Michel Legrand, is one of the worlds foremost and respected performers and composers, his ability to please listeners with his jazz performances and compositions and also his work for film has kept him within public gaze for over 4 decades. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, was Legrand,s third major film score and followed hot on the heels of THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR(1968) AND ICE STATION ZEBRA also from that year. It is sometimes surprising to think that these three assignments are all from the same composer as each one employs differing styles and sounds, THOMAS CROWN, utilizing jazz influenced musical colours, ZEBRA employing a more dramatic and grandiose epic sound, and HEIGHTS being a lush and lyrical work full of romantic and heartrending tone poems which are played alongside and intermingled with musical passages and motifs that are pure operatic creating an atmosphere of windswept tragedy. Legrand.s fully symphonic work is one that will please any connoisseur of fine film music, his use of strings combined with piano and also at times subdued but melodic woods and harpsichord is hauntingly effective, this is demonstrated most effectively within track number 8, CATHY,S THEME, which is a piece straight out of the text book of romantic film scoring, the cue opens with flute underlined by soothing strings, muted horn and piano this introduction builds and leads into a lush and emotive rendition of the scores central theme performed by strings that are augmented and enhanced by trickling piano and wistful woodwind, which in turn also take on a solo role within the cue as well as a brief but poignant violin solo performance. The elements here combine to create a track that is full of not only emotion but creates a dramatic atmosphere that swells to a peak and then melts away just as quickly leaving the track to be brought to an end by woods underlined by slightly uneasy sounding strings. In many ways this score has affiliations with the style of Legrand’s fellow countryman Georges Delerue, the subtle but effective utilization of woods underlined by strings and flourishes from harpsichord can be heard throughout the work, I think it is the fragility of the sound achieved by Legrand that is part of this works success and attraction, each cue from the score contains either a delicate air of romanticism or a dramatic and at times energetic pulsating array of percussion and urgent sounding instrumentation.
The opening track I WAS BORN IN LOVE WITH YOU, is the scores central theme, and this can e heard at various stages of the proceedings in a number of musical arrangements and varying instrumentation, this first outing for the theme is a fairly subdued one, woods and strings combine to carry Legrand’s haunting theme and give it a full if low key rendition. Track number 2, THE YORKSHIRE MOORS, at first sounds a little out of place in comparison to the remainder of the score, it has the atmosphere and style of minor track from a western when it begins rather than being from a period classic such as WUTHERING HEIGHTS, guitar and woodwind play alternately and then combine briefly as woods and also harpsichord take on a variation of the central theme. This is an excellent soundtrack and a perfect example of Legrand in romantic mode, sweeping and surging string passages and highly dramatic compositions rule here, the composer painting a musical picture of the mystical moors that act as the stories backdrop and the tragic but tender and undying love between Heathcliff and Cathy, with plaintive and emotive nuances. Sound quality is fairly good but I did detect a little distortion on a few of the cues, but this did not impair or spoil my listening experience of this fine Legrand soundtrack, as always the release is packaged and presented to La La Lands normal high standards. One to add to the collection.