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Friday, January 13, 2006

CD REVIEWS - Two of Six from Cinefonia Records

Thanks to the generosity of Gabriel Yared, I am pleased to be able to bring you reviews of all six of Cinefonia's releases so far of music from the composer's earlier career, starting with the first two volumes and continuing over the course of the next few days.

Gabriel Yared Film Music Vol. 1 - Sauve Qui Peut La Vie/Malevil
Cinefonia CFY-001 (France)
18 Tracks 45:45 mins

The driving force behind this collection is the composer himself and each CD is lovingly produced by the composer in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Arquie, with each attractively packaged edition featuring an informative booklet with the composer's thoughts on each score presented.
Volume 1 features Yared's score for 1980's Sauve qui peut la vie, directed by the great Jean-Luc Godard. Yared's brief was to 'work around' an existing musical subject: four bars drawn from the opening of Act II of Ponchielli's La Giaconda, and the composer drew upon his apprenticeship in classical techniques to come up with a score that did just that, performing the entire score himself on different keyboards, with the help of friends programmer Georges Rodi and sound engineer Claude Sahakian. The results make up the first 9 tracks of this album and, although based on those four bars, are varied and interesting, ranging from light and ethereal to funky and even gothic, with some jazzy motion and even a classical piano variation along the way.
The second score on the album comes from the following year's Malevil, directed by Christian de Chalonge, the story of a group of friends in a small village, who are seemingly the only survivors of a man-made disaster, and their efforts to make a future for themselves.
The then newly-born Fairlight computer-sampler seemed the "ideal tool for creating an entirely new musical universe" and, armed with a variety of sounds, both musical and unusual things such as bird sounds, rain, wind and water drops, and even the composer's own voice, which he used as percussion, Yared proceeded, with the aid of collaborators Georges Rodi and Olivier Bloch-Lane, to come up with this unusual score, which has a marvellously catchy little theme, first heard in Prelude a la pluie, which ends with those bird sounds. This theme makes further appearances throughout the score, especially in Malevil sous la pluie, and is always welcome. The remainder of the score is sometimes desolate and otherworldly, sometimes menacing, but also has its brighter moments and even features something of a comic promenade in Fulbert's Blues. The radio source track Java de Malevil provides a return to normality with its little accordion tune.

Gabriel Yared Film Music Vol.2 - Camille Claudel
Cinefonia Records CFY-002 (France)
14 Tracks 49:46 mins

A personal passion of actress Isabelle Adjani, who portrayed the tragic heroin in this 1988 biopic of the French sculptor, whose passionate relationship with and ultimate separation from the famous Auguste Rodin, resulted in her internment for more than 40 years in an asylum. When Gabiel Yared was asked to score the film, director Bruno Nuytten had temped the film with scores by Bruckner and Britten, and the composer had 7-8 weeks to replace this music with 90 minutes of his own. Sometimes it seems that a composer produces his best work under such pressures and this was certainly the case here, as Yared came up with a simply wonderful accompaniment, predominently for massed strings, with telling contributions from a string quartet and sextet, harp and percussion. The music is passionate, haunting and filled with yearning, and is beautifully played by the London musicians, under the baton of Harry Rabinowitz. A lovely waltz appears in Banquet, with the sextet rounding off proceedings in the two previously unreleased tracks that close the album.
We are especially lucky to have this album in that the original magnetic tapes could not be found, resulting in the composer having to dig deep into his personal archives to come up with the tracks. I am certainly glad he did, as this music certainly deserves to be heard.


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