Rachel Portman's 'Main Titles' theme from "The Cider House Rules" plays again
as this review materializes. Just the theme, playing over and over...
A truism offered by science fiction writer Aldous Huxley states, "After silence,
that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." Music
can resonate as the world's ultimate poetry. For the film music admirer,
a good soundtrack builds and breaks barriers in moments.
This melody is of a romantic conception. It is elegant, its idealism meaningfully
simple, its aspirations as involved as human feeling. One may hear it and
think of Georges Delerue, a composer who this reviewer firmly believes wrote
themes of perfection, like shimmering sunlight on clear spring day, they
streamed through leaves and trees to touch the ground no less what they were,
but more expressive and vigorous. These themes, these instrumentations,
everything is divine not just in what it says, but how it means to be heard.
The small paradox with "The Cider House Rules" is that pushing 'repeat play'
is mostly unnecessary. The score has effective divergences from its core
material, but if this were an LP I would wonder if the needle keeps getting
stuck in a groove. More varied use of the themes, more diverse orchestrations,
would build a greater sense of interest and emotion. The 'poetry' does become
For the score as a whole, Mrs. Portman uses her exceptional compositional
skills to create a sense of place, time, and personality. Imperishable piano
solos (performed by John Lenehan), vibrant string passages, and chamber-like
winds harden into the groundwork of the score. While philosophers of cinema
keenly point to film as an action-orientated medium, as the terms 'movies'
and 'motion pictures' themselves suggest, Portman's score reflects a more
casual approach, suggesting an awareness (of some sort) to a philosophy that
assuming questions of worth and meaning are more accurately determined by
decency and usefulness than they are by mere operation.
Five stars, given with some reservation, go to this pastoral recording. The
soundtrack's monotony is a minor flaw, a blemish, on a lengthy list of many
positive aspects. Those good times are parts that, unlike a multitude of
modern ditties, impress for more than a moment; there are many beautiful
things offered within the score. The performances are pleasant, the sound
follows suit, the themes and orchestrations are worth a fair amount of their
repeating appearances, and the aforementioned artistic philosophy, made
consciously or not, breathes fresh air. It has decency. It has usefulness.
By them, this music has grace.
Ian Lace agrees but
Again, Jeffrey hits the nail on the head when he talks about the repetitive
nature of this score. Playing devil's advocate, I have to say that I found
many of the middle tracks on this album wearying because of their similarity
- their saccharine, homely melancholic/elegiac sameness with thin well-used
material insufficiently varied in harmony and instrumentation to keep the
But - the disc is worth its price for the glow of the opening tracks that
Jeffrey warms to. There is a delicacy and elegance that is most appealing
with a lovely melody that reminds me of English - or rather Irish - folk