There are some very clever marketing managers in Naxos's headquarters who are constantly thinking up the next, new compilation 'wheeze' to make as much money out of already recorded music as possible. Best of luck to them, perhaps the profits are being ploughed into their enterprising ‘21st Century Modern Classics’ or 'Japanese Classics'; series which are slower sellers. Anyway here is another compilation.
Quite possibly the idea came from the fact that one of the tracks, the "Pie Jesu" from Fauré's Requiem, in this very recording by Naxos, was used in the film S1mOne. Whatever the case, this anthology takes fifteen classical pieces from the Naxos archive, versions of which have been used on the soundtracks of recent films.
Film however is only a rather weak hook on which to hang a group of unrelated movements from well known classics. However it serves, as with so many of these kinds of disc, as a potentially useful introduction for listeners who are aware of classical music in film and who want to discover more of what they enjoyed at the movies. The disc can act as a vehicle for learning about the music, to make connections and to discover other pieces used. The booklet has a useful format which explains the philosophy behind the presentation.
Let's take the film Hannibal(2001). First we are given a promotional quote "He's a man after your heart". We are given the director and the cast, followed by a succinct and clever resume of the plot. Then we are told the title of the piece we are listening to which is used in the film, in this case Strauss's "Blue Danube" waltz. We are informed that other music used includes the "Aria" from Bach's "Goldberg Variations". Then we are told in what other films this music has been used. We can hear the Strauss in Anywhere But Here (1993) and "The Last Emperor" (1987) as well as ten others that are listed, most famously "2001: A Space Odyssey".
If you are a film buff then this information could be interest. Sadly I am no film buff. In fact I have hardly seen any of the films mentioned in these lists. As a musician I find myself amazed at the diversity of films which have used "The Blue Danube". That also applies to the "Hallelujah Chorus". The famous Handel chorus has it seems been used in Man on the Moon and Runaway Bride (both from 1999). I have seen these films and I am I think ashamed to say that I cannot remember where Handel pops up in either. Oh dear. Is this my fault? Or does it show how anesthetized we have become to background music and soundtracks?
It is unnecessary and inappropriate for me to comment in detail on the performances, but I will just say that all are perfectly acceptable and some like the Haydn quartet movement are very good and beautifully played. The recording quality is fine with no adjustment needed to the volume between the tracks.
See also October's review by Mark Hockley