by | Mar 1, 2005 | Special Features | 0 comments


We’ll kick off this post-Oscar survey of film music with a number of recent feature films, then into some compendiums of work from single film composers, and end with a couple of discs more into the Broadway show genre.

Sky Capt. soundtrackSKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW – Music composed and conducted by Edward Shearmur – orig. soundtrack – Sony Music Soundtrax SK 92932 {See our DVD review Here}:

If you have any interest in film history and sets you really must see this fun film. It is the first in which nearly the entire environment around the actors was entirely created in cgi computer graphics – the performers merely doing their thing against blue screen with a couple of props. The visuals are a pean to art deco, the old Saturday movie serials, and several specific artists’ styles. I mean, how often do you get Zeppelins, rocketships, flying wings, giant robots and dinosaurs all in the same movie, I ask you? The music also honors the fantasy-evoking sounds of the same historical period. It may not be worthy of standalone concert hall status, but it beautifully fills the bill in the theater. Just glance at this list of cues and you’ll get a good idea what I’m talking about. By the way, the DVD is worth getting just for the many extras about how the film was made – and by a first-time director who started out with a 6-minute demo done in his bedroom on his Mac!

Cues: The World of Tomorrow, The Zeppelin Arrives, The Robot Army, Calling Sky Captain, Back at the Base, The Flying Wings Attack, An Aquatic Escape, Flight to Nepal, Treacherous Journey, Dynamite, Three in a Bed, Finding Frankie, Manta Squadron, h-770-d, Flying Lizard, Totenkopf’s Ark, Back to Earth, Over the Rainbow (with Jane Monheit)

Jack Johnson scoreUNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS – The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson – A Ken Burns film, original score by Wynton Marsalis – Blue Note/EMI 64194:

The latest PBS series from Burns was a serious and fascinating study of a man of supreme athletic achievement who got into trouble trying to live the life of a free man, but couldn’t because of his race and the time in which he lived. Johnson loved music and traveled with a big Victrola and string bass. Marsalis’ score is based on the blues but brings in a variety of music of the period – ragtime, novelty songs, vaudeville. Several hit tunes of the time are heard in the score, which is very listenable without the images. Marsalis’ holds back on his big solos in favor of letting the band do their thing to support the visuals and narration.

Cues: What Have You Done:, Ghost in the House, Jack Johnson Two-Step, But Deep Down, Love & Hate, High Society, Careless Love, New Orleans Bump, Trouble My Soul, Deep Creek, The Johnson 2-Step, Rattlesnake Tail Swing, Weary Blues, Troubles My Soul, Johnson Two-Step, Fire in the Night, Morning Song, I’ll Sing My Song, Buddy Bolden’s Blues, The Last Bell, We’ll Meet Again Someday.

Barcelona in 48 HoursBARCELONA IN 48 HOURS – Music by Edward Ratliff with Rhapsodalia and friends – Strudelmedia C0008:

Perhaps this should be in our Jazz section, because the music is the score for a short film that has not been widely seen anywhere in the U.S. It centers on a choreographer, teacher and dancer and is both an impressionistic portrait of the dance artist and a meditation on movement – though it is constructed almost entirely out of black and white still photos.

This is not your typical jazz ensemble – the players include accordion, celeste, and dumbek, with several of the solos being taken by leader and cornetist Ratliff. Nice stuff; I’d like to see the film now…

Tracks: Barcelona, BCN, Glass, Barcelona, Horsey, Mies, Barcelona, Estacio de Franca, Night Dance, Barcelona, Sintuba.

The VillageTHE VILLAGE – Music by James Newton Howard, featuring Hilary Hahn, violin and the Hollywood Studio Symphony – Hollywood Records 2061-62464-2:

There are some electronic cues in this score but it is somewhat unusual nowadays for most of a film score to be played by a full symphony orchestra such as this one. I haven’t seen the film but undoubtedly the score has a major role in supporting the eeriness of the film’s environment and story. I don’t think it stands up especially well by itself but it is interesting listening nevertheless.

