A much younger score reviewer made a rather interesting remark when I commented on the incredible difference between Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Yared’s original score material on the new Coco and Igor film. “Of course it is. Yared’s is actually listenable.” Someday the young ears will realize the huge contribution Stravinsky made to the music world with his Rite of Spring. My first several years of playing and studying produced the same kind of opinion. To my young ears it was just noise and I couldn’t stand it. Over the years I’ve grown to admire it. The film not only deals with the ballet but the relationship between Coco Chanel, Igor Stravinsky, and his family. As of this writing I know of no release date to see the film in the USA.

The soundtrack is divided into two sections. There is material by Stravinsky including a 2003 recording of Rite of Spring (1947 rev.) with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. The ballet, a pagan rite in which a maiden is being sacrificed to the God of Spring, is a challenge to the dancers and is the beginning of the film, with the other half being the original material written for the film by Yared and the Coco/Igor relationship. As I mentioned above it is quite the contrasting style. The main theme that first appears in “Coco & Igor” is a serene quiet melody played by the oboe. The theme in the introduction of Rite of Spring is also a quiet melody from the woodwind section. Perhaps this was Yared’s way of acknowledging the work? This lovely delicate theme is repeated in several other tracks including “La Lettre,” on solo violin, and “Perfums du passe,” on clarinet. “Generique de fin,” featuring the strings in a slightly frantic fashion, also uses this Coco & Igor theme. The “Preambule,” which sounds like a structured orchestra warming up before performing, is also repeated in “Derniers instants” and “Evocations.” The Coco and Igor theme is also repeated in “Derniers instants” in a very dark and mysterious dirge like fashion with melody being carried by the bassoon. “Les Amants” introduces a golden age love melody with a small tribute to Claude Debussy included in the theme, who also composed at the time of the premiere of Rite of Spring.

Yared successfully complements the music of Stravinsky to make this a recommended score especially if you don’t have The Rite of Spring. It is a revolutionary work, which is admired and studied by many film composers, and many ideas have germinated and blossomed as a result of this work. Recommended.

Track Listing:

The Rite of Spring: The Adoration of the Earth

1.… Introduction (Lento) (3:38)

2.… Dance of the Young Girls (3:16)

3.… Mock Abduction (1:18)

4.… Spring Round Dances (3:46)

5.… Games of the Rival Tribes (1:51)

6.… Procession of the Wise Elder (0:43)

7.… Adoration of the Earth (0:25)

8.… Dance of the Earth (1:10)

The Rite of Spring: The Sacrifice

9.… Introduction (Largo) (4:49)

10.. Mystical Circles of the Young Girls (3:09)

11.. Glorification of the Chosen Victim (1:38)

12.. Summoning of the Ancestors (0:44)

13.. Ritual of the Ancestors (3:18)

14.. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen Victim) (4:58)

Performed by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

Igor Stravinsky Piano Pieces

15.. 5 easy pieces (andante) (1:10)

16.. Les 5 doigts (moderato) (0:55)

Performed by Christophe Bukudjian

Original Score by Gabriel Yared

17.. Preambule (1:10)

18.. Coco & Igor (1:43)

19.. Depart pour Grasse (2:38)

20.. Les Amants (2:29)

21.. La Lettre (3:28)

22.. Desaccord parfait (4:04)

23.. La Balance (1:43)

24.. Parfums du passe (3:45)

25.. Derniers instants (4:22)

26.. Generique de fin (2:32)

27.. Evocations (3:16)

28.. Les 5 doigts with the voices of the actors (1:29)

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When I first saw the latest release My Twisted Valentine from Silva Records, I immediately thought about all of the blood and gore films that had to do with Valentine’s Day. As I looked at the titles and saw such films as Marnie, Bonnie and Clyde, Brokeback Mountain, and Vertigo, it suddenly dawned on me that this was different from what I anticipated and the word twisted had to do with the film and not the kind of music one might hear on Valentine’s Day or the slashing music of “My Bloody Valentine.” “My Funny Valentine” and “My Foolish Heart,” staples on this romantic day, are left to other CD compilations.

Three of Bernard Herrmann classic film compositions “Marnie,” Psycho,” and “ Vertigo,” previously released on the Essential Bernard Herrmann, are fine examples of the concept with “Scene D’Amour” also fitting on a romantic CD as well as this one. Psycho is without a doubt one of the more terrifying scores ever written with the slashing string sound bite being copied 1000’s of time. “Edward At Her Bed” (Bella’s Lullaby) from the Twilight film as well as Brokeback Mountain could also fit into the romantic genre CD. “La Dolce Vita Suite,” from the Nino Rota compilation release, seems a bit out of place with its jazz like elevator style music, but it is nonetheless a nice selection of material from the 60’s film. Similar is the waltz from Eyes Wide Shut which is taken from a jazz suite of Shostakovich. I found the banjo picking/strumming of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” from Bonnie and Clyde quite out of place on this CD. The film did have a violent shootout ending so I can understand why it was chosen but this famous theme would be better served on another compilation.

