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Serenada Schizophrana (Danny Elfman)

Danny Elfman let his muse run free for Serenada Schizophrana, a symphony commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra in New York. Following the world premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2005, Sony Classical has released the work as a CD/SACD (Super Audio CD). Scored for three flutes, three oboes, three clarinets, three bassoons, six French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, bass/contrabass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion, two pianos, synthesizers, harps, strings, and a small female chorus, Serenada Schizophrana affords Elfman uncharacteristic freedom since turning to film composition over twenty years ago. Elfman developed the symphony as a series of improvised movements, a "musical stream of consciousness."

Elfman cites among his influences film composers Bernard Herrmann, Nino Rota, Dimitri Tiomkin, Max Steiner and Erich Korngold; "classical" giants Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich and Carl Orff; and the modern grab bag of Kurt Weill, Duke Ellington, Harry Partch, and Philip Glass. The loosely connected pieces sidle and prance and march to Elfman's unique beats, familiar to film fans from much of Tim Burton's output (from Pee Wee's Big Adventure to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), among many others (Good Will Hunting, To Die For, Midnight Run, Spider-Man).

The six movements of Serenada Schizophrana are "I. Pianos" (7:00), "II. Blue Strings" (10:08), "III. A Brass Thing" (7:55), "IV. The Quadruped Patrol" (2:55), "V. "I Forget" (6:23), "VI. Bells and Whistles," chased by "VII. End Tag" (0:51) and bonus track "Improv for Alto Sax" (2:46). Elfman touches on just about every dynamic in his playbook, but by the finale (cheekily titled "Bells and Whistles"), the former Oingo Boingo bandleader worries himself into the musical crazies for which he's best known. A particular highlight is "I Forget," a choral piece with Spanish lyrics about a frustrated dissociation from a lost idea (the Spanish lyrics are in the CD booklet; the English translation's at Despite that playful theme, Elfman's creative inspiration has yet to run dry.

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