Tracks: Noah Visits, What Are You Asking Me?, The Bad Color, Those We Don’t Speak Of, Will You Help Me?, I cannot See His Color, Rituals, The Gravel Road, Race to Resting Rock, The Forbidden Line, The Vote, It Is Not Real, The Shed Not To Be Used.

The IncrediblesTHE INCREDIBLES – Music by Michael Giacchino – Disney Records 61100-7:

Pixar just keeps turning out one terrific computer animation project after another and their recent feature retains the success and broad appeal of everything before. (And the Motion Picture Academy recognized that.) The plot concerning a family of superheros who for various reasons must keep their powers under cover and act like normal people opens up all sort of hilarious possibilities. The celebrity voices of the characters are perfect, as is the music of Giacchino – for the film. Unfortunately, it fails to stand on its own because it is a cornball mishmash parody of James Bond music and will soon get on the nerves of even Bond fanatics.

Cues: The Lory Days, Mr. Huph Will See You Now, Adventure Calling, Bob vs. the Omnidroid, Lava in the Afternoon, Life’s Incredible Again, Off to Work, New and Improved, Kronos Unveiled, Marital Rescue, Missile Lock, Lithe or Death, 100 Miles Dash, A Whole Family of Supers, Escaping Nomanisan, Road Trip!, Saving Metroville, The New Babysitter, The Incredits.

The Motorcycle DiariesTHE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES – Original Sound composed by Gustavo Santaolalla – Edge UMG Soundtracks B0003294-02:

This dramatization of a motorcycle trip made by the young Che Guevara in l952 from Buenos Aires to the northern part of South America is a magnificent motion picture. The soundtrack is performed by a small ensemble heavily slanted toward typical South American instruments. Santaolalla himself performs on guitars, guitarron, ronroco, and charango as well as vibes, percussion, pipes, flutes and bass. The melodic material often sounds like actual folk music but is probably mostly original material created in the folk style. It was an excellent fit to the screen images but also stands alone well as enjoyable world music, mostly instrumental. The hit song from the score got a lot of musical attention at the Oscars ceremony. (I won’t bother listing the 23 cues because they are all in Spanish and not translated.)

Finding NeverlandFINDING NEVERLAND – Original soundtrack composed by Jan A.P. Kacznarek – Decca UMG Soundtracks B0003429-02:

Never mind that Neverland just got an Oscar for best film score, It didn’t quite score with me. Writing in the style of classical chamber music of the period, Kacznarek features a symphony orchestra with solo violin, piano, guitar and mandolin plus an “ethnic flute” soloist and a school choir. The standout material are the piano solos improvised by Leszek Mozdzer used some of Kacznarek’s themes, remaining pretty much in a late 19th century style but also sounding quite modern at times. Mozdzer loves the higher registers of the piano which seems to fit the lighthearted story about the creation of Peter Pan, but get a bit wearing after many repetitions. Also the main theme, as in many film scores, is varied to death – probably fine for accompanying the actual film, but without the film causing one to long for some nice varied Philip Glass music…Also, with today’s high degree of attention being paid to child molestation, I’m sorry to say it is difficult to quell an uneasy feeling about an adult being so attracted to someone else’s children – no matter the innocence or period setting of the film.

Cues: What is Mr. Barrie?, The Park, Dancing with the Bear, The Kite, The Chess, Neverland – Piano Variation in Blue, The Spoon on the Nose, The Pirates, The Marriage, Children Arrive, Drive to the Cottage, The Peter Pan Overture, Peter, The Park on Piano, The Stairs, Impossible Opening, The Rehearsal, Neverland – Minor Piano Variation, The Play and the Flight, This is Neverland, Why Does She Have to Die?, Another Bear, Forgotten Overture.

