Tag Archives: MAURICE JARRE

ELECTRIC THEMES.

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As a film music collector, I am aware that this underatted and often neglected art form comes in all shapes, sizes and consists of numerous sounds. We have the symphonic styles as employed by composers such as John Williams and his illustrious predecessors such as Korngold, Steiner, Newman etc, and many others both in the past and in recent years. But movie music has evolved and at times like every other medium has hit its low points and then climbed again to the heady heights of excellence. I think the low for me must have been at the end of the 1970’s and through to the mid-1990.s I say low point, well that’s not exactly true because also during this period we did get wonderful symphonic and lush sounding soundtracks, but it was during this period also that the song score began to take hold, and the age of the music supervisor also came into play. Why they call them music supervisors is beyond me, because most of them cannot read a note of music and to coin a phrase from a good friend THEY WOULD NOT KNOW A SEMI QUAVER FROM A CROTCHET LET ALONE A CHEESE QUAVER. So, a music supervisor (and we will use this title loosely) was basically someone who found songs and got the rights of the songs cleared so that the film company could use them on a soundtrack to a movie, thus cutting out the composer and also the original score. Many of the songs had very little connection with what was going on in the movie, in fact they were at times (well all the time) selected to create more revenue for the film studio, who invariably would release a soundtrack album filled with them, at times it was like, NOW this is what I call bleeding the fans of the film dry vol 1, etc. And these supervisors actually got paid to do this and got a credit on the big screen too. Many films included both original score and songs too, and even in very rare cases original songs as well. In the 1990’s a soundtrack would often be released as being the original soundtrack, and it did not contain one scrap of the films score, it was all songs that were , wait for either in the movie,,,, or,,, are you ready for this inspired by the movie? Then we got a token track at times from the score tacked onto the end of the album or CD, five mins if you were very lucky. But of course, there are also scores for films which are not symphonic and are not song scores. The electronic or synthesised score, was a way of the film company saving money, after all if they had one guy and a synth machine, that’s got to be cheaper than the LSO right? Well not according to award winning composer Maurice Jarre. Who produced some epic sounding soundtracks that were brimming with themes as in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO etc. Jarre told me in an informal chat backstage at the Barbican that an electronic sore sometimes would cost more to produce than a fully symphonic work.


At the time I think he had just scored WITNESS, and when you think about it the amount of work that must go into creating an electronic score as in time etc must be high. When I think of a synthesised or electronic score, BLADE RUNNER by Vangelis comes to mind as does the composer/performers soundtracks to CHARIOTS OF FIRE and THE APOCALYPSE OF THE ANIMALS, then there are movies such as BEVERLY HILLS COP, and TOP GUN both of which were scored by Harold Faltermeyer, and lets not also forget that composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and Alan Silvestri went down the electronic route on a number of occasions. HOOSIERS, BASIC INSTINCT, GREMLINS and RUNAWAY for example by Goldsmith and DELTA FORCE by Silvestri were entirely synthesised scores.

Composers such as James Newton Howard and James Horner utilised the electronic path too, Horner’s WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK for example and Newton Howards RUSSKIES were completely synthesised. And there are the likes of Jay Chattaway, Brad Fiedel, Craig Safan and their like all of whom, experimented with synths and electronics to achieve some stunning results. Did this make the scores that these composers created any less enjoyable, not for me they didn’t.

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ELMER BERNSTEIN WITH CYNTHIA MILLER.

 

Even Elmer Bernstein who is well known for creating iconic theme laden scores for the cinema turned to non-conventional means when it came to scoring GHOSTBUSTERS and BLACK CAULDRON in fact Bernstein in the latter part of his career employed the Ondes Martenot many times, but does it mean a score is any less thematic because of the way in which it is realised? In fact, the Ondes Martenot,s presence within a score or a section of a score is mesmerising and attractive. Also let’s not forget Miklos Rosza with his PARANOIA theme for SPELLBOUND, so electronics have been around for a little while and have made some stunning impacts within film soundtracks, and coming up to date, (well the 1970’s).

