Classics at the Movies

ABC Classics 476 122-6
TPT: 2:35:27

reviewed by Neville Cohn

 

 

This 2-CD pack is tailor-made for movie buffs.

A little test! What have the following movies in common?

Heartburn, Runaway Bride, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Heartbreakers. Well? Give up?

Then try finding the common denominator of these movies. Titanic, Cool Runnings, Austen Powers, Strictly Ballroom, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, True Lies.

Give up again? Here are the answers.

What the first group of movies has in common is Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. It is on the soundtrack of each of the four motion pictures above. And Strauss’ Blue Danube is on the soundtracks of all the movies in the second group.

Classics at the Movies

Classics at the Movies

 

 
 

 

 

This fascinating 2-CD pack has more than two and a half hours’ worth of music enshrined in film soundtracks. And movie enthusiastics will doubtless take long trips down memory lane as 33 tracks jog their recollections of this film or that. And even those not particularly interested in cinema can still derive a good deal of listening pleasure from these mostly well-loved classics, all of which are played by Australian soloists and orchestras.

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra is represented on no fewer than five tracks, including a stirring account of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries that’s on a number of soundtracks such as Apocalypse Now and The Blues Brothers.

David Measham coaxes a splendidly expressive response from the WASO in the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana as well as Handel’s celebrated Largo from Xerxes which, incidentally, features on the sound track of Dangerous Liaisons.

Allegri’s Miserere, some of the most hauntingly beautiful music ever written – it figures on the soundtracks of, inter alia, Chariots of Fire, Maurice, Angela’s Ashes and The Hunger – is given a deeply felt, profoundly moving interpretation by vocal group Cantillation with Jane Sheldon thoroughly convincing as she presents the villainously difficult overarching soprano line.

Although I am not in favour of tracks that are excerpts from larger works such as sonatas, concertos or symphonies, it would be churlish to deny that, on these two CDs, such cuts as there are have been made with sensitivity, as in an extract from the first movement of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2. Isador Goodman is on wonderful form here ­ his playing is stylish, fluent and romantic in the best sense. (Can we expect ABC Classics to bring out a CD retrospective of Goodman’s recordings over the years? This fine pianist is in danger of becoming one of Australia’s disappearing men of music.) And fans of the movie Brief Encounter might recall how beautifully Goodman’s playing enhanced on-screen action. And mezzo soprano Lauris Elms gives incontrovertible evidence of vocal greatness in the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen which featured on the soundtracks of, among others, Someone Like You, Serendipity and Meet the Parents.

A generous compilation – there are 33 tracks on 2 CDs – includes Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Adagios by Albinoni and Barber, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (which appears on soundtracks of at least eleven movies), Boccherini’s Minuet and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

Not the least of the pleasures of this 2-CD pack are Adam Bowens’ excellent liner notes, treasure trove for collectors of cinematic trivia.

Copyright 2004 Neville Cohn

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *