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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    




MOVIE BRASS
Kenneth J. ALFORD
Bridge on the River Kwai: Colonel Bogey
John BARRY / Monty NORMAN
James Bond: Medley
Elmer BERNSTEIN
The Great Escape: March
Eric COATES
The Dam Busters: March
Bill CONTI
Rocky: Gonna Fly Now
Harry GREGSON-WILLIAMS / John POWELL

Chicken Run: Main Theme
James HORNER
Braveheart: For the Love of a Princess
Miklos ROZSA
Ben-Hur: March of the Charioteers
Alan SILVESTRI
Forrest Gump: Feather Theme
John WILLIAMS
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park: Main Theme, Star Wars: Main Theme, Superman: Theme
Hans ZIMMER
Gladiator: Barbarian Horde
Grimethorpe Colliery U.K. Coal Band/Garry Cutt
Recorded June 2001, Dewbury Town Hall
RCA VICTOR 74321 88393 2 [60.31]
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It might be rather fun to give this disc, together with the list of titles in higgledy-piggledy order, to someone who knows none of the films, and see how they match them up. The one that starts with a five-minute build-up brazenly cribbed from Holst’s "Mars", for instance; now that would have to be "Star Wars", wouldn’t it? Well, it’s "Gladiator", actually. And talking of cribs, did no one point out to John Williams that the "Jurassic Park" main theme is practically note-for-note in step with Dan Schutte’s 1981 hymn-tune (much used in evangelical gatherings around the world) "Here I am, Lord"?

Perhaps none of this matters. The music has been proved effective in its context, and has been worked into neat pieces and medleys for out-of-context listening. You can hear that some dreadful films, such as "Superman", got much better music than they deserved, that the "Feather Theme" from "Forrest Gump" is a delicately attractive piece, and that the remorselessly large-scale bad taste of "Ben-Hur" at least found its match in Rozsa’s noisily tuneless march. There has been a drive of late to proclaim Rozsa as an important composer. Not here, he wasn’t.

The arrangements are magnificently effective and despite the subtitle, "The world’s greatest movie themes performed by the world’s favourite brass band", there has been a careful avoidance of those "greatest themes" ("Gone with the Wind", "Dr. Zhivago", "Out of Africa" …) which would have cried out for soaring strings. So just sit back and lap it up, for this really has been "the world’s favourite brass band" ever since its appearance in "Brassed Off" and, what’s more, deserves to be.

Some time ago I reviewed an album of theirs called "Top Brass" which contained the "Brassed Off" soundtrack, conducted by Trevor Jones, plus "Classic Brass" under the present conductor, and felt that the latter, in the pieces in common, did not quite have the verve of the soundtrack album. Here, too, there is a piece in common, "Colonel Bogey", but this time the comparison goes the other way. The film version is perhaps more of a straightforward march while the present one is so light on its feet as to seem an orchestral scherzo, with all the counter-melodies beautifully balanced. It’s a gorgeously cheeky performance. The same treatment maybe isn’t quite so suitable for the "Dam Busters" March, and the end is heavy. Here I took down Sir Adrian Boult’s classic Lyrita performance (with full orchestra), which shows that slower doesn’t mean heavier. It swaggers, it sings, and at the end there is no heaviness, just the straightforward jubilation, the sense of catharsis even, of soldiers returning home with a dangerous mission safely behind them. But then, Boult lived through all those times. His performance also reminds us that the great symphonic conductors of the past were ready to take a "light" piece and conduct it as if it were, for that moment, the only music that mattered to them.

But these are more considerations than criticisms. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band have their place in history, too. If you enjoyed "Brassed Off", don’t miss this one.

Christopher Howell

If you enjoyed "Brassed Off", don’t miss this one. … see Full Listing


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