September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Sept01/


EDITOR’s Recommendation September 2001



Philippe SARDE Sister Mary Explains it All. Lovesick. The Manhattan Project OSTs VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6268 [74:44]



I will confess at the outset that the arrival of this album has answered my prayer, if I am allowed a tangential pun at the expense of the album's title score. At last, here is an album from Philippe Sarde, the talented French composer, that includes his delightful and shamefully neglected music for the Dudley Moore and Alec Guinness comedy, Lovesick, a score I have been yearning for, for years. Thanks, Varèse! Lovesick (1983) is about a New York psychiatrist, Moore, who falls for one of his patients, Elizabeth McGovern, and is guided by the ghost of Freud (Guinness). Sarde's bittersweet dreamily romantic music is enchanting, so much so that his main theme span around in my head for days. The album includes a nine-movement suite from the film lasting nearly 25 minutes. The score also includes a pithy, almost sardonic Viennese waltz complete with accordions for atmosphere for the Freudian connections, and a lovely, increasingly dizzy variation on the main theme for 'Mesmerised' as the psychiatrist becomes the love victim of his patient. . 'Cloe' (McGovern) has a vulnerable, wistful variation that scintillates. Another variation presents the theme as 'Obsession in time' - a glittering waltz that also that also reintroduces those Viennese Freudian figures. These also figure in a rather more shadowy form in 'Saul's Nightmare'. 'Alone' is a sad little cue that has a Fauré like grace and charm. A delightful, clever score, perhaps too clever for this slight comedy that disappointed the critics yet is disarming and pleasant enough. Mention should also be made of Peter Knight's magical orchestrations

Sarde's music for the television series Sister Mary Explains It All is predominantly serene, peaceful and gently flowing. If you love the music of Gabriel Fauré you will love this score because Sarde has been clearly influenced by the French composer especially by his Requiem. Childhood innocence, and possibly romance is suggested by the carousel-like figures of 'Innocence'. Nothing terribly dark disturbs the slow melancholy of 'The Serpent' and righteousness mildly asserts itself in 'Redemption'. Familiar hymn tunes, in arrangements by Sarde, are used as source material.

The Manhattan Project's score contrasts harsher, colder mechanical music suggesting a colder world of technology with warmer more sympathetic material in sunnier, high-spirited tracks like 'Ithaca', 'Escape' and 'Plutonium'. There is also another rather nice dreamy love theme. The notes by Marshall Brickman, who directed all three films, relate that, in addition to the standard orchestral instruments, there was a fiendish-looking synthesiser the size of a railroad car played - driven might be a better term - by a diminutive Englishman who lost ten pounds during each recording session merely from darting from one keyboard to another.

An engaging album distinguished by the inclusion of the ravishing Lovesick score that really ought to have been the main feature of its promotion.

Lovesick Sister Mary Manhattan Project

Ian Lace


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