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Music Conducted By
Jerry Goldsmith

Saxophone Performed By
Branford Marsailis

Piano Performed By
Mike Lang

Orchestrations By
Arthur Morton

Recorded By
Bruce Botnick

Performed By
-

Album Produced By
Mike Matessino

Label
Quartet Records CD

Previous Release(s)
MCA Records
MCAD 10136


Year Of CD/Film Release
2017/1990

Running Time
75:57

Availability
Limited Edition Release
 


Cues & Timings

1. Katya (3:57)
2. Introductions (3:12)
3. The Conversation (4:13)
4. Training (2:01)
5. Katya and Barley (2:32)
6. First Name, Yakov (2:53)
7. Bon Voyage (2:11)
8. The Meeting (3:59)
9. I'm With You/
What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter) (2:39)
10. Alone in the World (4:09) (Patti Austin - song)
11. The Gift (2:34)
12. Full Marks (2:27)
13. Barley's Love (3:24)
14. My Only Country (4:34)
15. Crossing Over (4:13)
16. The Deal (4:09)
17. The Family Arrives (7:38)


Soundtrack Ratings

Disappointing

Functional

Average

Good

Excellent

Outstanding



The Russia House
 

 

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 instrumentation (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.