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Thursday, November 23, 2006

CD REVIEWS - The Page Turner & Children of Men

The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de Pages)
Music by Jerome Lemonnier
Colosseum CST 8114 (EU)
15 Tracks 62:26 mins

A young pianist fails her entrance exam to the Conservatory, and ten years later finds herself with the opportunity to gain her revenge on the woman she holds responsible. This is roughly the plot to this French film, which was an official Cannes Festival entry.
The score is written and performed by a new name to me, Jerome Lemonnier, whose efforts make up the shorter tracks on this album, the longer ones being given over to performances of pieces by Shostakovich and Schubert, with Bach also being represented.
Lemonnier's score is by and large suitably piano-lead, and covers many moods, the opening track "Le Mirror des Choses" reflecting this, starting out with purposeful piano, then tragic strings, then a mysterious passage for piano and violin, ending with lighter fare for piano and orchestra. It's singly the most enjoyable piece on the album. "Generique" introduces the strange and mysterious main theme, which returns to close affairs in "Diner D'Adieu." In between there is music of similar mystery and sadness, with some dissonance, but also the odd pleasant moment. Sometimes Lemonnier's piano plays unaccompanied, but at others it receives mostly stringed support. Yes, this is definitely one for fans of the piano, but its often classical nature didn't really involve me, I'm afraid.

Children of Men
Music by John Tavener
Varese Sarabande VSD 6769 (EU)
9 Tracks 70:32 mins

This bleak vision of the future, starring Clive Owen, a future where infertility threatens to wipe out the human race, is possibly the first film score proper by John Tavener, although his music has I believe featured in films before. At least I think its an original score, but the stand-alone nature of the tracks on the album do leave cause to wonder if they were written away from the film and then tracked in. I don't really know enough about Tavener's music to say.
Six of the nine tracks feature music by Tavener, the remainder are pieces by Handel, Ruckert and Penderecki. Most of the tracks are long and all of Tavener's are of the serious, religious inclination. "Fragments of a Prayer" opens and is something of an overlong requiem, featuring soprano and orchestra. Unfortunately, working from a promo copy of the disc, I am unable to give credit to the unnamed vocalist. "Eternity's Sunrise" follows, again with soprano, a sparse affair that promises much, but only delivers in short bursts towards the end. "Song of the Angel" is pretty much as it sounds, with soprano again featuring. "The Lamb" is a strings-only variation on the same theme, whilst "Mother and Child" largely features a capella choir, but with church organ making an occasional appearance. The final Tavener track, which also closes the album, "Mother of God, Here I Stand" is another religious, strings-only track.
If you like religious music, you'll probably go for this one, but I found the tone of the whole score somewhat depressing, which undoubtedly suits the bleakness of the film's premise.


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