This is the Italian release of the soundtrack to a French 'TV film in four
episodes', with music by the Algerian-born composer Jean-Marie Senia, best
known in the UK for scoring Celine and Julie go Boating (1974) and
Jonah who will be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976). Senia, previously a
professor at the National Theatre of Strasbourg, has written the music to
over 500 TV programmes, as well as scoring numerous continental feature films.
Les Moissons de l'Ocean is described as a drama about a tuna fisherman based
in the small port of Saint Jean-de-Luz, who encounters animosity following
the development of a new fishing technique. The adventure involves incarceration
in an African prison, diamond mines, and a romantic sub-plot involving
'Violette'; from the booklet apparently the name of both the hero's boat
and girlfriend. The back-cover photograph shows one of those impossibly beautiful
and elegant actresses the French seem to have in endless supply.
The score features nine named soloists playing predominantly, accordion,
oboe, piano, trumpet, cello, saxophone, percussion, horn and guitar. There
is also some discrete synthesiser backing to a few of the 31tracks: some
pieces are very short, none lasting more than 3 minutes, and several lasting
between 50 seconds and a minute. This is a chamber score, with often only
one instrument playing at a time, or two or three in combination with one
soloing and the others providing backing. Several tracks are more in the
nature of ensemble pieces, and given the limited forces this does provide
for considerable variety of sound. Further, Senia's music ranges from sunny
atmospheres, passages of introspective melancholy and jazzy tunes, through
a fandango, African rhythms and classical sounding solo pieces. There is
a very open French Mediterranean feel about much of the score, with light
folk accordion melodies, together with trumpets and castanets more suggestive
of Spain, and giving a sense of the melting pot of Southern Europe.
The music here is light and breezy with very clear sound, entirely lacking
in dark shadows or tension, and apart from a couple of percussive sections
is just the sort of thing that might play in an English café attempting
to be French café. Anyone who enjoyed Gabriel Yarde's score for Betty
Blue should like this, while if you can imagine an acoustic version to
Eric Serra's The Big Blue you are half-way to Les Moissons de l'
Ocean. In one or two of the accordion-led seascapes it may just be possible
to detect an echo of Jerry Goldsmith's great score for Papillon. It
may not be particularly attention grabbing or dramatic, but if you want a
pleasant reminder of balmy summer days spent relaxing in France then you
could do much worse than this album.
Gary S. Dalkin