The box for this set confidently declares 'featuring your favourite
music from 40 of the best loved movies of all time’. If that's
the case the best loved movies of all time are largely
from the Hollywood over the last thirty years.
There's some concession to the films of Europe and the UK but it’s scant. The great god Hollywood still mumbles, shambles
and struts about.
The box certainly complies with the Ronseal test
when it says ‘including Original Soundtrack material and re-recorded
versions of music inspired by your favourite movies’. The
wording is carefully chosen. In fact the only original soundtrack
amongst the three discs was John Williams’ score for Born
on the Fourth of July. Williams garners nine tracks across
the forty offered on these three discs (four for Jarre and
two for Barry). This recording of Raiders of the Lost Ark
romps along, revelling in the music’s kitsch glories.
Allowing for the odious subscript that film music
history pretty much began in 1970 this is an enjoyable popular
collection. Along the way it serves to point up the magnificence
of Varese-Sarabande's engineering team especially when they
travel to Glasgow. Their Elmer Bernstein Magnificent Seven
is matchless; the best recording and even better than
the original soundtrack. This is astonishingly good music-making
– brazen, masculine and euphoric. This piece bred a thousand
great themes such as The High Chaparral but itself
owes something to Martinu’s 4th symphony.
Sadly the Saving Private Ryan extract is
a little soggy as is the Superman theme by comparison
with the OST. On the other hand Silvestri's Back to the
Future sounds glorious with stabbing Waltonian energy.
Tan Dun's score for Crouching Dragon has the requisite
strangeness and plenty of gruff impact.
Barry's Dances with Wolves and Out of
Africa sound languidly sumptuous just as they should.
Jarre's music is lightly dancing – typically Coplandesque
Americana for Witness – The Building Of The Barn. The Stepford Wives
theme is by David Arnold. Arnold seems here to be ‘doing an Elfman’. Alexandre Desplat's Girl
With A Pearl Earring also pays glistening tribute to Elfman
in the style of Edward Scissorhands. We also hear Arnold conducting Elfman himself in Batman. This
is again a bit ‘wet’ but Paul Bateman is anything but in the
fine re-recording of Star Wars Episode IV - Main Title.
John Williams, in the main theme from ET,
is in luxurious form, making the perfect start to the
second disc. Badelt 's theme from Pirates of the Caribbean
played by Tolga Kashif and the RPO has all the requisite grunt
and thud (1.40). This is irresistible toe-tapping music but
then so is Zimmer's music for Gladiator, sounding
startlingly like Holst's Mars. It is spectacular in
the anvil blows and in the massed brass. Lara’s theme succumbs
to unfeeling kitsch - it sounds simply perfunctory. Disc 2
has a higher proportion of romantic material than the other
Gone with the Wind represents Steiner – the
sole representative of the ‘Golden Age’. But there's no Waxman,
no Rózsa, no Korngold, no Herrmann, no Friedhofer. Addinsell
speaks for the older British contingent – sadly no Vaughan
Williams, Bliss or Rawsthorne. Barber's Adagio is used
in Platoon. Here it is the sole voice for classical
pieces used in the cinema.
Tony Bremner paces things adroitly in the Lawrence
of Arabia overture. Serebrier is good in The Big Country
with buzzing energy aplenty and then the easing stretch of
that big theme; in this case a mite rushed.
Tim Lihoreau's notes are very good of their kind
and are studded with gems of information and humour. Pity
though that he is allergic to giving dates for the films.
The documentation comes in the form of a fold-out paper insert
in each slim-line case. These three cases are housed in a
very sturdy card box. The only downside is that they slip
out of the box far too easily.
Why are the company so coy about playing times?
Nowhere is the total duration declared. As it turns out they
are not exactly packed but the content is generous enough
for anyone accustomed to pop CDs.
The collection is assembled from various sources
licensed from Silver Screen, Sony, Varese-Sarabande, Geffen
and BMG Conifer.
This is not aimed at a specialist market but across
more than three hours stylishly provides an attractive and inspiring
populist flavour of cinema music over the last thirty or so years.