Jerry Goldsmith is, of course, best known as one of Hollywood's most prolific and celebrated composers, having scored more than 250 movies since the late 1950s. Christus Apollo
, the major work on this disc, is one of his rare concert commissions, a cantata setting of a text by SF author Ray Bradbury scored for narrator, mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra. Goldsmith takes an interestingly secular approach to Bradbury's apocalyptic setting of the Christmas story.
Written in 1969, the work reflects the composer's contemporary fascination with the 12-tone system, though fans of Goldsmith's film work will recognise here a prelude to his Oscar-winning choral music for The Omen (1976), as well as many echoes of his seminal Planet of the Apes score from the year before. Anthony Hopkins provides a suitably sepulchral narration, while mezzo Eirian James and the London Voices handle the complexities of the vocal writing with grace.
The two orchestral pieces that bookend the cantata present a study in the evolution of Goldsmith's style. Music for Orchestra, written in 1970, is another 12-tone piece and works very much as a complement to Christus Apollo. By contrast, 1999's Fireworks is a representative example of Goldsmith's modern and comparatively simpler approach, where his earlier avant-garde notions have been abandoned in favour of driving rhythms and pleasantly catchy melodies. The LSO under the composer's baton are on sparkling form throughout, and the recording, by Goldsmith's regular collaborator Bruce Botnick, is a model of clarity. --Mark Walker