Let’s Do Chinese, eh?…
Hero & Daggers

HERO – Original Soundtrack Music composed by Tan Dun; Violin Solos by Itzhak Perlman; China Philharmonic Orch. & Chorus/Ancient Rao Ensemble/Tan Dun – Sony Classical Music Soundtrax SK 87726:

This superb Jet Lei vehicle was a fine followup in the Chinese sword & choreography genre to the acclaimed Crouching Tiger. Dun is probably the No. 1 name in Chinese-American music today and he has fashioned an interesting score that supports the visuals amazingly well, yet stands alone successfully as a Western/Eastern mix of wide appeal. I am reminded of the several scores in the late 60s and early 70s, often by Ravi Shankar, which blended East Indian classical music and the Western idiom. My Chinese tube amps seemed to be especially happy with the string tones of the orchestra and particularly soloist Perlman. Though this is not an SACD, the violin tone was just as pleasing and non-digital as heard on most hi-res discs.

Cues: Hero Overture, For the World (Theme Music), Warriors, Gone with Leaves, Longing, At Emperor’s Palace, In the Chess Court, Love in Distance, Spirit Fight, Swift Sword, Farewell Hero, Sorrow in Desert, Home, Above Water, Snow, Yearning for the Peace.

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Shigeru Umebayashi; Various ensembles in Beijing & Tokyo; Soprano Kathleen Battle – Sony Classical Soundtracx SK 93561:

Now we’re in Column B. Haven’t seen it yet but understand it’s entertaining but not as good as Crouching Tiger and Hero. The music is more like movie music than the Dun score for Hero, although the two songs are a nice touch – the first involving a Chinese singer and the end-title music featuring Kathleen Battle. Again, some spectacular sounds to accompany some spectacular scenes, but arranged in such a fashion that Western ears won’t be confounded by Chinese Opera-type sounds. Some of the percussion bits are varied, distinctive and certainly demo quality.

Cues: Opening Titles, Beauty Song, The Echo Game, The Peonyhouse, Battle in the Forest, Taking her Hand, Leo’s Eyes, Lovers (Flower Garden), No Way Out, Lovers, Farewell No. 1, Bamboo Forest, Ambush in Ten Directions, Leo’s Theme, Mei and Leo, The House of Flying Daggers, Lovers (Mei and Jin), Farewell No. 2, Until the End, Lovers (Title Song).

Chorus & Weeping Meadow CDs
THE CHORUS – Original Music from the Film; composed and orchestrated by Bruno Coulais; Les Petits Chanteurs de St.-Marc Choir/Bulgarian Sym. Orch./Deyan Pavlov; Verez & Faricier, pianos – Nonesuch 61741-2:

The French film concerns the efforts of a schoolmaster in a small town to get a class of problem boys to toe the line by developing their musical skills in a chorus. The boys’ school story was done better in Malle’s Au Revoir Les Enfants. Nearly all of the 21 cues are choral pieces by Coulais, plus one work of Rameau. They are evocative of arrangements of French folk music or of works by various French choral composers. Translations are included in the booklet but they are lovely to hear just as music.

Cues: Les Choristes, In Memoriam, Arrival at the School, Pepinot, Vois sur ton Chemin, Les Partitions, Caresse sur l’Ocean, Lueur d’Ete, Cerf-Volant, Sous la Pluie, Compere Guilleri, La Desillusion, La Nuit, L’Incendie, L’Evocation, Les Avions en Papier, Action Reaction, Seuls, Morhange, In Memoriam A Cappella, Nous sommes de Fond de l’Etang.

THE WEEPING MEADOW Trilogy I – Music by Eleni Karaindrou for the film by Theo Angelopoulos. Soloists incl. Karaindrou, piano/Hellenic vocal ens./La Camerata Athens string orchestra – ECM New Series ECM 1885:

The Greek filmmaker who directed Ulysses’ Gaze and other similar films has again brought us some amazing images as preserved in the stills accompanying this CD. The story concerns uprooted peoples in Eastern Europe. The score is again by the woman composer who has distinguished herself with several other previous scores for the director. This music is full of nostalgia, resignation and sadness, but it is beautiful and stands alone as a series of glorious short works closely connected in mood and tone. The soloists include harp, cello, accordion, lyre, French horn, violin and doublebass. The particular instruments heard in each of the 16 cues are identified in the note booklet.

Cues: The Weeping Meadow, Theme of the Uprooting I, Waiting I, Memories, The Tree, Young Man’s Theme I, The Weeping Meadow I, Theme of the Uprooting II, Waiting II, Theme of the Uprooting, Prayer, The Tree, On the Road, Young Man’s Theme, Theme of the Uprooting III, The Weeping Meadow II.