 

Giorgio Moroder, was active in the area of scoring movies, his first film work was MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, for which he won an Oscar. Moroder’s disco based synth lines pulsated and meandered around the movie, but they worked and they also enhanced and supported the storyline in the same way that a fully symphonic score would have done, in fact I think that an orchestral score for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS probably would not have been so effective, the composer/producer manged to employ electronic sounds but at the same time purveyed an emotive and dramatic aura throughout, electronic soundtrack can be cold and non-emotional, but Moroder fashioned an effective LOVE THEME for the movie, which although a little more up-tempo than one would expect, is still filled with a delicate and fragile sound the composer utilising keyboard, choral effects and percussion.


Moroder of course had been active on the 1970’s disco scene and had produced massive hits for the likes of Donna Summer (I FEEL LOVE, LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY, BAD GIRLS, and the re-working of McARTHUR PARK etc) and there is little doubt because of his popularity at that time was seen by the producers of MIDNGHT EXPRESS as an already established artist that was not only capable of providing a score that would be serviceable for the film but also his name would generate sales of the soundtrack album, which it actually did. The soundtracks opening track CHASE become a floor filler in many clubs and discos even at the lengthy 9 min duration that it was, it is a track that is still played today and has been sampled by top Dj.s and music producers popping up here there and everywhere. The beat and the recurring 11 note motive creating a haunting and rhythmic musical persona on which Moroder built his hypnotic composition adding sounds and snippets of sub themes to it as it progressed and grew, the composer developing the theme and repeating it to make sure it became fixed in the memory of the watching audience or listeners and dancers in the clubs. Moroder also composed a secondary theme for the movie, which was a slower variation of his CHASE piece, but he added to this a more exotic sound which was perfect for setting the scene and accompanying the location in which the movie was set Turkey.

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Combining simple musical lines with percussive elements and adding strings or synth strings to lift the entire passage.

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This style of electronica or electronic music spawned many sound a-like tunes such as MAGIC FLY by Space, which is more or less the CHASE theme, with a few minor variations but more commercially viable for being played on the radio. I think it too heavily influenced bands such as TANGERINE DREAM, with Italian born Moroder himself picking up on the creativity of German band KRAFTWERK when he set out to establish his own style and musical identity and of course Jean Michel Jarre’s OXYGENE which was probably one of the most successful sythn inspired works from the early to mid-seventies, alongside TUBULAR BELLS by Mike Oldfield, which was mainly instrumental as in conventional but did contain some electronic support.. It is also worth mentioning that Moroder probably had a hand in influencing numerous other bands, DAFT PUNK for example, who are now active in the film scoring arena.


The sound that Moroder achieved for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS was at the time nothing out of the ordinary, but in later years many have come to not only respect the direction he went in but also revere the sound he managed to create as being something of a milestone in modern film scoring, a game-changer or an innovative and important change in direction and the beginning of what many call the hybrid score. I am surprised that Moroder did not compose more for movies and TV shows, but I was pleased to hear his score for THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH last year, which evoked so many of the themes from MIDNIGHT EXPRESS for me personally. The composer also worked on movies such as THE NEVER ENDING STORY collaborating with singer Limahl on the opening song and composer Klaus Doldinger on the score; I have to admit I preferred Doldinger’s score as it contained more symphonic elements, but the electronic style of Moroder and the symphonic sound of Doldinger complimented each other well. Moroder also was involved on the soundtracks for FLASHDANCE and ELECTRIC DREAMS both of which attained a kind of cult status with songs from both movies entering the pop charts. And let’s not forget he was also composer or a contributor on AMERICAN GIGILO, SUPERMAN lll and SCARFACE and wrote a new score for METROPOLIS the silent classic.

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The electronic score existed many years before Moroder, Faltermeyer, Vangelis and their like. Cast your mind back to THE FORBIDDEN PLANET a futuristic MGM movie, that starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and a youthful looking Leslie Nielsen, the music or at least the musical or electronic tonalities and sounds heard on the soundtrack were the work of Bebe and Louis Barron, the score was more of a soundscape when you think about it, as there were few thematic properties present. I remember having the MGM 78 rpm record, which I am sure still resides in my house loft, it contained two tracks from the soundtrack, which I have to say were somewhat difficult to listen to but worked so well in the movie. The strange sounds on the soundtrack were almost continuous, and not only under-scored the storyline but became the sounds of the planet and its inhabitants both human and alien.

