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Thursday, October 25, 2007

CD REVIEWS - AS YOU LIKE IT & IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH + News from Screen Archives Entertainment

As You Like It
Music by Patrick Doyle
Varese Sarabande VSD-6830 (EU)
19 tracks 59:26 mins

Patrick Doyle's latest Shakespearean collaboration with Kenneth Branagh is a Japan-set adaptation of As You Like It, and as such Doyle provides something of an Oriental flavour, utilising flutes and koto, along with more conventional orchestra (The LSO), and featuring some exquisite violin solos from Carmine Lauri. Indeed, in his liner notes, Doyle talks of adapting the main thematic material, presented in the final track "Violin Romance" for a forthcoming violin concerto.
This is one of those albums that starts off OK, with variations on the main theme, first heard of flute in the opening "Kabuki Attack," cropping up on a pretty regular basis, amongst the dramatic scoring, which is pretty varied, from some lightly comedic material, hints of romance and some action and resulting tragedy, but then takes a turn for the better when the main theme really takes over from track 13 "Fake Wedding" and the violin comes into its own, leading the orchestra through most of the remaining tracks and culminating in the aforementioned concluding track.
Along the way, Doyle gets the chance to show his vocal prowess, singing a couple of original Shakespeare lyrics, and there is also a joyous choral, "A Lover & His Lass," where many of the cast leant there vocal talents.
Along with Doyle's aforementioned notes, Branagh also provides a note on the score, and there are plenty of colour stills in the accompanying booklet as well.
Patrick Doyle continues to show that he is one of the best composers in contemporary film.

In The Valley of Elah
Music by Mark Isham
Varese Sarabande VSD 6853 (EU)
18 Tracks 46:16 mins

Having collaborated so successfully on the acclaimed Crash, composer Isham and director Paul Haggis have a new film out, which is one of a numebr of pictures appearing that deal with the current Middle-East troubles.
For Crash, Isham provided an effective, electronic score, which played a major part in the film, but which I found less than satisfying to listen to on disc. It may well be the same case here, for I found the music for In The Valley of Elah a pretty dull and gloomy listen overall, with just a few bright moments.
Rather than go solely for electronics again, whilst they are present, he largely writes for chamber orchestra, as well as featuring guitar, mandolin, ukele and piano. It is however the former that dominate, with much heartfelt string writing, but they largely move me, save for the odd passionate moment.
Only two tracks really stand out for me, the purposeful strings of "Bobby Ortiz," which move excitingly to a crescendo, and the final cue "Upside Down," which actually leaves one on an untypically hopeful note.
I'm sure, when I finally get to see the film, Isham well have done his usual capable job with this music, but I don't expect to be returning to this album much in the future.


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