FILM MUSIC BY HANS ZIMMER
Music performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus, conducted by Nic Raine and James Fitzpatrick. Vocal Soloists: Bronagh Mullian ("Now We Are Free"); Charlotte Kinder ("Kyrie for the Magdalene" and "Vide Cor Meum");Wills Morgan ("Vide Cor Meum).
Produced by James Fitzpatrick. Execuitve Producer: Reynold da Silva. Associate producers: Gareth Williams and Rick Clark. Orchestra Recording Engineers: Jan Holzer nad John Luard Timperley. Art Direction and Design: Damien Doherty. Orchestra Recorded at Barrandov Studios - Smecky Soundstage, Prague.
2 CDs (Disc One = 51:23/ Disc Two = 55:49)
Silva Screen Records SILCD 1238
This is another Silva compilation in their ongoing series devoted to one film composer's music. In this compilation there are 18 film scores represented: GLADIATOR, THE THIN RED LINE, THELMA & LOUISE, THE DA VINCI CODE, RAIN MAN, DAYS OF THUNDER, PEARL HARBOR, THE LAST SAMURAI, CRIMSON TIDE, GREEN CARD, REGARDING HENRY, BATMEN BEGINS, HANNIBAL, TRUE ROMANCE, DRIVING MISS DAISY, THE ROCK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL.
As usual with these compilations, all of these films are presented with main themes or short suites. Several of them are not by Hans Zimmer, such as the lovely "Kyrie for the Magdalene" by Richard Harvey from THE DA VINCI CODE, "Vide Cor Meum" by Patrick Cassidy from HANNIBAL, and "Symphonic Suite" by Klaus Badelt from THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. These examples only serve to point out that Hans Zimmer has often used other composers to fill out his scores. Is that a good or bad thing? I'll leave that up to the listener to decide.
There are also the collaborations with Lisa Gerrard on "Now We Are Free" from GLADIATOR (a bonus track on disc two includes an instrumental arrangement of this theme by Nic Raine), and James Newton Howard on BATMEN BEGINS.
Some of Zimmer's scores have memorable themes. On the first disc that includes the hypnotic "Chevaliers de Sangreal" from THE DA VINCI CODE (track 5, 4:08), and the suite from THE LAST SAMURAI (track 11, 6:29). From the second disc there is the catchy "Restless Elephants" from GREEN CARD (track 3, 6:13), and the xylophone solos in "You're So Cool" from TRUE ROMANCE (track 7, 3:43) which sounds similar to a classical piece by German composer, Carl Orff.
The singing by various soloists and the Crouch End Festival Chorus is very good as well as the playing of The City of Prgaue Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound quality as usual with these Silva releases is excellent. The CD notes by James Fitzpatrick provide a good background of Zimmer's music career.
Yet the overall feeling I get from listening to these CDs is the shallow nature of many of the themes, for example the pompous ones from CRIMSON TIDE and THE ROCK, or the jazz-rock "Walking Talking Man" from REGARDING HENRY. This is a really mixed bag of themes, which unfortunately is what I believe is Zimmer's problem. At times he can be extremely effective, while at other times his music sounds like it's just filling up time or hanging onto one thematic idea for too long. One example of this is found in the long spinning out of a short rhythmic theme for the "End Title" from DRIVING MISS DAISY (Disc Two, track 8). The theme is a catchy one but it wears out its welcome.
Another drawback is the unappealing yellow-orange art design for the CD booklet and case which makes the text and track titles difficult to read. Why can't designers realize that it is better to have the color design not overwhelm the text? This is a common problem with Silva releases. Are they trying to be just "cool" and appeal to the youth market?
If you are a big fan of Hans Zimmer's film music you may want to get this two disc compilation. It features very good performances and excellent sound.
Yet there remains a small amount of meat on the bones of these Zimmer film scores.
--Roger Hall, 12 July 2007
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