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THE FORBIDDEN PLANET is credited as being the first fully electronic score. The composers responsible created a sound and also a style that was to influence many other artists which was not restricted to just film composers. Its sound and its presence perfectly enhanced the production, and its influences were also far reaching. It is probably true to say that without this score being conceived and created then other film scores such as those mentioned as in CHARIOTS OF FIRE and BLADE RUNNER might not have come into being.

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But even before FORBIDDEN PLANET electronics were utilised within film scores, not as the sole instrumentation but often to create otherworldly sounds and atmospheres as in the 1951 move THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL which was scored by Bernard Herrmann. The eerie sounds as realised by Herrmann brought much to the production and were an important part of the movie as they created a sound and a persona that was associated with the visitors that came from outer space, Herrmann’s talent at adapting and creating sounds to suit movies was already apparent, but his use of electronic sounds that acted as support to symphonic compositions and vice versa was and still is mind blowingly unique.

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This was a fusion of electronic sounds and symphonic music and a combination that worked wonderfully, and a combination that the composer returned to most notably in scores for films such as JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH Herrmann’s dark and powerful work containing growling and foreboding sounds that were intermingled with symphonic parts and an ominous organ performance to create fearful, daunting and uneasy atmospheres which were perfect for the movie and also added another dimension to the unchartered territories of the underworld these rich and unsettling atmospheres created the perfect otherworldly moods that the film required. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is another great score by Herrmann and although I initially thought that the composer had utilised some form of electronic support I have since re-thought this and listened intently, to discover that this is symphonic, with instruments creating sounds that are jagged and harsh, maybe giving the impression that there are electronic aids included, so maybe in this case we have conventional instruments setting out to imitate electronics rather than the other way around? The combination style of symphonic and synthetic was also employed by composer Franz Waxman within his renowned and ground-breaking score for THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

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It is probably true to say that the majority of film music collectors would prefer it if electronics were not used within film soundtracks, but today the electronic hardware that is at hand to composers is so sophisticated at times it is difficult to decipher if it is electronic or symphonic and I for one have been fooled many times. Some argue that because of this that a number of scores sound similar to one another, maybe because the composers involved all use the same samples or sounds?

Certain composers do tend to place a drone sound over a sequence or scenes, which is basically a noise rather than actual music, a noise which to be honest has no melody or direction and is at times just a tone which does not alter or deviate at all. But nowadays and because of composers such as Hans Zimmer (sorry I know it’s that name again) this has become something of a regular occurrence within film and TV scores and at times it seems that the art of writing actual original music for film has departed the arena as it were. But, (yes it’s that But word again,) there have been times when you just know if a movie had been scored by any other medium of music or at least the music had been performed by symphonic means it would not have sounded right and certainly would not have worked as well in the context of the movie. BLADE RUNNER for example and also THE APOCALYPSE OF THE ANIMALS both by Vangelis had about them an originality and a creativeness that was rare with synthetic scores, the composer fashioning effective and affecting thematic properties that are innovative and iconic.

 

 

So, electronics have been around for longer than we probably realise and the assumption that it is a new component or for the film music composer is not correct. Composers such as Francis Lai, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jarre etc are all associated with the silver age of film music, each have their own undeniable style and individual musical identity an identity that was the produced not by symphonic means alone, A MAN AND A WOMEN, WITNESS, ENEMY MINE, THE WORKING CLASS GO TO HEAVEN, are a handful of examples that we look upon as classic film music scores, but all have some elements that are electronically realised.

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Sadly there is a down side to the use of electronics and samples within film scoring, and that is in this modern age it becomes quite easy for someone who is competent on a computer to come along and put together a score or a collection of themes or beats that can be expanded upon which might be suitable for a movie, I have always thought that the real talent of scoring a movie is when a composer sits and watches the film and whilst doing so is taking into account the timings the best place for any music to be placed to create maximum affect and also to support the action on screen, and I am also sure that whilst a real composer sits and watches a movie for the first time he or she is hearing the music they will create for it inside their head, which I am told happens every moment of the day for a composer.

