The collection commences with Petit's Academy Award nominated score for the
1990 French version of Cyrano de Bergerac with Gérard Depardieu
brilliantly cast as the long-nosed poet, shy but hot-tempered and a brilliant
swordsman. Three short excerpts include the poetic, romantic 'Closing Titles'
music full of pathos, and thwarted romance before the music becomes proud and
strident to speak of Cyrano's defiance and heroics. 'Les Lustres' is elegant
music for the gathering of gentlemen and actors in the theatre at the beginning
of the film while 'La Lanterne Magique' is an amusing and colourful evocation
'mickey-mousing' the magic lantern show, rather like an 18th century
hurdy-gurdy, as the crowds press into the theatre.
Also celebrated is the music Petit wrote for Jean de Florette and its
sequel Manon des Sources. For the former, we hear the main themes
including the unforgettable mournful harmonica theme based on Verdi's La
Forza del Destino. But beyond this Petit's music perfectly captures the
sun-drenched, parched landscape of Provence and the brooding claustrophobic
atmosphere of Claude Berris's tragic masterpieces. The Manon des Sources
music has figures full of grotesque irony for the hapless Ugolin, the ugly,
luckless victim of Manon's revenge. But the music also has the shimmer of sun
on water and a sympathetic voice of pathos.
An unusual voice, an oddly muted trumpet, almost is used almost tongue-in-cheek
mockingly to counter the heroic music for Le retour des mousquetaires.
This is a fun score – exciting thrusting and, extraordinarily, in part, sporting
heroic figures sounding quite Elgarian. And Petit's period pastiche music goes
with a real swing – Jordi Savall eat your heart out!
More complex is the intensely emotional 'Main Titles' music epitomising Lady
Chatterley's craving for love. Her yearning is palpable.
Uranus (1990) is set in a small French provincial town just after the
War and involves a former collaborator now sought by Communist activists. Petit
uses a small chamber group for the introspective 'Main Titles' while expanded
forces underscore 'Dire qu'il a fallu' for music that is clearly umpah-umpah
Deux (1988) is spellbinding and clearly struck a chord for Petit. The
film is about a composer and concert organiser who wishes to buy the house his
master used to occupy in Montmartre. The music seems to imply that the house
is haunted but that the spirits are friendly. This spectral, lovely music, beautifully
lyrical is worth the price of the album alone. One of those scores that stick
in one's mind long after the last bar has sounded.
The peculiarly, if not alarmingly, named Fucking Fernand (1987) is
a film about the incredible adventures of Fernand who is fabulously rich but
blind and has been committed to a mental institution and Antoine a butcher who
has been sentenced to prison for life – both of them are liberated when the
city is bombed. Petit's score features a solo piano at the beginning as though
extemporising. The music meanders forward disconsolately, seemingly aimlessly
through the Main Titles before we experience a complete change of mood and we
are thrust into a bizarre sort of landscape usually associated with Danny Elfman
- hurdy gurdy fairground music with spoons. An old-fashioned, very French style
song, 'Non, non Monsieur' brings this score and an outstanding album covering
a wide variety of styles to an amiable conclusion.
For the adventurous, whole-heartedly recommended.