Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Michael KAMEN What Dream May Come OST DECCA 460 858-2  



Crotchet (UK)

Sweet-toned (and occasionally nightmarish) music from Michael Kamen. What Dreams May Come is a film of a romantic tale about the afterlife. It stars Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr, Annabella Sciorra and Max Von Sydow.

Kamen has clearly been influenced by Gerald Finzi. Finzi's music has been extremely successful in the USA - perhaps more so than that of Vaughan Williams. Finzi's Introit, Eclogue and New Year Music are distinctly echoed in many of the tracks. Listen to track 2 for example. You can also catch the occasional reminiscence of Edmund Rubbra's style in the slowly unfolding mystery of many of the cues.

The rise and leisurely fall of the big theme is a footstep away from Basil Poledouris's Lonesome Dove music. it also catches the spirit of revivalist hymns sung in sepia-toned hues by the oboe. There are also some similarities with Nyman's music for The Piano.

The Eclogue atmosphere of track 2 is mixed with `Indian spirits' music rising to a clangorous and fearsome climax (like something from a symphony by Allan Pettersson). At 4:28 the solo flute evokes birds flying out of some nightmare into someone's dream. The steadily creeping magic of this section of the score is quite striking. It is like a slow motion film of a flower unfolding. This pacing carries over into track 3 with an easeful sense of release; answer and question; echo and sound.

Track 4 burst onto the scene with `Pines of Rome' freshness. Respighi in full sunlit glory. This is contrasted with a much quieter track [5] with a sombre sad song in keeping with Fauré's Ballade for piano and orchestra. The next track is a whisper-quiet harp dance like the harp concerto by Boieldieu. As a total contrast track 7 (In Hell) is all discord and cross-currents - a modernised whirling blast furnace comparable with Tchaikovsky's Francesca Da Rimini. It however strikes me as rather repetitive. Kamen next triumphs gloriously in track 8 with all the stops pulled out and French horns in full-burnished glory (1:20). Tracks 9-11 are moodily undulating music substantially recalling earlier tracks.

The final track [12] has Mick Hucknall sensitively singing `Beside you'. While the music matches the spirit of the soundtrack, the words fall short of the music and of the singing.

Largely a very pleasant souvenir album but in tracks 1, 2 and 8 Kamen offers music of remarkably fresh imagination and occasionally glorious sweep.


Rob Barnett

And Paul Tonks thinks:-

Understandably, Kamen states that he responded to this film as a family man; the idea of not getting to say 'goodbye' properly to a loved one. In many ways, this is also true of one of his earliest scores for The Dead Zone. The idea of such a personal loss is hard to deal with. As a musician required to express that, you are going to be visiting some unpleasant places in order to draw it out. For What Dreams May Come, it sounds like he travelled to the very extremes. This is a very large score in every sense appropriate. It contains the most beautiful passages I have heard from him as well as some of the very darkest. This will most certainly become a part of his concert repertoire.

Densely orchestrated throughout, what most impresses is how the by now familiar Kamen sound always sounds best at its grandest. In recent years, only Mr Holland's Opus has given him the full-blooded opportunity to write large scale. 101 Dalmatians was mostly too kiddie, Jack was mostly too intimate a film, and Event Horizon was frankly a lost score (although the album does show that something quite decent was struggling to be heard). The scale of most of this album pretty much dwarves all these others however.

With the sense of size (overly) impressed upon you, the nitty gritty is that through the hour's length a close study reveals more subtlety than a first listen suggests. Alongside the dazzling sounds for dazzling visuals are gorgeous passages of underscore. Every cue is of generous length, and none sustain one mood for very long, so we will have to make do with a here and there approach. Guitar is a dominant instrument for the introspective remembrances, and opens "When I Was Young " as well as "Seas Of Faces". The regular Kamen harp offers the occasional glissando, and there's always his penchant for piano proving itself the most affecting of all ("Longing"). Flute and oboe both vie for sweetest solo at various stages.

I have to carp on about the bombast though. This is a movie about death after all, and in visiting Hell you have to expect a thunderous approach (unless you're Bill & Ted). "In Hell" is absolutely furious at the off, with an explosiveness of Herrmannesque proportions. There is something of the grand OTT style from Baron Münchausen here. Earlier in "Children's Melody", the lullaby gives way to heavy drum rolls and a sustained cymbal crescendo. It is that seaward sensation of moving up and down that carries everything along. There is never respite in the softer passages - after a while you know a passionate flourish is due.

So in all - thank goodness for the large canvass style picture. Someone like Kamen absolutely thrives in its environment. The catch ? That would be the "Beside You" finale if you don't happen to be a Mick Hucknall fan. The Kamen + artist + guitar approach is becoming almost predictable now. At least this one's a change from Bryan Adams...


Paul Tonks


Paul Tonks

Rob Barnett

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