A pair of Philip Glass film scores now…

The HoursTHE HOURS – Music by Philip Glass; Michael Riesman, piano – Orange Mountain Music 0012:

This is not the original soundtrack album and it has an interesting origin. Pianist and often leader of the Glass Ensemble Riesman was heavily involved in the original orchestral scoring. As a result of interest in the soundtrack he arrangement a three-movement piano concerto from themes in the film score. Glass’ publisher wanted him to transcribe a book of arrangements for solo piano from the music and this is the result – all 14 cues from the original soundtrack now in solo piano guise. The music has a bit more variety and emotional communication than much of Glass’ past work, and has proved very popular with audiences.

Cues: The Poet Acts, Morning Passages, Something She Has to Do, For Your Own Benefit, Vanessa and the Changelings, I’m Going to Make a Cake, An Unwelcome Friend, Dead Things, The Kiss, Why Does Someone Have to Die?, Tearing Herself Away, Escape!, Choosing Life, The Hours.

Undertow - Philip GlassThe Music of UNDERTOW – Philip Glass – Conducted by Michael Riesman, Brooklyn Youth Chorus/Adam Plack, didgeridoo – Orange Mountain Music 0016:

This dramatic thriller takes place in the American South and deals with violent legacies between two generations of brothers. The setting is the swamps of Georgia. The score combines a string section, children’s voices and the digeridoo – which comes in handy for the threatening/suspenseful sections of the story. Probably not one of Glass’ top efforts but worthwhile listening nevertheless.

Cues: The Kiss, Car Ride, The Chase, The Family, Chris & The Model Airplane, The Argument, Deel’s Song, Golden Coins, Running Away, Throught the Woods, Backwoods Couple, Shipyard, Junkyard, Abandoned Factory, The Ending.

Two BrothersTWO BROTHERS – Music composed by Stephen Warbeck – Decca B0002556-02:

You don’t find many movies starring two tigers. Warbeck has assembled a small ensemble for his score including Chinese pipa, flutes, xylophone and other percussion, various brass and woodwinds, guitars and banjos, accordion and bagpipes. One track is an aria from Verdi’s La forza del destino with Ezio Pinza; not having seen the film I have no idea how that fits in. There’s a variety of typical movie cue music; nothing earthshaking but from the stills I certainly want to see the movie.

The Two Brothers, In the Forest, The Search for Kumal, The Raft, La Vergine Degli Angeli, Aidan & Kumal, Chasing the Truck, The Hunt, The Tiger Broken, Goodnight Story, Havoc, Sangha the Outcast, Aidan & Raoul, Recognition, Kumal & Sangha, Through the Flames, To Freedom, Return to the River, Goodbye.

Vanity FairVANITY FAIR – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Mychael Danna featuring Philharmonia Orchestra, incl. performances by Sissel, Custer LaRue, Hakim, Shankar Mahadevan – Decca B0003076-02:

The filmic treatment of the Thackary novel uses a variety of salon music of the period plus some orchestral filler. I didn’t see the film and don’t plan to. The music sounds like a mishmash of material without connection. Don’t plan to audition it again.

She Walks in Beauty, Exchange, Becky and Amelia, The Great Adventurer, Becky Arrives at Queen’s Crawley, Andante, No Lights After Eleven, Adagio, I’ve Made Up My Mind, Ride to London, Beck and Rawdon Kiss, Sir Pitt’s Marriage Proposal, I Owe You Nothing, Piano for Amelia, Time to Quit Brussels, Waterloo Battlefield, Amelia Refuses Dobbin, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, Steyne the Pasha, El Salaam, The Virtue Betrayed, Rawdon’s End, Dobbin Leaves Amelia, Vanity’s Conqueror, Gori Re.

