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Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean
by Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean

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Maurice Jarre:  A Tribute to David Lean (Soundtrack) by Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean
Composed by Maurice Jarre
Milan Records (2007)

Rating: 8/10

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Listen to this soundclip of Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean Remembrance (354 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean Offering (357 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean

Doctor Zhivago (314 kb)

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“While there are other performances and recordings of some of these classic scores that I consider "better" for various reasons, this release remains special in that Jarre, himself, is conducting in direct tribute to the master film-maker, David Lean.”

Do You Think This is Just Any DVD?
by Christopher Coleman

Director David LeanOne of the most celebrated directors of the last 50 years has been David Lean - and most deservingly so. The visionary director will long be remembered and honored for his epic works: THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and A PASSAGE TO INDIA. His films have stood the test of time and remain awe-inspiring to this day. The name, "Maurice Jarre" became inexorably connected to the David Lean with their first collaborative effort of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA back in 1961. Beyond co-workers, Lean and Jarre became great friends.  Only a few weeks after the after the world lost the great director in 1991, Maurice Jarre conducted the ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA in a concert-tribute to his friend. Now, some fifteen years after this live concert was recorded, MILAN RECORDS, releases a two-disc special edition DVD + compact disc set entitled, MAURICE JARRE: A TRIBUTE TO DAVID LEAN.

My review here covers the release as a whole, both the DVD featuring the live concert and the CD which features an audio- only recording of the same concert. Before covering the concert itself, there are a few additional features included on the DVD that deserve mentioning. Now, what I personally dove into before anything else was the interview with MAURICE JARRE. The brief interview is conducted in French (which makes it feel much longer than its 35 minute run time), but it does offer English subtitles. In it, Jarre shares about his beginnings with Lean all the way to his final conversation with director only 3 days before Lean's death.  He goes on to talk about some of his unique choices in instrumentation and ground-breaking employment of synthesizers and how Lean influenced him in that regard.  The interview does end a little abruptly...which left me wanting more, so I quickly navigated to the concert recording with Maurice Jarre's audio commentary turned on.

On the DVD and CD, each performed selection was specifically arranged by Jarre for this concert. He uniquely edits highlights, which average about 10 minutes each, from four seminal collaborations between himself and the director.  On the DVD, as each suite is performed we get to view Jarre's selected images from the films, intercut with shots of Jarre himself, the orchestra, and occasional wideshots of the audience. The edited footage from the films was a nice visual tribute to David Lean, yet Jarre's evocative music is really all that is needed to recall the vivid images they were originally set to.

Opening both the DVD and CD is a stirring piece entitled "Remembrance." The piece was written in honor of David Lean and is contains many of Maurice Jarre's signature sounds: strong percussion, lyrical motifs performed by strings. Additionally, he delivers a bit of "royalty" into the piece with bold brass fanfares. In all, a fitting tribute to the memory of Lean. Also included is music from Jarre's original scores starting with RYAN'S DAUGHTER and concluding with LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. In between, is PASSAGE TO INDIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.  Each of the performances is ripe with feeling. To this day I still continue to battle within on whether I enjoy the scores for LAWRENCE or ZHIVAGO more.  However, in the case of this concert, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO suite comes out on top...despite not having any balalaikas in the orchestra whatsoever!

Yet another very meaningful selection is found on track 5, "Offering."  This was written specifically for David Lean and Lady Sandra Lean's wedding and presented to them as a gift from Jarre.  The piece contains another beautiful theme very much in the spirit of his well-known scores, but is also mindful of his work for the seriously underappreciated film, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS. Within the piece are a number of brief quotes from all of the film scores played at this concert, so it is a most natural fit. As Lady Sandra Lean was actually in attendance of this concert it certainly had to be a very emotional experience for, not only her, but for Jarre and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as they performed the very personal music.

Following "Offering" on the DVD is a special performance of a significant scene from A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Here, Jarre conducts the orchestra as though they were recording the actual score for this scene - making this particular performance of even greater interest. On the big screen plays the famous garden statue-monkey-scene including the timing marks from which Jarre has to time his conducting. In addition, a large clock is positioned close by to Jarre from which he must also take his cues. Listening (and reading the English subtitles) to Jarre's commentary over this part of the concert, he makes it clear how much pressure he felt in scoring this scene perfectly. As he states, "Here, it was all or nothing." There was no chance of another take, they had to get it right...and did. It's a wonderful keyhole into the immense and detailed world of film scoring.

The CD and DVD conclude with the suite of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. But on the DVD, at its close, we are see that Maurice Jarre is visibly moved as the audience gives he and the orchestra a well deserved ovation. He manages only a few words before hurrying offstage, "Thank you. I think David would be happy."

It should be noted that there have been a number of different releases of this particular concert on CD by Milan dating back to 2002.  There was also a French release of a similar 2-disc (DVD + CD) package entitled, LEAN BY JAR (2003), also from Milan.  While there are other performances and recordings of some of these classic scores that I consider "better" for various reasons, this release remains special in that Jarre, himself is conducting in direct tribute to the master film-maker, David Lean.  It is almost palpable that both Jarre and the orchestra are giving it there all and the overall emotion of the performance overcomes the somewhat-dated production value.  Still, this is a slice of music history that we should be grateful to share in.  If you are a fan of the works of director David Lean and MAURICE JARRE, then this 2-disc release is well worth your time.

Rating: 8/10

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Remembrance 3:52  ****
2 "Ryan's Daughter" Suite 8:46  ***
3 "A Passage to India" Suite 10:05  ***
4 "Doctor Zhivago" Suite 9:52  ****
5 Offering 3:14  ****
7 "Lawrence of Arabia" Suite 12:51  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 51 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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