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4 Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corigliano's visionary score, August 28, 2008
By 
Rinaldo (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Altered States (1980 Film) (Audio CD)
I instantly ran out and bought the LP after seeing Ken Russel's over-the-top film. I also wanted to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms, climb into a sensory deprivation tank and run with wild dogs, but that's another story...The CD was long out of print but Arkvimusic's on demand service brought it back to life. This is thrilling music that will appeal to lovers of exotic orchestration, Ives and, believe it or not, American hymnody. My only complaint is the playing time of the CD, quite short for the price. Still, well worth getting. In September, Naxos is coming out with a CD of the Three Hallucinations from Altered States coupled with Corigliano's Mr. Tambourine Man Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man; Seven Poems of Bob Dylan; Three Hallucinations. These will be awesome recordings for sure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But I still won't see the movie again, June 29, 2007
By 
Matt (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Altered States (1980 Film) (Audio CD)
This jarring soundtrack to a very psychedelic film is a fun listen. There really isn't a "happy" tune in the entire work, as the tone is dark, moody, and often quite wild. But as the film is about the regression of man into something primitive, it fits. Corigliano shows a different side than what mainstream audiences heard in The Red Violin.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and scary!, April 22, 2000
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Altered States (1980 Film) (Audio CD)
I hope that John Corigliano's recent success with The Red Violin will reanimate interest in this amazing work. Although I have some reserves about the movie, I think that the CD is superb! It does take a few listens though before the brain can make sense of this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental achievement in film music, January 16, 2009
This review is from: Altered States (1980 Film) (Audio CD)
What separates John Corigliano from many of his contemporaries on the classical circuit is that, even in moments of the most frightening chaos or the most potent dread, he maintains taut and tangible melodies that engross rather than disorient his audience. His big-orchestra work sounds less like Bartok composing on pot and more like Prokofiev composing on crack -- every bit as beautiful and human as it is muscular and savage. And yet, the muscle and savagery make his music more uniquely enthralling than any of the John Williams wannabes that flooded the film industry in the 1980s.

His score to Altered States is a little different. I chose to edit this review because I realized, long after my initial rapture with the album and extreme naivete about modern music, that it's not all dreamy, Romantic, comic-book dread. One listener who read me making that case marked it unhelpful, and I had to agree.

It's common for a composer to sprinkle dissonance into a horror score for added delirious effect, as Corigliano does noisily enough at the end of "Main Title and First Hallucination." Once you're at "First Transformation," though, the dissonance is lathered on pretty thick. People have compared this score, often favorably, to Penderecki, Xenakis, and other modern composers who counteract Corigliano's musical discipline -- sometimes for earnest, tragic reasons, and other times just to spite the rest of us. Yet, the edge the screeches, scrapes, and skitters on this album might have over your average "ear Drano" piece is how ALIVE they feel. The enthusiasm and satisfying structure of the more experimental tracks evoke a slightly more agitated Rite of Spring, which fits the film's primeval subject matter and aesthetic like a glove.

Though the actual film score runs a bit longer and sounds pretty brash throughout, Corigliano and the album producers did us the favor of assembling the best bits into a more listenable and more rhythmic album. There are a few stops for relief, such as the mildly schmaltzy but quite necessary "Love Theme," while some of the best cues seem to be restored to the original recordings. "Second Hallucination" is that much more satisfying with the wistful, waltz-timed comedown at the end, and "Primeval Landscape," the larger part of which was shoved into a silly scene with the security guards, shimmers with seductive, brooding presence on its own terms. For what it's worth, I consider that two minutes and 17 seconds some of the most gorgeous music I've heard in my life.

Regardless of your feelings about the music from Altered States or any exasperation you may endure by the album's close, any work this ambitious, inventive, and gleefully grotesque demands a full five stars. It's a good thing Amazon's samples are back, because as little of the music as they provide, hearing it truly is believing. Highly recommended.
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Altered States (1980 Film)
Altered States (1980 Film) by John Corigliano (Audio CD - 1990)
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