 

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Randy Edelman.

The computer age has made it easier for one to hit a button, lay down a backing track and then add sounds and repeat these until something that resembles a theme eventually takes shape. But that is another story, synthetics, electronics, samples etc whatever you want to call them are here to stay and have become an everyday occurrence not just in film music but in all genres of music. Popular music too employs synthetics much more openly and widely, artists even having electronic aids to make them sound better when singing. So, are electronics a good thing a bad thing or maybe an ugly thing? Does it depend on the way in which they are used or in the way that a composer writes? That is the question. Listen to GETTYSBURG by Randy Edelman, it is a good score and contains some rousing and epic sounding themes, but is it symphonic, NO, not at all it is an example of electronics or synthetic sounds being formed into inspiring and imposing compositions, and because it is not symphonic is it a lesser work from this composer? Again, No not at all. Let’s, compare two random romantic movie themes, THE ANONYMOUS VENITIAN by Stelvio Cipriani now this is so lush and lavish filled with strings piano and woodwind that are brought together by percussion to create a lilting and haunting piece, orchestral through and through.

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Now to BILITIS by Francis Lai, fully synthetic, but because it is, does it make this piece of elegant music any less effective or indeed affecting, do you see what I am saying? It still does the job it is destined to carry out, but returning to something I mentioned before in this article, if the theme from BILITIS was played by a one-hundred-piece orchestra with the accent on strings would it be as affecting? Probably not, and the same I suppose could be said if ANONYMOUS VENITIAN was performed at a synthesiser, would it sound right? Other composers I should mention that have utilised electronic sounds within their work for the cinema include, Francois De Roubaix, Michel Magne on various scores and Bob Crewe and Charles Fox on BARBARELLA, and that is as they say the tip of the iceberg and for the composers I have forgot to mention and I know there are many, I apologise.

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Electronics and samples are not going anywhere, and the film composer as we now know him or her will utilise them as another tool in their musical armoury, and why not, if it works then use it, if it leads to a more creative and innovative film score, it can only be a good thing.

IS PARIS BURNING?

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Many years ago when I was a lot younger and soundtracks were not so readily available or at least limited in what was issued, it was shall we say acceptable to buy a cover version of a score, this was at times down to the original not being available or if it was it was an import and had been deleted very quickly. Even at times when soundtracks were available, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA for example many people who were not actual film music collectors would opt for the cheaper cover version, nowadays I pleased to say that cover versions or re-recordings of scores from films are a lot better than they were in the days of MFP (although I am not knocking that label in anyway) and even HALLMARK released some pretty good covers and originals THE BIG COUNTRY for example. The re-recordings of today are in most cases excellent as attention is paid to reconstructing scores that have parts missing or sections that have never been previously released, in fact the only way to hear the entire score is to sit and watch the movie that it comes from. Re-recordings I think stepped up a gear when Silva Screen stepped into the re-recording market and also let us not forget the wonderful series of classic film score as recorded by Charles Gerhardt and the RCA label. But for me it was Silva screen and the Hammer soundtracks that had never seen the light of day became available as re-recordings, yes ok this was a compilation of themes and principal cues from a handful of Hammer movies such as DRACULA, VAMPIRE LOVERS, VAMPIRE CIRCUS, HANDS OF THE RIPPER etc. But they were very authentic and left us the collector wanting more, in fact it was the re-recordings by Silva that inspired the GDI label to seek out the original scores from these Hammer horrors and we all know what an excellent series that turned out to be. But, it’s the re-recording that I am focusing upon. Maurice Jarre has always been a favourite of mine and I am proud and privileged to say I met him many times both at concerts, premieres and privately and after a while became friends with him. His music has been a big part of my life as a collector of movie music in fact it was LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that started my (for want of a better word) addiction to film music. The composer had the knack of not only creating dramatic and supportive scores for movies but he also was able to produce a theme that invariably became popular away from the film it was intended to enhance. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO being a prime example in the form of SOMEWHERE MY LOVE Lara’s theme.