The TerminalTHE TERMINAL – Music composed and conducted by John Williams; Emily Bernstein, clarinet – Decca B0002924-02:

A delightful score by Williams for a delightful film from Spielberg. My usual Williams-knocking will be put on the waiting list for this musical flight. It’s the touching tale of the first befuddled but quickly very resourceful Victor Navorski, who has arrived at the NYC airline terminal just at the moment his Eastern European country has temporarily ceased to be recognized and he cannot leave the terminal. The original theme Williams has come up sounds like an authentic folk theme from Eastern Europe and works well for all sorts of variations and different orchestral guises. Clarinetist Bernstein is the versatile soloist on clarinet. The theme for the love story involving the stewardess is also memorable. It’s all done with greatest simplicity and never descends into corny sentimentality. The most “up” score Williams has come up with in some time. Very listenable, and if you haven’t seen the film, see it.

Cues: The Tale of Viktor Navorski, Dinner with Amelia, A Legend is Born, Viktor and his Friends, The Fountain Scene, The Wedding of Officer Torres, Jazz Autographs, Refusing to Escape, Krakozhia National Anthem and Homesickness, Looking for Work, Gupta’s Deliverance, Finding Coins and Learning to Read, Destiny/Canneloni/And The Tale of Viktor Navorski Reprise, A Happy Navorski Ending!

Door in the FloorTHE DOOR IN THE FLOOR – Original Music composed by Marcelo Zarvos – Decca B0002708-02:

Lots of nice writing for string orchestra which probably works really well with the screen images – wouldn’t know for certain since I haven’t seen it. From the cue titles appears to be about a hero with a drinking problem. Unfortunately little music of standalone value. Mostly for those who see and love the film and will want to remember it musically.

Cues: Main Titles, Ted and Marion, The Pawn, A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make a Sound, The Kuleshov Effect, Gin Lane I & II, Marion Leaving, The Leg, Orient Point, Eduardo Gets Fired, Summer Job, The Door in the Floor, An Entertainer of Children, Ruth and her Brothers, Reprise, Down the Hatch.

Ron Goodwin film musicTHE FILM MUSIC OF RON GOODWIN – BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba – Chandos Movies CHAN 10262:

The extensive Chandos film music series continues with a focus on a busy musical voice in the UK for many years, who just passed away in 2003. Goodwin’s name first came to my notice as music director for The Goon Show – that BBC radio craziness which gave birth to Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan among others. Chandos’ CEO worked with Ron Goodwin for a decade orchestrating the composer’s film scores including many in this collection. He mentions in his notes how the music was always the last thing to be done on a film project and it was always demanded to be served up immediately on impossible deadlines. (My personal experience seconds that.)

Goodwin was not exactly a Bernard Hermann but he scored a whole series of different films with tuneful and supportive music and it’s great to hear these 23 cues performed by a major symphony orchestra in top-quality sonics. Several are stories of WWII from the British point of view and some – such as Those Magnificent Men – were big international productions. I discovered a couple films I am now very interested in seeing. I had no idea there was a British version of Beauty and the Beast – starring George C. Scott. Or that by favorite comedy duo of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook did a comedy together titled Monte Carlo or Bust.

Cues: 633 Squadron: Main theme & Love theme, Frenzy: London theme, Lancelot and Guinevere: main theme, Deadly Strangers: main theme, Battle of Britain Suite, Whirlpool: main theme, The Trap: main theme, Of Human Bondage: main theme, Monte Carlo or Bust Suite, Submarine X-1: main theme, Miss Marple Theme, Operation Crossbow: main theme, Clash of Loyalties Suite, Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s love theme, Force Ten From Navarone: main theme, Where Eagles Dare: main theme, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines: selection.

YO-YO MA PLAYS ENNIO MORRICONE – Yo-Yo Ma, cello/Roma Sinfonietta Orch./Ennio Morricone – Sony Classical SK 93456 CD:

[For a review of the DualDisc version of this album, see the top of our Hi-Res Review section this month.] Selections: The Mission: 2 cues; Giuseppe Tornatore Suite; Sergio Leone Suite; Brian de Palma Suite: 2 cues; Moses and Marco Polo Suite; The Lady Caliph: 2 cues.

