March 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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David NEWMAN
The Affair of the Necklace  
  OST
  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6318   [41:09]

Affair of the Necklace

How disappointing that the quality once associated with the name Newman, has given way to the mediocrity now manifesting itself from the current Newman generation. Thomas Newman, whose The Horse Whisperer score showed such promise, now simply regurgitates his American Beauty arcane minimalism in In the Bedroom, (see the review on this site this month) and David Newman just comes up with so many of today’s film music clichés in this score.

For The Affair of the Necklace we have a pale, lack-lustre theme that tries hard to be poignant. This, ‘Jeanne’s Theme’ is treated with variable success through the score, mostly retaining its rather wearisome coy plaintiveness through variations both secular and liturgical. There are other clichés too: the piano meanderings (often incongruously mixed with harpsichord figures for ‘period atmosphere’), and a quaint whiff of the Gaelic (especially with the use of what I perceived to be low Irish pipes at one or two points) rather than Gallic. Then there are those overworked female vocal wailings, not to mention a touch of the Lisa Gerrard’s in Gladiator mode; and how can one explain those splashes of Arabian colour in pre-Revolutionary France?

The only saving grace is an occasional inspired bit of Baroque pastiche like ‘On the Lake’ that just about makes this otherwise turgid album anything like a listenable experience.

Ian Lace

**(*)

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