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The latest re-recording to hit the news is the TADLOW release of Jarre’s IS PARIS BURNING? Now although I have always been aware of the theme I have to state that the score was not a favourite of mine, the original LP record is still in the collection and in new condition, which shows how many times I actually played it.

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But after a lot of buzz about this re-recording conducted by Nic Raine and performed by THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA I decided to get myself a copy, and yes I am so glad I did. As always the attention to accuracy and detail that is displayed in other TADLOW recordings is also present here but even more so in my opinion. I suppose that because I did not actually listen to the score that often when it was issued all those years ago I can in effect listen to it with fresh ears and an open mind, what I am hearing is a wonderfully atmospheric and thematic soundtrack, which is performed to perfection by what has to be one of the globes leading film music orchestras. The compact disc opens with THE OVERTURE, which itself opens with a fairly typical Jarre sound and style, piano and percussion building with aggressive sounding brass whilst the composer introduces a variant of the familiar central theme from the score, this segues nicely into a more martial sounding piece with strings and flutes working together to bring to the fore a march theme and then on accordion we hear for the first time the haunting and highly melodic theme for the movie, this is bolstered and given weight by timpani and strings that transform it from martial into a flamboyant and almost joyous waltz type composition which brings the track to a shimmering and uplifting conclusion. This re-recording boasts a lot of previously unreleased cues 22 in all if I counted correctly. So definitely a complete edition of this soundtrack and one that will fit in very nicely with the rest of Jarre’s moving and highly attractive film soundtrack releases on the TADLOW label, we have James Fitzpatrick to thank for all these wonderful releases but I am sure he will say NOT JUST ME, and when you look back on film music history with re-recordings or even soundtrack releases we can invariably get a glimpse of his name on other releases, i.e. Silva Screen with their Hammer series etc. His contributions to film music as a producer have been many and also as a conductor too.

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But I digress, back to IS PARIS BURNING, let it be sufficient to say just go buy it, you certainly will have PAS DE REGRETS (sorry could not resist). As for me not being struck with the original soundtrack by Jarre maybe I was having an off day or I went deaf for a while because this is a glorious score, superbly written and filled to overflowing with so much patriotism and power, you must have it in your collection. The double CD also contains a handful of other Maurice Jarre scores or suites from them. There are concert suites from THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, THE TRAIN, WEEKEND AT DUNKIRK and also IS PARIS BURNING plus we are treated to the opening titles from THE DAMNED and two bonus tracks which are vocals from IS PARIS BURNING. PARIS EN COLERE sung by Melinda Million and also a choral version of the same piece. Exhaustively extensive sleeve notes by Frank D Wald which are just so informative plus numerous stills and art work from the movie and pictures of Jarre and a front cover that cannot fail to attract anyone’s attention. So in a word FANTASTIQUE and UNE LIBERATION IMPORTANTE.

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NEW FROM DISQUES CINEMUSIQUE.

LA DENTELLIÈRE (THE LACEMAKER / 500 EDITION)
Music composed by Pierre Jansen
DCM 155 • UPC: 771028238538
Release date: December 2, 2013
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A CD premiere from Disques Cinémusique for one of the finest scores by Pierre Jansen, a composer best known for his extensive collaboration with caustic director Claude Chabrol (The Butcher, This Man Must Die).
A faithful adaptation of a novel by Pascal Lainé, winner of France’s prestigious Goncourt Prize, 1977’s La Dentellière (The Lacemaker) tells in a gentle way the transient love affair between a modest trainee hairdresser and a self-centered student belonging to the petite bourgeoisie. Young Isabelle Huppert gives a flawless performance in the lead part, paving the way to one of the most successful careers as an actress in contemporary French cinema.
Director Claude Goretta was not sure about the music he wanted for his beautiful but slow paced movie. He had Schubert in mind but wanted something original and tailored made. Pierre Jansen (born in 1930), managed to deliver a rich and surprisingly diverse score. While remaining subdued in the sound mix of the movie, it can be fully appreciated on our carefully mastered album.
On the one hand, for the prevalent, dramatic part, The Lacemaker offers classical-style pieces performed by a traditional orchestra dominated by strings and woodwinds, highlighting flute, piano and guitar. On the other hand, there is popular source music typical of the seventies, with synthesizer, electric guitars, drums and vocals. These lighter pieces rival the best achievements of this kind of music from pop specialists in vogue at the time. Both genres are grouped into separate blocks. Once again Jansen shows us con brio that a genuine “serious” film composer must be extraordinarily eclectic.
This limited edition of 500 copies is licensed by Gruppo Sugar. Color insert with a 6-page booklet.
LE FAUSSAIRE (CIRCLE OF DECEIT / 500 EDITION)
Music composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre
DCM 154 • UPC: 771028238484
Release date : December 2,  2013
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A less known score from the great Maurice Jarre (1924 – 2009) makes its premiere on CD from the Canadian label Disques Cinémusique.  
 
