Leviathan
remains a popular score, but as a movie, Jerry Goldsmith deserved
something a lot more worthy of his talents.
By saying "no" to a lot of assignments they held out for Fred Schepisi's
adaptation of John Le Carre's book The Russia House. The
movie had quality written all over it and although it failed
to make massive box office, the movie garnered enough respect
to make it critic friendly and musically Goldsmith wrote one
of his most respected works. At the time he placed this ahead
of Islands in The Stream as his own personal favourite.
Fred Schepisi's polished adaptation was tailor made for scoring,
with emphasis placed on the Russian locations, and at times looking
like a travel log, it had to play over some of the best photography
lensed for film. Goldsmith's classy jazz score is introduced
over the cold grey skies of Moscow and introduces Michelle Pfieffer's
character (Katya). Goldsmith's transparent string writing
shows his intentions for this theme and introduces Branford Marsailis'
haunting Saxophone as the lead instrument.
Regardless of the love story this is still a cold war spy drama
set against a post glasnost Russia and we are introduced to the
intrigue through some restrained but nonetheless suspenseful string
work as British Intelligence search the flat of Barley Blair
(Introductions). Here Goldsmith creating light but ominous
overtones for strings and Piano for the espionage. These aspects
come to the fore later in a sequence where Blair is taught how
to spot anyone following him (Training). Here synth work
and strings create momentum by way of some unusual sounds, especially
noteworthy is a 'swishing' effect as Blair shows his lack of
seriousness to British Intelligence.
The developing relationship between Blair and Katya is Goldsmith's
main focus though as his main theme transforms during their early
scenes together and the awakening of their love for each other
(Katya and Barley - Bon Voyage). Here Goldsmith
introduces Dante by way of atmospheric chimes and ethnic
(First Name, Yakov). For this character Goldsmith uses
the traditional Russian woodwind instruments the Duduk and also
the Balalaika. Their tone perfectly conjuring up the mystery
of this character and the potential threat of being caught by
the Russian authorities.
As Blair and Katya become wiser to the coercion of the CIA and
MI6, and realising they are in danger of being caught, they plan
an escape. Barley's Love and My Only Country signal
their undying love for each other as Goldsmith breaks from spy
games to focus his elegant theme once more on their relationship.
Crossing Over sees the US and British intelligence waiting
anxiously to see if Blair has got what they want from Dante.
As the clocks tick away so does Goldsmith's metronome, now tense
bass creates a sense of uncertainty as plucked strings and
piano provide the signal that Blair has done his own deal to
save Katya and her family.
Goldsmith clearly adored this project, closing his score with
a lengthy romantic end credit (The Family Arrives) in
celebration of the family being reunited, with warm strings,
minor electronics and improvised Jazz. The Russia House
is evidence of Goldsmith at the top of his game and is also interesting
at revealing the original theme he developed for his unused score
to the movie Alien Nation. Thankfully though The Russia
House became its well deserved home.
MCA originally issued a lengthy CD. But Quartet followed up in
2017 with a complete score CD release, with a crisp recording and proved a
wonderful show case for the talents of both Marsailis and Mike
Lang (it was no coincidence that Marsailis turned up in James
Horner's Sneakers). One of the longest CDs approved by
Goldsmith, he was ironically criticised by some for its length.
But his agent, Richard Kraft, took the blame for that.