The Essential Film Music Collection/Francis Lai

January 16, 2011

 

One of the busier composers in the last half of the 20th Century was Francis Lai, known primarily for his Love Story, and Live for Life soundtracks, but he has done so much more not only for film but for television and jazz. Silva Records recorded this compilation in 2009 with Francis Lai conducting his own orchestra consisting of 20 tracks of his popular material spanning over 20 years. This is not a CD where you’re going to find several other of their compilation releases with material from it.

The 69 minute CD will likely include your favorite of this great French composer.

 

Lai is a hit or miss proposition as one of my friends described his feeling about the recorded material. Another commented that I have to be in the mood for his style. A third just called it elevator music. On first listen it sounds quite similar with one song just blending into another. You’ll hear the sound of the accordion and a small string ensemble and there it is: an instant French motif. The outdoor café, love in the air as the two couples look at each other, the smell of fresh aromatic flowers. “13 Jours en France,” is a typical showcase example of this genre that he’s expanded upon over the years. “Bilitis” is quite similar with the addition of a female singing wordless in the background with a greater emphasis placed on the piano. The style and melody while different in orchestration could easily remind one of Morricone. Perhaps this could be called a European style. “Ballet Apocalypse” takes one back to his days of working in a smoky jazz club with Edith Piaf. While it is considered jazz it is certainly nothing even close to be considered over the top. “Folies Bergeres” is a definite reminder of what Morricone did with the twang in the guitar chords before going in another direction with a sense of drama before he uses some basic brass chords, something of a rarity for Francis. This is one track that is definitely out of his basic mold. “Itineraire d’Un Enfant Gate” is a slightly jazzy number with a solo and sound of a Stephan Grappelli. He makes one feel a sense of longing as well as a bit of urgency. As a reviewer I found “Le Lecon Particuliere” with the steady guitar strumming and the romantic solo violin to be a satisfying track. The catchy melody stuck in my head for a time. With “Les Miserables” you’re right back to the French café scene with the addition of a saxophone to enhance the experience. One could be remind of a composition that could nicely fit onto a compilation disc of laid back material.

 

Also included in this compilation are the hit pop numbers “Love Story” “Un Homme et Une Femme,” and “Vivre Pour Vivre” the melodies that vaulted him into stardom and make this CD complete. “Love Story” is a piano showcase with the yearning strings complementing the keyboard. “Un Homme et Une Femme” takes a South American rhythm approach in a very danceable orchestration.

 

No film collection is complete unless you have something from Lai. It is easy listening material but upon closer examination you’ll find more than the elevator music. If you’re not familiar with him this is a nice introduction to his material.

 

Silva Records #SILCD 1338

 

Track Listing:

1. 13 Jours en France

Theme from the 1968 Claude Lelouch/Francois Reichenbach documentary about the Grenoble Olympics. Aka ‘Challenge in the Snow’.(3:52)

 

2. Bilitis

Theme from the 1977 David Hamilton film about a young woman’s summer of self-discovery. Starred Patti D’Arbanville. (4:14)

 

3. Concerto Pour la Fin d’Un Amour

Based on a theme from the 1969 Claude Lelouch film ‘Un Homme Une Me Plait’, originally featured on the 1971 album ‘Francis Lai Joue Francis Lai’. (3:21)

 

4. Emmanuelle II

Theme from the second film in the erotic franchise starring Sylvia Kristel… Also known as ‘Emmanuelle: Antivierge’ or ‘Anti-Virgin’. (3:38)

 

5. Ballet Apocalypse

Theme from Lai-scored segment of Claude Lelouch’s musical odyssey ‘Les Uns et Les Autres’ which spanned forty years of life in France set to and about music. (2:30)

 

6. Folies Bergeres

Second theme from another musical sequence within Claude Lelouch’s epic ‘Les Uns et Les Autres’… (4:10)

 

7. Itineraire d’Un Enfant Gv¢te

Theme from the 1988 Claude Lelouch drama starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Richard Anconina. (3:56)

 

8. La Belle Histoire

Lai goes Latin for this bizarre Claude Lelouch film from 1992 in which the lives, loves and losses of several characters are portrayed in tandem with those

Of their former incarnations during the time of Christ. (3:26)

 

9. La Course du Livvre v° Travers Les Champs

This oddball caper film from Rene Clement saw Robert Ryan in one of his final roles alongside Tisa Farrow (sister of Mia) (2:24)

 

10. Le Lecon Particuliere

Yet more extra-marital angst as Nathalie Delon stars as a married woman who becomes entangled in a love affair with a teenage boy. (2:21)

 

11. Le Genre Humain

A return to form for Lai and Lelouch, as they revisit themes and colors from their earlier work. Aka ‘Le Courage d’Amour’. (3:06)

 

12. Le Passager de la Pluie

Charles Bronson stars in this Rene Clement thriller about a US Army Colonel on the case of a ruthless sex attacker. Aka ‘Rider on the Rain’. (5:02)

 

13. Les Etoiles du Cinema

This theme was penned to accompany a weekly film segment on French television channel FR3. (3:57)

 

14. Les Miserables

Claude Lelouch takes on Victor Hugo’s original story alongside that of a modern day man influenced by the famous tale of Jean Valjean. (3:30)

 

15. Les Ripoux

Director Claude Zidi’s film about a ‘Bad Cop’ who makes good when he’s given a new partner to keep him in line. (2:47)

 

16. Pour L’amour de Tes Yeux 2oirs

Theme from 1987 romantic drama by Nikita Mikhalkov which sees Marcello Mastroianni star as a man retelling his tale of love to a fellow passenger on board ship. (3:35)

 

17. Love Story

Lai’s now legendary theme for ‘the’ Hollywood romance of the 1970s… Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal star as the young lovers overcoming the odds and familial prejudices to be together. (5:04)

 

18. Mayerling

Terence Young’s 1968 take on the famous ‘murder-suicide’ story concerning Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera, who were found dead together at the royal family’s hunting lodge in 1889. Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve star. (1:55)

 

19. Un Homme et Une Femme

This light, easy pop theme has become one of Lai’s most famous and it was his first for a major film. The music serves the almost wordless story of ‘A Man and a Woman’, who find each other but can’t love each other, perfectly. (2:55)

 

20. Vivre Pour Vivre

A love story, albeit another affair, framed by the events of the Vietnam War. Yves Montand stars as the womanizing war reporter, alongside a young Candice Bergen. (3:11)

 

 

Total Time is 69:05

 

 

 

 

 

 

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