December 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings / December /


VARIOUS
Utopia  
  Various
  Universal 472 064-2   [77:07 + 76:53]

Utopia

Here’s an oddity that’s been a long time in coming. For years, there’ve been "Best Of…" compilations that seem cobbled together from the most spurious of connective tissues. Now comes "Chilled Classics", which is made up of film music, TV themes, commercial jingle extracts, concert works and a few uncategorisables. All that’s supposed to link this 2-disc set together is an air of relaxation. Does it work? Of course not. No collection of work by multiple composers can truly hope to sustain a mood over a prolonged period of time, let alone the 2 & ½ hours on offer here.

The chop and change in filmic terms includes: "Now We Are Free" from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator. "Cavatina" from Stanley Myers’ The Deer Hunter, "Any Other Name" from Thomas Newman’s American Beauty, "Pelagia’s Song" from Stephen Warbeck’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" from Michael Nyman’s The Piano, "Main Theme" from John Williams’ Schindler’s List, "The John Dunbar Theme" from John Barry’s Dances With Wolves, "Love Theme" from Barrington Pheloung’s Nostradamus and 2 James Horner cuts from Braveheart and Titanic. Just from that list, the commercial angle being leant toward should be obvious.

Highlights from the ads category include "L’Heure Exquise" (Hahn) from The Virgin One commercial and "Kyrie from Misa Criolla" (Ramirez) from The Citizens Watch commercial.

Any of the cuts can individually be called highlights, but crammed together is another matter. It doesn’t help that a few facts are curiously inaccurate as well. "Saylon Dola" is credited simply to ‘Hess’. Its inclusion really seems to be because Russell Watson sings it. In fact, this is the chart-topping theme from the 80s TV series The One Game composed by Nigel Hess. Then there’s "Adagio For Strings / Vocal Version" by Samuel Barber which is credited to Platoon. Quite apart from the typical overlooking of its far better use in The Elephant Man, the vocal version actually appeared in John Barry’s The Scarlet Letter.

It’s hard to know who this is aimed at. Whoever they are, let’s hope it relaxes them far more than it did this reviewer!

Paul Tonks

*** (for the pieces themselves)

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