Silva Screen Music is a class outfit, they release really good music and great collections from some of the top composers and movies of today. In the past we looked at their collections of music from Hans Zimmer and James Horner, as well as a well put together a great best of album from the Transformers trilogy. Today we take a peak at their big end of the year release, ‘Film Music 2011’.
This collection, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic and London Music Works, is a highlight reel from the most high profile film scores of the year. The music chosen for this set isn’t necessarily the very best music of the year, but it is certainly a snap shot of what 2011 was for film and film music. We are in award season, so we will have plenty of lists and collections of the “best” music, but in this album you will find tracks that rank among many fan’s “favorites” of the year.
Interestingly enough, many of the movies represented on this album are scores I have previously reviewed, but only twice are one of my favorite tracks actually on this album. At first this caused me to roll my eyes and dread the listening experience. Not because I disliked the tracks, but because I felt they were passing over the better tracks for more obvious and less interesting choices.
Thankfully that ends up not being the case. The individual song selections are usually inspired choices that encapsulate the score well. The only major exception is my least favorite track, but we will get to that in a bit. The majority of the music is well chosen an well performed, making this album a great listening experience.
One of the major issues whenever you are dealing with re-recordings from different orchestras is the performance. There is an intangible quality that original recordings have, usually never to be captured again. There are one or two tracks that really suffer in this regard, but on the whole the album is incredibly well performed. There is little to be disappointed about here.
One interesting revelation that I had several times while listening to this collection was just how good some of the themes that I over looked the first time around really are. Particularly the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides mermaid them and the Transformers: Dark of the Moon ‘It’s Our Fight’ track.
The former is a deeply Gothic and ethereal theme that fills the mind with nightmares of face to face encounters will dangerous mer-folk. I know I mentioned in the original review that I liked all the new themes, but upon further reflection this is clearly the best new music from that album.
The latter is a victim of what I like to call a ‘Jablonsky’. Named after the composer of the Transformer films, a ‘Jablonsky’ is when a perfectly great arrangement of a great theme gets totally over looked because there were several other perfectly great arrangements of a very similar theme already discovered on the album. This instance has happened with all three of the Transformer soundtracks, as well as the score from The Island. The kicker to the whole thing is, I actually prefer this track to most of the ones I choose as my favorites last summer. Go figure.
Three Favorite Tracks:
Lily’s Theme (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2) by Alxeandre Desplat – I am thrilled that this track is on this album. One regret I have had while writing these film score reviews is that I can’t god back and make amendments. When I originally reviewed this score I focused way to much on the larger scope of the entire Harry Potter franchise. A great disservice to this beautiful theme that should have made it to my favorite list. Desplat is some how able to infuse this simple, beautiful little theme with all of the emotional weight that Harry himself has to carry. It is this tune that introduces us to the final movie in the epic series and in retrospect is the perfect theme to represent Lily, Harry’s mother, and her eternal love that saved her son and eventually all humanity.
Super 8 Suite (Super 8 ) by Michael Giacchino – I was not able to review this soundtrack at the time, due mostly to a stacked summer season and an odd delayed release of the music. I am glad I have a chance to talk about it here because Giacchino is one of my favorite working composers and his score for Super 8 is fantastic. One of the things about this score that strikes me as incredibly interesting is parsing down the influences. Super 8 was made as a love letter to Spielberg-ian cinema and as a result the score almost has to be a love letter to John Williams music. In a lot of ways that is what Giacchino has done, but I hear more, I hear strong hints of Jerry Goldsmith and even a solid touch of John Barry too. This score is a love letter to a classier age of film music, where the legends of today were merely the giants of yesterday. This suite encapsulates so much of why I love film music, and the power it has to move you.
Magneto (X-Men: First Class) by Henry Jackman – Man oh man, this was a break out year for Henry Jackman. From the surprisingly great Puss in Boots score, to the epic music from First Class, Jackman rose up in 2011 and made people take notice. By a wide margin the best villain theme, not just this year, but in a long time, ‘Magneto’ is such an energetic piece of music it might as well be a living breathing character in and of itself. I am an X-Men fanboy, so pardon a little bias in this choice, but what Jackman did in juggling period sounds with modern, rhythmic beats is just stunning. It is ageless and modern, timeless and classic all at once. The biggest sign of this as an excellent piece of film music, it even ended up in a major trailer only a few months after release. This music is inspiring, bravo Mr. Jackman, can’t wait to hear whats next.
Least Favorite Track:
I, Drive (Drive) by Cliff Martinez – The Drive soundtrack was very good. I think I was a bit harsh on it last year when I gave it a 3 out of 5, to my defense I hadn’t seen the movie yet, and it plays so well in that context. That said, this is one of the few times on this album I just didn’t like the performance. I am not sure how to pin point it, but it just sounds off, sounds fake in a way. Plus there were several better tracks they could have, and frankly should have chosen to represent this film. I don’t hold this track against the fine folks at London Music Works, but they have done better, and this is the only track I actively skip on the album, and that is saying something when there is a Twilight piece on here as well.
In the end this is a wonderful album that I urge anyone interesting in film scores to check out. If you are new to film music fandom, this is a great place to start, you get a wide range of score types, and there is a connection you will feel with at least some of these movies. I hope Silva Screen keeps up these annual releases, because I can see them becoming a favorite January tradition on my iPod.
Final Score for Film Music 2011
4.5 out of 5