Volker Schlöndorff’s Circle of Deceit, released in 1981, follows a German reporter (Bruno Ganz) on a mission to Beirut to cover the ongoing conflict between Christians and Muslims. Confronted with the horrors and the complexity of this civil war, he comes to question the usefulness of his profession. On his return to Berlin, in a crisis of conscience, he refuses to sell his article to the newspaper.
 
Schlöndorff starkly shows the harsh reality of a conflict with universal and topical resonance. He denounces at the same time the excesses of the press, which tend to favor sensationalism rather than rigorous analysis of the situation. Against a conventional war movie backdrop, the director takes a documentary approach, incorporating real fight scenes into his narrative. What Circle of Deceit loses as entertainment, it gains in authenticity and realism.
 
Composer Maurice Jarre, who had previously collaborated with Schlöndorff for The Tin Drum, opts for a largely atonal score, but it is not unattractive for that. Though disconcerting at first glance, the cues quickly become enthralling and prove to be very efficient on a dramatic level. The synthesizer and a chorus occasionally support the orchestra dominated by brass. Jarre uses many exotic plucked instruments, as well as a wide array of percussion, providing local color throughout the score. All in all, Circle of Deceit will be a nice surprise for the composer’s fans. Limited edition of 500 licensed by Argos Films. Color insert with a 4-page booklet.

A WALK IN THE CLOUDS.

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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.

MAURICE JARRE.

 

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Maurice Alexis Jarre was born on September 13th 1924 in Lyon France, and commenced his musical training at the age of sixteen. The young Jarre had originally set out to become a radio engineer which was at the request of his Father, who was at the time a technical director for the French broadcasting corporation. Maurice however had other ideas about what he wanted to do in life. After a brief introduction to the career his Father had chosen for him, Jarre decided to leave and go to Paris to study music and made the decision that he would not just be a musician but would study to become a composer and also a conductor. He began by studying solfeggio which is an exercise for voice, harmony and also percussion at the Paris Conservatory of Music. After a period of some three years he became an accomplished performer and one of the featured timpanists within leading Paris orchestras performing under the batons of numerous distinguished conductors, Pierre Monteux and Charles Munch amongst them. It was at this time that the young aspiring composer began to study counterpoint, orchestration and fugue whilst continuing to take tuition in conducting under the watchful eyes of Charles Munch, Arthur Honegger and Louis Aubert. In addition to this Jarre took instruction in electronic music and musique concrete by Pierre Schaefer at the club d’essai of radio diffusion Francaise in Paris. He worked alongside Pierre Boulez as musical director for The Jean-Louis Barrault company, a position he maintained for nearly five years. He then moved on to become the director of music for the national theatre and remained there for almost 13 years. Whilst at the National Theatre he composed nearly sixty scores for productions that included, Don Juan, Macbeth, Murder in the Cathedral, The Hairy Ape, Luther and The Miser and during his time there co-directed the musical comedy LOIN DE RUELL, and collaborated with many well respected writers of the time such as, Harold Pinter, Jean Cocteau and Andre Breton. The composer began to write music for motion pictures in 1951, his first assignment being a short documentary film entitled HOTEL DES INVALIDES for director Georges Franju. After scoring some forty three movies in his native France Jarre worked on his first American produced motion picture which was THE MIRROR CRACKED (1960) which was directed by Richard Fleischer. Jarre collaborated with the director a second time in 1961 for THE BIG GAMBLE and in 1962 worked on Darryl F Zannuck’s account of the D-Day landings in the form of the now classic movie THE LONGEST DAY. It was however after these three movies that Jarre became an example of the so called overnight success scenario when he collaborated with British director David Lean on the epic war movie/biopic LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

