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

Saturday, April 15, 2006

CD REVIEW - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Music by Philippe Rombi
Virgin Classics 0946 341978 2 3 (EU)
21 Tracks 73:15 mins

Whilst Alexandre Desplat has recently made significant inroads into the Hollywood mainstream, another composer hailing from France has yet to make that breakthrough, yet, in my humble opinion, is equally deserving of acclaim. He is Philippe Rombi and I have enjoyed almost everything I have heard of his thus far. His music for this re-telling of the famous events of Christmas Eve 1914 is perhaps his most mature work yet, proving, like Gabriel Yared did with Troy, that he is capable of composing weighty music with the best of them, whilst still displaying his usual gift for melody.
This substantial album commences with the composer's "Ave Maria," beautifully performed by soprano Natalie Dessay, with the piece repeated in a moving arrangement for Carmine Lauri's violin and orchestra as the penultimate track.
The "Overture" first introduces Rombi's weighty main theme for strings, which reaches a powerful crescendo in "War."
Rombi's most melodious contribution to the score is his "Fraternizers Hymn," which is first heard as a piano solo, and then repeated for piano and orchestra in "Football Match." "Invitations" brings a martial arrangement to the theme, before the track is given over to the voices of the soldiers and the pipes from the film's soundtrack; but its best representations are where it is first movingly sung by the Chorale Scala, with Ms Dessay adding wordless support; and then closes the album, with the same choral forces giving it a wordless reprise.
Along the way there are poignant and bittersweet moments like "Anna and Nikolaus," "Ponchel's Memories" and "The Soldiers' Mail;" with "Soldiers' Burial" starting off as a bagpipe lament, before gaining support from the orchestra.
Supplementing Rombi's original score are his arrangements of "Silent Night" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful," performed in German by tenor Rolando Villazon, with both soloists combining on "Bist du bei Mir."
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills from the film, a synopsis, a note from director Christian Carion, profiles of the composer and both vocal artistes, plus Rombi's brief notes on his music for the film. A classy package for an equally classy score, and one that will hopeful make Hollywood sit up and take note.


Post a Comment

<< Home