Jarre’s epic score released in its complete form for the first time.
Michael Quinn 2010-11-22
Maurice Jarre’s sweeping, sun-scorched score for Lawrence of Arabia finally gets a complete release half a century after the epic film’s original release in 1962.
All 77 minutes of Jarre’s pungent music – percussion-led, string-drenched, exotically-accented – have been recorded for the first time on this two-disc offering from Silva Screen that comes with a substantial number of bonus items drawn from his extensive cinema and television output.
Jarre pulled out the stops for David Lean’s epic film. His 104-piece orchestra included 60 massed strings, 11 percussionists, two grand pianos and harps, and no less than three Ondes Martenots – the eerie, early electronic instrument championed by Olivier Messiaen and an array of composers stretching from Shostakovich to Frank Zappa.
Although extending the score to symphony-sized length exposes some passages that sound less inspired than more familiar themes and cues, the memorable main theme, hypnotically sun-bleached and unabashedly romantic, still sounds as thrilling as ever. This rousing all-new recording by the City of Prague Philharmonic conducted by Nic Raine uses the soundtrack’s original orchestrations by Gerard Schurmann and vividly captures an orchestra fully attuned to and embracing Jarre’s elegant, exotically-edged bombast.
Especially satisfying is Raine’s feeling for detail, his strings silky and sensuous, woodwinds perky and poetic by turns, brass lowering malevolently or full-throated and crowing like roosters at dawns. His sense of drama is no less acute, with Jarre’s thumping signature percussion given a satisfyingly full head of steam.
The bonus disc extends the playing time by more than 70 minutes to pack in a baker’s dozen of titles, including an alternative Lawrence of Arabia cue and the original version of Kenneth J Alford’s The Voice of the Guns, a track used in one of Lean’s most memorable set-piece action scenes. The major item here, alongside extracts from a diverse range of films that include Ryan’s Daughter, Dead Poet’s Society and Solar Crisis, is the vivacious symphonic dance suite taken from The Magician of Lublin. The monumental concert suite from Jesus of Nazareth offers a welcomed opportunity to hear key themes from one of Jarre’s finest television scores.
This attractive limited collector’s edition comes with an illustrated booklet and superb track-by-track notes.