Composer Michel Legrand has been creating rhythmic, haunting and dramatic themes and scores for motion pictures forever, well at least it seems that way. I first encountered his music in THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR mainly because the theme song THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND entered the British charts in the latter part of the 1960,s I remember this because I was a youngster in hospital after having my appendix removed and was feeling rather sorry for myself in the isolation ward of the children’s hospital. I recall seeing Noel Harrison on top of the pops television show performing the song and even as a 13 year old was interested in film music so kept it in mind and after making a recovery was out on my usual Saturday excursions to the local record stores where with saved pocket money would buy soundtracks, one such shop called 1 0 7 was a treasure trove of film music with numerous review copies coming into stock regularly, I remember getting THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and THE SICILIAN CLAN on the same day for 11 shillings each I suppose that is around 60 pence in new money as my Grandad would say. So that was my first dip into the exquisite musical world of Michel Legrand, gladly it was the first of many such excursions of discovery where I would savour and digest the music of this talented, original and diverse composer.
To name one singular score or theme as my favourite Legrand would be impossible because his output is so varied and always wonderful. So in 2005 when Universal music France issued LE CINEMA DE MICHEL LEGRAND as a four disc set I was in music heaven, this is an essential purchase for any collector of film music and any self respecting Legrand devotee, it is crammed to bursting with so many familiar themes but also has its fair share of rare cues including an excerpt from his rejected music for ROBIN AND MARIAN. This is one of those compilations where one can literally put it on and not skip one single track. It charts the composers career starting with L:AMERIQUE INSOLITE from 1958 and going through into the 1960,s with scores for films such as LOLA, UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME, CLEO DE 5 A 7, EVA, THE UMBERELLAS OF CHERBOURG, A MATTER OF INNOCENCE, PLAY DIRTY, ICE STATION ZEBRA and the aforementioned THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR through to the 1970,s with THE THREE MUSKETEERS, LADY SINGS THE BLUES, THE SUMMER OF 42 etc, into the 1980,s with NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and YENTL and INCLUDES OFFERINGS FROM THE 1990’s in the form of PRET A PORTER and LA BUCHE and then onto LA BICYCLETTE BLEUE which was a TV production from 2000.
This I think is a labour of love for Stephane Lerouge who compiled and produced the collection, but saying that anything he does is superb, his attention to detail and also his research on all of his projects is second to none. It is not until you actually take the time to sit and listen to this compilation from start to finish that you really begin to realise just how much Legrand has contributed to film music, but lets not forget its not just soundtracks that the composer involves himself with, he is after all an accomplished and revered jazz pianist who still today gives concerts on a regular basis. Such is his musical prowess that he can be writing a score for a movie, co writing a song whilst performing in concert, a truly chameleon like individual, giving new meaning to the word multi-tasking. Touching tone poems, intimate melodies, dramatic passages and highly infectious compositions all go to create this superbly magnificent collection of music from the mind and pen of Michel Legrand. Presented formidably with so much information and photos this is as I have already stated an essential purchase, just seek this one out and enjoy. I cannot praise this release enough HIGHLY recommended.