Film Music by SakamotoRYUICHI SAKAMOTO FILM MUSIC – Chitose Okashiro, piano – Music from Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Sheltering Sky, The Last Emperor, High Heels, and 4 other piano solos – ProPiano Records PPR224533:

This is the 7th release for this label by the extraordinary Japanese pianist whose Scriabin transcriptions CD I reviewed last issue. Some of the transcriptions heard in the Sakamoto album were done by the composer and others by Okashiro herself. Sakamoto is an extremely versatile composer, performer and actor (he appeared in both Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Last Emperor) who has a classical background but allied himself with pop and rock. The classical aspect makes his music work well in these transcriptions. The final track, Parolibre, even gets into hip-hop and electronic areas. An altogether fascinating piano album loses no lustre next to the composer’s own solo piano versions of some of this music.

CINEMA CLASSICS 2004 – Classical Music Made Famous in Films – Various orchestras – Naxos 8.556813:

Eleven classical selections used in films, in straight through performances taken from various entries in the huge Naxos discography. This idea has been done by several of the major labels but often the music is special tarted-up arrangements of the melodies, and this collection is authentic. The first one caught my eye since I had just written up the review of the film on DVD (in our DVD section this issue). Here are all 11: The Wm. Tell Overture (Goodbye, Lenin), Flower Due from Lakme by Delibes (Lara Croft Tomb Raider), Eine kleine Nachtmusik sel. (X-2), Handel: Zadok the Priest (Johnny English), Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata 1st movt. (Elephant), Habanera from Carmen (Runaway Jury), Handel: Concerto grosso Op. 6 No. 12, 3rd movt. (Pirates of the Caribbean), Bernstein: I Feel Pretty (Anger Management – If you saw the film you’ll probably never again think of West Side Story when you hear it), Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, excerpt (Master and Commander), Wagner: Bridal Chorus (Just Married), 1812 Overture (Down With Love)

THE FILM MUSIC OF RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Vol. 2 – 49th Parallel; The Dim Little Island; The England of Elizabeth – BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba – Chandos Movies CHAN 10244:

All three of these are first recordings of the complete suites. 49th Parallel was shown in the U.S. as The Invaders, and the 1940 film was intended to scare the Americans about the Nazi threat so that the U.S. would enter WWII sooner. It takes place in Canada where a U-boat has sailed up the St. Lawrence and the German crew is trying to get to the neutral U.S. Themes similar to VW’s Fifth Symphony are heard in the score since he was working on that piece at the same time. The nearly 40-minute suite takes the majority of the CD. 16 cues advance the story with titles such as Hudson Bay Post, Nazi March, Indian Music, and Nazis on the Run.

The England of Elizabeth was a British documentary evoking Tudor-period England with the use of folk song and choral music. It sounds like a continuous choral-orchestra score, but is divided into sections such as Street S cene, Tudor houses, Books, Stratford, Road to London, King’s College, etc. Gamba has arranged and conducted most of the extensive movie scores on Chandos and this latest additions retains the high level of presentation already established in the series.

(all above reviews — John Sunier)

12 Cellists of the Berlin PhilTHE 12 CELLISTS OF THE BERLIN PHILHARMONIC: As Times Goes By – EMI Classics 5 55789 2 (69 mins.):

It’s a characteristically Europop hybrid of film music and lounge lizard jazz, but who cares? It’s the twelve fab cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic returning after two earlier releases for some more highbrow commercial sophistication, this time at the expense of Hollywood. Starting out with the theme from Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (Jule Styne and Leo Robin), they work their way down well trodden paths with smarmy elegance and cool glamour.

The ambiance is mostly very smooth, but every now and then the German dozen gather up their energy for some relatively hot licks, like “Tea for Two” from No, No, Nanette. Mostly though, it’s slow and sweet, like Nino Rota and Michele Galdieri’s “La Strada,” and “Love Me Tender” is given a touching, devotional treatment. The arrangements are done by Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann (whose Homage to Nelson Mandela for cello and percussion was recorded a few years ago by Naxos) with a priority on sonority. I was not quite sure who this is intended for when I first played it through, but I wound up listening to it over and over, it’s so beautifully done in its calculatingly smarmy way.

