Maurice Jarre holds a special place in my heart as a music lover and also as a collector of film scores. Why? Because it was Jarre who many, many years ago got me into film music – well at least it was his mysterious, adventurous and lavish music for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that fired up my interest in movie scores and began my long love affair with the art of scoring motion pictures. Many years later after I had met him and corresponded with him for a while I counted myself very lucky to have known him. Sadly he passed away far too soon and left a vacuum within the film music fraternity that will never be filled. It is via re-releases of his wonderful film scores such as this one, that we can again experience and appreciate his genius and also marvel at his talent as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor. Jarre’s music for A WALK IN THE CLOUDS is probably one of his most musically poetic contributions to cinema, its lush and romantic sounding phrases and themes are elegance, luxuriance and emotion personified. The opening track is a testament to this statement because within cue number 1, “Main Title/Boat Arrival”, we hear wonderful melodic writing that has a fullness and also a sumptuous aura to it. But at the same time Jarre’s magical sounding soundtrack reveals a more intimate and withdrawn persona. The string section lead the proceedings with the composer enlisting solo guitar, woodwind and a scattering of brass with just a hint of percussion to support the strings. These elements combine delightfully to create a piece that is not just hauntingly beautiful, but also a joy to experience. One of my favourite tracks on the soundtrack is cue number 7, “Butterfly Wings”. At first it is a piece which purveys an atmosphere of drama and maybe a hint of urgency but as the composition settles and progresses, Jarre brings into play a light and airy sound with strings and chimes introducing what will be the core theme of the cue. Strings and brass combine and soar in unison to fashion a restrained but effective crescendo which melts away to usher in a pensive woodwind solo which continues with a more subdued and if possible more emotive variation of the theme which brings the all too short cue to its conclusion.
Also within the score there are some more robust sounding sections, one of which is track number 9, “The Harvest”. This is a brisk and vigorous sounding piece, full to brimming with confidence and a joyous expectation, the composer creating an up-tempo jolly sound via the use of strings, woods and mariachi sounding brass. It is an effective piece; both infectious and uplifting. There are no less than 12 previously unreleased cues on this expanded edition of the score, one of which is track number 8, “Morning Walk/I’ll Stay”. This begins with woodwind underlined by subdued strings, the woods introducing and developing the core theme and passing it to the strings and vice versa, faraway sounding brass in fleetingly introduced, but it is the woods which are prominent in the first instant. Heart warming solo guitar is then introduced which is enhanced by gracious sounding strings, but these fade and a sorrowful cello solo is heard, which creates a melancholy but emotional atmosphere. Strings then raise their melodious heads and bring the composition to its end. Track 10, “First Kiss” is what one would expect from a cue titled as such, heartfelt soaring strings, play out a fully romantic version of the central theme, augmented by light woods that etch an atmosphere of ebullience upon proceedings. This score is one which will be savoured and enjoyed by all who listen to it. It matches perfectly the romantic content of the film’s storyline and exudes the atmosphere required for such a tale. This is Jarre at his romantically laced best with the composer at his most melodic and, although the work is not twenty years old yet, it is a classic Jarre score.