Great Movie Themes 2/Compilation of Film Composers

May 27, 2009

Great Movie Themes 2 artworkNaxos has just introduced “Great Movie Themes 2” as the second installment from Carl Davis conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He makes available movie themes in easy listening arrangements, appealing to a wider listening audience at an affordable price. In terms of audience appeal film music compilations, in some respects, are a no win situation for the record producer. Silva, who I’ve given the title of “King of the Compilations,” is always recycling material under different titles. The latest compilation offered Batman material, some of which had been released under a previous Tim Burton movie compilation. They try to save money. How many will say “Been there, done that already.” Some will question including choices such as “Deerhunter,” “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” or two selections from “Superman” and omitting x, y, and z. Why are there 6 selections of John Williams’s material in the first two volumes and nothing from Thomas Newman? I’m glad that I don’t have the tough decisions to make as to what to include. One thing for sure is that the choices and styles of music are varied.

The “Pink Panther” is one of the more recognizable themes and Brian Gascoigne arranged it a little more on easy swing side as opposed to the raucous version Mancini arranged for concert orchestra. I’ve heard the Boston Pops perform this classic many times and it is quite the vibrant piece. The suite from “Mission Impossible” is nice as the 5 minutes consist of the two main themes from the highly successful television series intermixed as they are performed. Again, the arrangement by Mike Townend is more on the conservative side. The three choices of John William’s material from “Jurassic Park” and “Superman” are some of the more memorable themes John has written. I’m partial to the “Can You Read My Mind?” selection as I used to play this for my daughter daily for at least a year. If you enjoy schmaltz, the arrangements of “Love Story”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “English Patient”, and “Godfather” will be to your liking. They are arranged and performed to bring a tear to the dry eye. “Pirates of the Caribbean” is really lacking in the vibrancy necessary to truly capture this Klaus Badelt composition which is a loud rocking chanty.

The highlight for this reviewer was in the wonderful Christopher Palmer arrangement of the Stanley Myers Intro and Cavatina from “The Deerhunter.” The lonely distant trumpet, minor chords from the lower register strings, and then the beginning of that beautiful theme from the flutes and horns result in one of the prettiest themes ever written for the silver screen. The other interesting track of merit is the fine composition from Carl Davis for “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” It’s not a great melody but the overall track is conveying the yearning love in a recital style. Well done!

For the casual listener to film music this CD would be a perfect addition to your collection. Nice conservative arrangements of classic melodies for the silver screen. The hard core collector would have to decide if “The Deerhunter” and French Lieutenant’s Woman” would warrant an $8.00 investment. Those two cues are awfully good but the rest is as I stated earlier “Been there, done that.”

Naxos CD# is 8.572111

Producer and Editor: Andrew Walton

Track Listing:

1.… Batman Theme (Elfman) 2:18

2.… The Pink Panther (Mancini) 3:54

3.… Mission Impossible Suite (Schifrin) 4:55

4.… Theme from Love Story (Lai) 4:35

5.… Theme from Jurassic Park (Williams) 5:40

6.… Romeo and Juliet (Rota) 3:40

7.… March From Superman (Williams) 4:18

8.… The English Patient (Yared) 5:41

9.… The Godfather (Rota) 4:00

10.. Love Theme from Superman (Williams) 5:06

11.. Pirates of the Caribbean (Badelt) 5:32

12.. Introduction and Cavatina from The Deerhunter 6:56

13.. The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Davis) 4:28

14.. Shakespeare in Love (Warbeck) 6:44

Total Time is 68:44

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One Response to “Great Movie Themes 2/Compilation of Film Composers”

  1. Martijn Says:

    Good review. *Way* too familiar ground for me to re-tread though: I have all the originals, and of many various (re)interpretations. So at the end of the day I guess I’ll pass, personally.

    However it’s collections like these that sustained me throughout my Years Of Discovery in the late seventies/early eighties, so for anyone looking into the genre, it certainly sounds like an excellent introduction.


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