The veteran collector likely already has the majority of this material and with the exception of the “La Dolce Vita Suite” isn’t going to find much new to his liking at all. For the new collector this would be an introduction to Herrmann and more in the ever growing digital download market. Look for more digital download only material in the future. Available as a digital download only on 02-08-10 from the usual suppliers.

Track Listing:

1. Marnie City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman 3:03

2. Psycho – Main Theme / Murder City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman 3:02

3. Kill Bill – Battle Without Honour or Humanity London Music Works 2:35

4. La Dolce Vita Suite The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Derek Wadsworth 7:14

5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – The Storm City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Nic Raine 4:26

6. Eyes Wide Shut – Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2 City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman 3:55

7. Bonnie and Clyde – Foggy Mountain Breakdown Michigan Music Works 2:31

8. Thelma and Louise – Main Theme City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, James Fitzpatrick 2:56

9. Fatal Attraction – Main Theme City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman 5:02

10. Betty Blue (37.2 le Matin) Mark Ayres 5:41

11. Lolita – Lolita Ya Ya London Music Works, Evan Jolly 2:36

12. Rosemary’s Baby – Lullaby City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, James Fitzpatrick 2:48

13. Brokeback Mountain – The Wings / Brokeback Mountain City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, James Fitzpatrick 4:08

14. Vertigo – Scene D’Amour City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman 5:13

15. Twilight – Edward At Her Bed (Bella’s Lullaby) City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, James Fitzpatrick 3:33

Les Ruses d’amour/Glazunov

January 23, 2010

This CD, the 19th in the Naxos series of Glazunov recordings, was originally a 1992 Marco Polo release(8.220485), being recorded in 1986.

Alexander Glazunov was a talented prolific Russian composer who never achieved the popularity of Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, or Shostakovich. While his style is recognizable to the avid listener he certainly didn’t have the orchestral ability of Rimsky-Korsakov or the talent to compose melodies like Tchaikovsky or the versatility of Shostakovich. Still he had a style that this reviewer has always found pleasing to the ear and easy to listen to, making a considerable contribution to Russian classical music.

Les Ruses d’amour, also known as Lady- Soubrette or The Trial of Damis, was a one act ballet written in 1898 with choreography and story by Marius Petipa. This work is approximately at the halfway point in Glazunov’s 50+ years of composing. Even though this is a choreographic realization of French rococo and the delicate opening theme is a French dance melody, this one act ballet is very Glazunov sounding in terms of his “Russian” sound, arranging, and orchestration. One would definitely not mistake this work for anything European! It doesn’t have the heavy Russian sound of many of his other works but there is little doubt where it came from.

The 50+ minute work flows nicely as it tells the story of a daughter of a duchess who pretends to be a common maid in order to test the love of the man she is bethrothed to. The mixture of music ranges from baroque (sarabande), a wonderful puppet dance, a proud march, grand waltz, Tchaikovsky imitating (Scene VI, Marcia), romantic gypsy violin, and a rousing finale. Even though there are many styles and tempos, the music paints a wonderful color and flows quite nicely. The 15 tracks combine material compared to the 21 tracks of the Lady- Soubrette recording on Melodiya with Svetlanov conducting the USSR Symphony Orchestra. Both recordings have good sound but the attractive lower price of Naxos is always a factor.

While this work is certainly nothing groundbreaking, the Glazunov listener will find this a welcome addition to his collection and ballet fans will find it enjoyable.

Track Listing:

Romanian State Orchestra

Andreescu, Horia, Conductor

Naxos 8.572447

1. Introduction et Scene I 00:05:11

2. Recitatif mimique 00:02:35

3. Sarabande 00:02:19

4. Farandole et Scene II 00:03:09

5. Danse des marionettes 00:04:04

6. Scene III 00:02:55

7. Scenes IV et V 00:02:55

8. Variation 00:01:00

9. Scene VI: Marcia 00:02:48

10. Scene VII: Grande Valse 00:07:17

11. Scenes VIII – XI 00:03:33

12. Ballabile des paysans et des paysannes 00:04:21

13. Grand pas des fiances 00:04:06

14. Variation 00:01:56

15. La Fricassee 00:02:46

Total Playing Time: 00:50:55