Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CD REVIEWS - The Essential Michel Legrand Film Music Collection & Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

The Essential Michel Legrand Film Music Collection
The Flemish Radio Orchestra, conducted by the composer
Silva Screen records SILCD1185 (U.K.)
13 Tracks 77:55 mins

Released in collaboration with The Reader's Digest Association, this album differs from previous releases in the "Essential Film Music" series in that, whereas they consisted of largely faithful reproductions of film score themes and suites, this is more like a concert recording in that it features the composer conducting, and at times performing on keyboards, specially arranged suites and themes from his catalogue of film and TV work, resulting in a less than satisfying album for film music purists, but for anyone just wanting to sit back and enjoy an album of beautiful music from one of France's greatest ever screen composers, this is a real treat.
Featured is a fine expanded version of Legrand's famous love theme from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg; a fine jazzy medley, with Legrand at the piano, from another the oft-underrated musical Young Girls of Rochefort; the memorable theme from Summer of 42; a trumpet-lead rendition of the theme from Never say Never Again; a jazzy arrangement, featuring sax of "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" from Best Friends; the famous theme from The Thomas Crown Affair, again with Legrand at the piano; a flute-lead fantasy on the song "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" from The Happy Ending; a pretty faithful suite of themes from The Three Musketeers; the beautiful theme from Wuthering Heights; the inspirational theme from Brian's Song; the trumpet-lead jazz of Dingo; an abolutely gorgeous kind of harp concerto of instrumental versions of the songs from the musical Yentl; and a six-movement suite from The Go-Between, with the composer featured on harpsichord.
This is a concert I would gladly pay to see, perhaps with the addition of one or two omissions. But, unless that day comes, I guess I'll just have to lay back and imagine, while I let the stunning music of Michel Legrand wash over me.

Corpse Bride
Music by Danny Elfman
Warner Sunset/Warner Bros. 9362-49473-2 (EU)
24 Tracks 59:38 mins

Danny Elfman fans have really been spoilt, what with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (see my recent review) and now Corpse Bride, an animation from Tim Burton, very much along the lines of his previous A Nightmare Before Christmas. Both are delightful scores, very much in the old Elfman traditions and I would recommend both to you but, if I had to choose, it would be this one, as virtually every track sparkles.
It's a score very much akin to Nightmare, with quirky songs, featuring Elfman, voice cast and chorus; and magical, yet sometimes dark, instrumentals, performed by orchestra and choir. Sometimes the music is delicate and ethereal, sometimes menacing and suspenseful, and sometimes just plain fun, particularly when the composer employs a big band style.
The album features four bonus source tracks from Bonejangles and his Bone Boys, all great foot-tapping music, providing a most satisfying conclusion to a fine album.


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