Stephen Edwards’ “Piano Music From Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen” is an entertaining and spellbinding collection that, as promised by the title, contains pieces from lesser-known films. Edwards’ original music is highly visual. I found myself wanting to see every movie from which the music is taken from, although some of these films are hard to come by. In the same way as Edwards’ music from blockbusters such as “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Glow”, this collection too is like a treasure chest for any film music fan.
Stephen Edwards (born 1962) grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Like so many kids of his era, his musical background started with piano lessons at the young age of 7. His musical passions broadened and deepened when attending Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where he received a Bachelor of Music in piano performance. Stephen moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and immediately hit the “circuit,” playing at bars and restaurants. Success came relatively early when he was hired to compose the score for the film “Midnight Fear” in 1990.
In 2000, an artistic landmark was reached when he composed “Ave Maria Mass,” which had its debut performance at Carnegie Hall in 2004, performed with a 50-piece orchestra and a choir of 300 vocalists. Stephen Edwards’ music has been used in over 100 movies, including “Nomadland”, “The Mechanic”, “The Prestige”, and “Syndrome K”, which he also produced and directed. When it comes to “Piano Music from Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen”, music promoter Stacey Bonk said, “be forewarned, it may send you searching on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or HBOMax, looking for the films in which the music is featured!”
Midnight Fear x 2
The album opens with two pieces from the thriller “Midnight Fear”, which we learned above was the first movie to feature Edwards’ music. “Bed to Hayknife” is a light waltz that twists and turns wonderfully. I love its atmosphere! It makes the listener reflect and feel. I guess that’s the primary goal of any movie soundtrack. “Bed to Hayknife” also shows Edwards’ abilities as a pianist. It is a promising start to the compilation!
Sample the album and find it on your favorite streaming service:
“Jen’s Theme” is a sad piece, although I believe it is even more emotionally charged when you see the video. In the liner notes, Edwards writes: “I jumped at the chance to do a solo piano cue for the female lead Jenny (played by August West) who had been taken hostage and was trying to figure a way out.” There is a fragility and beauty to “Jen’s Theme” that you will immediately pick up on.
The Minister’s Wife
I know it might seem like a cliché, but there is a well-made human touch to every piece on the compilation; The listener immediately picks up on the emotional qualities. Listen to “The Minister’s Wife,” and you will see (and feel!) what I mean. “Armed and Deadly” is the theme from “a movie about terrorists led by a droid”. It is a wonderful composition that is easy to remember. It might be even more memorable than the movie itself.
Here is the complete tracklist:
Next out is “Illegal in Blue”. Here too the force and passion of the music surpass the movie (based on the description at least): “it is an erotic thriller that nobody saw about a rogue cop who falls for a femme fatale”.
On “Conspiracy of Fear”, Edwards was to “create a theme over a montage of computers and spy networks that made the audience feel the human side of the emotional landscape of the film.” From what I can tell, Edwards did an outstanding job! The melody instantly connects with the listener and telling us what to expect. This is an emotionally charged moment. “Project Shadowchaser III” might not be the best sci-fi movie made, but Edwards’ music captures the loneliness of outer space perfectly. Listening to the piece, I cannot help reflecting on how bad movies sometimes have great soundtracks. To quote Rolling Stone, it is a “Burn the film, play the soundtrack” kind of situation.
Some of the pieces have classical inspirations, especially “Nocturne of the Sea” (used on the tv series “Alias”). It has a touch of Debussy or Ravel. One of my favorite compositions here is “Piano and Innocence” from the Steven Segal movie “Today You Die” (2005). The music plays as the main characters are planning their next crime. There is a melancholy here that I find fascinating. The quiet “Theme from Rome and Jewel” is another winner. The build-up and conclusion are magnificent! “Intervention Main Title” takes the compilation in a new and creative direction. Edwards used the piano in new ways (rubbing various items on the strings etc.). The light and jazzy “Requiem for My Mother Theme Stride” is a nice contrast to the following “Requiem Agnus Dei for Piano”, showing how versatile Edwards is as a composer.
Two of the best pieces are saved for last. I found myself looking for the replay button when “Syndrome K Main Title” came on. This is music from a WW2 documentary Edwards produced, directed, and scored. The last piece is the opening music from “Death Link” (2021).
In conclusion: If you love movies, you also love movie music. It is as simple as that. “Piano Music from Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen” by Stephen Edwards is an outstanding collection of piano pieces. Even though the movies weren’t big successes, it wasn’t because of Edwards’ music. It is phenomenal! My recommendation is; Listen to “Piano Music from Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen” first, then watch all the movies you can get hold of. Or you can skip the movies altogether and enjoy the music. Then you will notice that Edwards is a terrific performer too.
For more information and music samples, visit stephen-edwards.com