April 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Piglet's Big Movie  
Music composed by Carl Johnson
Songs by Carly Simon
  Available on WALT DISNEY RECORDS 60081-7
Running Time: 43.11
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piglets big movie

Whatever you youngsters think of Walt Disney's interpretations of A.A. Milne's literary universe, it is difficult to deny the solid musical undercurrent that's existed in the animated film series ever since the Sherman Brothers penned their 'Winnie the Pooh' theme song. Hearing rock icon Carly Simon sing the clever ditty to introduce "Piglet's Big Movie" may disturb 'grown-up' purists, but it is sweet, Simon does well bringing it into her field, and such a beginning is just right for a soundtrack geared toward the young (and young-in-spirit!).

Pooh & friends in the Hundred Acre Wood tell Piglet, the "very small animal" with an inferiority complex, that he is too tiny to assist in their honey harvest. Shortly thereafter, the companions cannot find Piglet, so they turn to his Book of Memories scrapbook as a guide to lead them to him. The search of course brings the recognition that little Piglet can be a big hero.

Simon contributed seven songs to this tale, and performed all but the charming and brief 'The More It Snows (Tiddely-Pom)' featuring Pooh and Piglet. Uniformly simple, straightforward, wholesome, and firmly situated in the plot, these pieces probably have a limited audience. But the melodies are warm & mature, with a few surprises (including a snippet of Mozart) in Carl Johnson's arrangements, and the lyric qualities are breezy: "Can I walk around my shadow once/before it disappears into the sun/run circles around the bees/bring the huffalump to his knees/catch the pollen before the sneeze?" Demo versions of some of the songs also feature on the disc, while the album insert contains all of the words.

Johnson wrote & conducted the 12-minute musical underscore. Now, I know some don't like this sort of thing (there are no lyrics!), but orchestral music is my favourite part of reviewing soundtracks--this is fun stuff, too. There are serious moments accented by soft instrumentals, mainly carried by piano and acoustic guitar; however, Johnson works famously in animated programmes ("Animaniacs"; "Gargoyles"; his Emmy-winning work on "Invasion America"), and he lives up to his reputation by offering symphonic ideas, cartoon flourishes, and solid themes that support and mayhap surpass Simon's song-score. There is a Patrick Doyle influence, recalling Johnson's efforts as an orchestrator on Doyle's "Love's Labour's Lost", without the classical stylishness. I suggest that what matters here is overall effect.

Well, kids... It works for me. Piglet's big soundtrack is nothing the pink pal should feel embarrassed about.

Jeffrey Wheeler

*** 3

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