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Friday, December 29, 2006

CD REVIEW - Casino Royale

Casino Royale
Music by David Arnold
Sony Classical 88697029112 (EU)
25 Tracks 74:20 mins

I haven't seen this re-imagining of the Bond franchise, and, despite its box office success and critical acclaim, I find the concept of basically forgetting everything that has come before a little hard to take. I mean, I enjoyed the girls, glitz and gadgets of the previous Bond movies, and therefore a stripped-down Bond will I imagine take some getting to grips with.
As for the music, well, again I very much enjoyed what David Arnold was doing, generously nodding towards the John Barry sound, whilst infusing his music with a modern sensibility.
For Casino Royale, Arnold is, thankfully, still on board, but he has obviously had to tone down these modern sensibilities so that, whilst electronics are still present, they are much more subtly used. The result is an enjoyable score still, but not so consistently entertaining as his previous Bond scores.
There are still some exciting action sequences like the opening "African Rundown," which mixes jungle rhythms with variations on the new Bond theme, a brassy, four-note motif, based on the song "You Know My Name," which is strangely absent from the album - the first time a Bond film song has been excluded from the soundtrack album. The other key action sequences are "Miami International," "Stairwell Fight" and "The switch," all of them generating some excitement.
There are also romantic, Barryish pieces for the two women who cross our hero's path - an airy string theme for "Solange" and piano and strings romance for "Vesper" - later reprised, suitably sadly for "Death of Vesper."
Much of the rest consists of largely mysterious and suspenseful scoring, though there are one or two Barryish scene-setting moments.
As the film deals with the origins of the Bond as we know him, the decision was taken to exclude Monty Norman's famous theme from the early parts of the score, though it is hinted at increasingly as it progresses, sometimes in tandem with the main theme. It is not until the end that the theme bursts forth gloriously in "The Name's Bond... James Bond."
It's great to have so much of the score on this generous disc, but if you're still not satisfied, you can supplement it with the rest that didn't make the CD by purchasing it from iTunes. As for the song, well I expect that it widely available to buy on CD or download.


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