Composer Philippe Sarde has always been one of my own personal favourites, he is a composer that seems to be able to adapt easily to any genre of film and any scenario within any movie. His music is never predictable and has always surprised amazed and delighted me, whether it is a jazz orientated work or a lush and lavish symphonic affair there is always something that just mesmerises and attracts the listener either when heard in the context of the movie or away from it, the composers music just works and fit’s the images like a glove, underlining, embellishing and supporting each and every scene. The composers adaptability, flexibility and artistry is showcased perfectly within the compact disc release on Universal jazz France, Music from the films of Alain Corneau, which contains the scores to LE CHOIX DES ARMES (1981) and FORT SAGANNE (1984), the first score has to it a more contemporary sound but saying this it does also contain moods that are romantically laced which the composer integrates with some slightly jazz influenced passages to create a soundtrack that is lushly hypnotic and grandiose but at the same time can be dramatic and infectious it has about it an intimacy and fragility. In many ways the music for LE CHOIX DES ARMES oozes a sound and style that one automatically associates with being French, in fact I was reminded of fellow French composers Michel Legrand and also Francis Lai, when listening to the work for the first time. Sarde fuses a handful of differing styles layering one upon the other to create a style that is arguably original but definitely one that is all of his own. Contrabasses feature large within the score and at times are the foundation for many of the compositions and act as punctuation for others. LES CHOIX DES ARMES has to it an air of sophistication with its luxurious string led flourishes and almost opulent sounding themes, it does also however contain at certain points offbeat, and somewhat surprising interludes, that one could be mistaken for coming from another score completely, but maybe this is the attraction of this work and others by Sarde, inventive and innovative I think would best describe his contributions to the world of film music. Orchestrations are by Peter Knight who also conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and also like fellow British composer/arranger/conductor Harry Rabinowitz has been a long time collaborator of Sarde. For this score like many of his others the composer utilises the LSO and the association between the composer and this famous orchestra has certainly created some magical moments in music for film. The second score on the compact disc is from the 1984 motion picture FORTE SAGANNE.
This is unquestionable one of my top five film scores, forget the grandiose and the blockbuster soundtracks for just a moment, concentrate if you will upon the beauty, the romanticism and the elegance of FORTE SAGANNE, which is obvious from the very start of the score with the poignant and heart rending cello solo that the composer employs within the soundtracks opening theme, it literally tugs at ones heart strings and leaves you with an aching and also a yearning for more after it has finished. This emotive composition is given an moving and mesmerist performance by Xavier Gagnepain of the LSO. The cue is one that I personally never tire of, it is fragile, delicate, filled with romantic melancholy and filled with expressiveness that is highly affecting, the haunting piece is surely an iconic composition for film music aficionados. The remainder of the score to contains some of the most expressive and haunting thematic properties that I have ever heard, the composer creating a lavish and lush atmosphere with romantic strings and poignant woodwinds that together bring forth totally absorbing tone poems that linger in ones mind long after the music has ceased. It also has its rousing moments when Sarde brings into play martial sounding passages that utilise percussion, brass and strident dark strings. All I can say is I recommend this compact disc, and FORTE SAGANNE in particular. Presented well with lots of liner notes. Released as part of the excellent, ECOUTEZ LE CINEMA series.