 

poster-180x270The composers sprawling and rich use of music in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA raised the cinema going public’s awareness of Jarre, this was not only a major film for the composer, but also an important milestone in his career, as it was to be the beginning of a lasting professional collaboration with director David Lean and also the start of an enduring friendship between the two men. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA also garnered the composer an Academy Award, which was to be the first of three Oscars that he would receive for his work in film, the others being for DOCTOR ZHIVAGO in 1965 and A PASSAGE TO INDIA in 1984, both of which were also directed by David Lean. The composer was to receive a further half a dozen nominations throughout his career for the prestigious Academy Award or Oscar and was either the recipient of, or nominated for numerous other awards and prizes all over the world. During the 1960,s Jarre was one of the most sought after film music composers worldwide, scoring some of Hollywood’s most popular productions and being equally as industrious outside of tinsel town. Arguably the 1960,s, or the Silver age of film music as it was often referred to by aficionados of the soundtrack community was Jarre’s most productive and prolific period within his fifty year career, as it was at this time he created and established his own unique and instantly recognisable style and sound, placing his original musical fingerprint upon numerous motion pictures and establishing himself a composer who was able to adapt easily to every situation and any genre. Films such as THE TRAIN, GRAND PRIX, THE COLLECTOR, VILLA RIDES, THE PROFFESSIONALS,TOPAZ, NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, BEHOLD A PALE HORSE, THE DAMNED, THE LONGEST DAY and IS PARIS BURNING? Were all enriched and benefited from the composers abundant gift for melody and obvious ability to fashion music that enhanced and supported the films story line and imagery, and at the same time was popular away from the motion pictures it was crafted for.

 

Maurice-Jarre-has-died-ag-001The composer continued to be gainfully employed during the next two decades producing impressive, haunting and varying themes within scores for the likes of DEAD POETS SOCIETY, SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, A SEASON IN HELL, MAD MAX-BEYOND THUNDERDOME, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, FATAL ATTRACTION, MOSQUITO COAST, RYANS DAUGHTER, CROSSED SWORDS, ENEMY MINE, GHOST, MOON OVER PARADOR, TAI PAN, EL CONDOR, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE MESSAGE, LION OF THE DESERT, SHOGUN and WITNESS to name but a handful.

Jarre utilized a wide-ranging pallet of instrumentation, fusing with consummate ease conventional symphonic colours and synthetic sounds that not only complimented each other but combined to create memorable and at times magical moments. Since 1951, Jarre has scored nearly 200 motion pictures and collaborated with some of the movie industries most respected directors and producers.
Luchino Visconti, Franco Zefferelli, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Peter Weir, Adrian Lynne, John Huston, Michael Apted, Terence Young and Fred Zinnemann among them. The composers musical output however was not restricted to writing exclusively for the cinema, as during his career he produced compositions for concert hall performance, ballets and also music for the theatre. His ballet NOTRE DAME DE PARIS is part of the permanent repertoire of the Paris Opera and Ballet and also of The Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. During the latter part of the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s the composer gave numerous concerts of his film music and conducted a number of important orchestras during this time, these included, The London Symphony, The London Philharmonic, The Philharmonia, The National Philharmonic, The Japan Philharmonic and The Quebec Symphony. Jarre was honoured by the City of Lyon, and decorated by the French government with the distinguished award, Commander des Arts et Lettres, that was bestowed upon him in recognition for his many contributions to the world of music and arts. Jarre was also given the prestigious Legion d’Honneur by the then French President, Francoise Mitterand. The composers final scoring assignment was in 2001 which was a movie entitled UPRISING. Maurice Jarre died of cancer on March 28th 2009, he left a void within the fraternity of film music composers, that will be impossible to fill.

 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQMApVqU2AA