On my very first listen, a Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself what a perfect selection to hear to while I relax in my easy chair in the living room. There was nothing blaring, dissonant, or complex, just beautiful simply played melodies that for the most part will never be listed in the 100 Greatest Themes of all time but to the soundtrack hobbyist this material is right up your alley. The arrangements are simple without complicated scale runs and harmonies yet this isn’t elevator or piano bar music. It grabs your attention without your brain having to process a lot of complex chords.

Stephen Edwards is hardly a household name and some of you might not be familiar with him at all. I would admit to the same dubious honor were it not for Movie Score Media who released Rin Tin Tin (2007), Ninja (2009), and Cool Dog (2010). In addition, Edwards has also performed piano in such films as The Prestige (2006) and most recently The Mechanic (2011), included on this compilation. He has also composed for the films Feast (2005), The Patriot (1998), and Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) as well as sixty others. Stephen is a talented composer, who has pretty much flown under the radar for much of his career.

Beginning the CD is the elegant Elmer Bernstein composition To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)  a melody I remember so well when I walked out of a theater in Norwood Mass. Stephen captures so well what Bernstein had in mind for the film simple and childlike yet powerful. Two of my favorite selections are the two tracks from Being There (1979) a relatively unknown score from Johnny Mandel. Both are charmingly presented to the listener and I fell in love with “Goodbye Louise” the very first listen. Being an admirer of Satie for a moment I thought it was one of his compositions until I read the liner notes and discovered what Mandel was doing with the arrangement. Another favorite is a small portion of the Eb Piano Trio of Schubert arranged by Edwards for the film The Mechanic (2011).  This is a simple haunting melody where the echoing effect adds another dimension to the composition. You’ll hear A.I. performed in a way that you’ve likely not heard before with the full orchestra of John Williams being reduced to a single piano. Yet another that instantly got my attention was the theme from Once Upon A Time In America. It is a unique experience to hear without the soprano voice. In fact it is a refreshing change to hear all of these tunes in a raw form without any support at all from other instruments. By doing this your brain concentrates on the wonderful themes that Stephen Edwards explores.

The digital download is available as of 4/26/11 from iTunes and its sponsors for $9.99 with individual tracks at $.99. A CD is available for $13.00 or less. Having listened to both the download and the CD I for one can hear the difference especially in the tonality of the piano. One to explore. Recommended.

Track Listing:

1….To Kill a Mockingbird (Main Title) (2:24)

2….Cleopatra (Anthony and Cleopatra’s Love) (2:33)

3….Being There (The Room Upstairs) (3:23)

4….Being There (Goodbye Louise) (3:43)

5….Diva (Sentimental Walk) (2:11)

6….Sophie’s Choice (Main Title) (1:52)

7….Once Upon a Time in America (Main Title) (3:12)

8….Betty Blue (le Petit Nicolas) (3:24)

9….Cinema Paradiso (Medley) (3:35)

10..Field of Dreams (Night Mist) (2:33)

11..Cousins (Main Title) (1:49)

12..Shawshank Redemption (New Fish) (1:37)

13..Shawshank Redemption (Brooks Was Here) (2:25)

14..Sabrina (Main Title) (2:40)

15..Titanic (The Portrait) (1:48)

16..The Legend of 1900 (Playing Love) (2:47)

17.. Artificial Intelligence (The Reunion) (2:50)

18..Munich (End Credits) (1:31)

19..Little Children (2 Hillcrest) (1:21)

20..The Mechanic (Eb Piano Trio) (1:16)

Total Time is 49:54