Great Film Composers and the Piano

JOHN WILLIAMS (b.1932): Conversations, BRUCE BROUGHTON (b.1945): 5 Pieces, DON DAVIS (b.1957): Surface Tension, RANDY NEWMAN (b.1943): Family Album: Homage to Alfred, Emil and Lionel Newman, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT (b.1961): L'Étreinte from 3 Études, MICHAEL GIACCHINO (b.1967): Composition 430.

Catalogue Number: 02Q066

Label: Harmonia Mundi

Reference: HMU 907635

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Film composers often seem to adopt a thorny, modernist vocabulary when writing for the concert hall, as though as to establish their credentials away from the all-embracing populism of their film-related output. That is largely not the case here; the music is all perfectly accessible, though it inhabits a wide range of styles. Desplat's piece is a neo-romantic ballade, entirely tonal and melodic, with suggestions of impressionism and a bluesy tinge to a central episode, while Giacchino contributes a characterful scena based on recollections of his childhood, that it is easy to imagine in orchestrated guise as accompaniment to a film scene. Broughton's Pieces form a substantial suite of character pieces, very pianistic, variably but firmly based in tonality, with a strong sense of personal identity; Newman's tribute to his film-scoring uncles is also a suite of five pieces, but in a far more 'popular' idiom; easy-going, Gershwinesque jazz-derived and popular ballad styles. Despite a rather impenetrable program note, Davis' piece is not that unapproachable, and is one of the most original and striking here. It consists of episodes in different textures and articulation, technically challenging and approaching atonality, at least in parts. Williams' substantial output for the concert platform has always been more harmonically adventurous than his distinctive bold neo-romantic film style, and this is the case with these five imaginary conversations between notable figures in the history of jazz. The music is very freely chromatic in a post-late-Scriabin sense, not especially 'jazzy', but serious and concentrated. Gloria Cheng (piano).

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