Recorded in Teldex Studios in Berlin, the sound is a little close but full of audiophile touches, the bite of a string here, the ploink of a pizzicato there, with the occasional added trumpet, percussion, harp or bass, and even, in “The Bare Necessities” from Terry Gilkyson’s score for The Jungle Book, Max Raabe’s slight, crooning tenor. Eckhardt van den Hoogen’s liner notes show their provincial roots, but the photo on the back cover of the 12 cello playing gents is lots of fun: Try picking out the ones who don’t seem entirely happy to be in the picture.

– Laurence Vittes

The following are not soundtracks but seem to fit comfortably into this general area:

Jean Michael Jarre compendiumThe Essential JEAN MICHEL JARRE – Dreyfus FDM 36166-2:

Jarre, the son of film composer Maurice Jarre, struck a chord with audiences around the world with his tuneful and accessible electronic music. Many of us still have LPs around of his initial successes Oxygene and Equinoxe. Some excerpts from both are included in the compendium sampler of the many albums he has done since those first ones. I recall finding the Concert in China interesting, but still fall back on the early pair of albums (also reissued by Mobile Fidelity) rather than some of his later efforts. A recent collection of ambient mixes, turntablist efforts and whatnot based on Jarre’s music was frankly a threat to my ears. You might just want to check out the originals if you are somehow unfamiliar with Jarre; I’m not sure just how Essential the rest of these tracks are: Oxygene Part 4, Zoolookologie, Equinoxe Part 4, Oxygene Part 8, C’Est la Vie, Ethnicolor 1, Oxygene Part 2, Equinoxe Part 5, Souvenir of China, Chronologie Part 4, Revolution Revolutions, Band in the Rain, Calpyso, Fourth Rendezvous, Oxygene Part 6, Diva.

Barbara Cook's BroadwayBarbara Cook’s Broadway! – Wally Harper, music director – DRG 91484:

Barbara Cook was one of the best singers in musicals and operettas of the recent past. In this live recording made at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in NYC last year she does 20 great tunes from shows she starred in, and in between tells some tales about her career. The purity of her great voice is undimmed and she doesn’t need any gimmicks to communicate exactly what the emotional content is of each song. Her straight-forwardness and honesty is refreshing and quite different from most Broadway performers. Cook has performed with jazz bands and achieves a nice jazz feeling in some of the tunes. The accompaniment is just piano and string bass. Even if you’re not a “Broadway baby” type, I think you’ll find this album a terrific musical experience.

Tunes: I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight?, It’s Not Where You Start, Among My Yesterdays, Wiat Till We’re 65, Till There Was You, Mister Snow, A Wonderful Guy, A Perfect Relationship, I’ll Marry the Very Next Man, The Gentleman is a Dope, His Face, In Buddy’s Eyes, Tonight at Eight, No More Candy, A Trip to the Library, He Loves Me, This Nearly Was Mine, Look What Happened to Mabel, What’ll I Do?/Time Heals Everything, The Party’s Over.

ARCHY AND MEHITABEL – Starring Carol Channing and Eddie Bracken with narration by David Wayne; ECHOES OF ARCHY – Music by George Kleinsinger; orch. cond. by the composer. ST.-SAENS: Carnival of the Animals – Noel Coward, narrator/Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra – Columbia/DRG19064:

This 1954 effort was one of my favorite LPs and in fact I still have it – CL 4963. Not a Broadway show, the dramatizations are based on the adorable stories of Don Marquis about the newspaper office cat Mehitabel and her little friend Archy the cockroach, who at night in the empty office hurls himself at the typewriter keys to write up reports of local news, Mehitabel’s love life, and his own philosophizing (no caps since he can’t press the Shift key!). Bracken is a perfect roach and Channing is Mehitabel personified. Total delight! (Later productions were called Shinbone Alley.)

And you also get another triumph from about the same time: The most fun version of Carnival of the Animals ever, due to the new verses especially written by Ogden Nash and intoned by Noel Coward. What a combination! And the flute solos for the birds are by Julius Baker yet! Oy vey! Thanks to DRG for digging these out of the dusty archives and bringing them to a new generation of listeners to be captivated!

– John Sunier

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