Notre Dame de Paris: The Music of Maurice Jarre

 -- Review by Roger Hall, 29 September 2012

Notre Dame de Paris: The Music of Maurice Jarre

Music composed by Maurice Jarre.
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Nic Raine.
Concertmaster and Violin Solos: Lucie Svehlova.
Choirmaster: Miriam Nemcova.

Featured Musicians:

SHOGAN: Koto, Shamisen - Gareth Williams
Shakuhachi Flute - Martin Cech
THE MESSAGE: Cimbalon, Arabic Flute and Qanoon - Gareth Williams
THE BLACKL MARBLE: Solo Violin - Lucie Scehlova, Accordian - Pavel Dreser
THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER: Whistler - Gareth Williams
MOURIR A MADRID: Guitars - Jara Novak, David Holy
POPE JOAN: Recorder, Cimbalom, Zither - Gareth Williams,
Wind Chimes - Janet Fitzpatrick
THE BRIDE: Solo Violin - Lucie Scehlova
Album Producer: James Fitzpatrick and Conductor for THE PALAQUIN OF TEARS. Executive Producer: Janet Fitzpatrick.
Recording Engineer: Jan Holzner.
Recorded at Smecky Music Studios, Prague.
Sleeve Notes by James Fitzpatrick and Frank K. DeWald.
Booklet and Cover Artwork by Damien Doherty.
CD One: 16 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 60:00)

tracks 1- 6: Symphonmic Dances from Notre Dame de Paris (1965)
tracks 7 10: Maurice Jarre and the Orient Suite
tracks 11-15: THE MESSAGE - Concert Suite
track 16: THE BLACK MARBLE (World Premiere Recording)(5:41)
CD Two: 15 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 66:32)
track 1: A PASSAGE TO INDIA (2:34)
track 3: MOURIR A MADRID (4:47)
track 6: THE COLLECTOR - Concert Suite (7:41)
track 7: A WALK IN THE CLOUDS (2:56)
track 8: UPRISING - Concert Suite (8:00)
track 9: POPE JOAN (4:18)
track 10: TWO BITS (Unused Score)(3:26)
track 11: THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (4:01)
track 12: THE BRIDE (4:40)
tracks 13-15: Giubelio - Cantata for Orchestra and Chorus

TADLOW 017 (Distributed by Silva Screen Records Ltd)

Tadlow Music continues to record outstanding restorations of film scores.
The past releases include: TRUE GRIT (Elmer Bernstein), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Maurice Jarre), THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (Miklos Rozsa), EL CID (Rozsa), EXODUS (Ernest Gold), , THE ALAMO (Dimitri Tiomkin) -- and all of them I have selected as Editor's Choice, Best of the Month. That's quite an achievement for any record label!

This is yet another worthwhile release for Tadlow and its album producer, James Fitzpatrick. There is a great variety of music on these two CDs, both for films and the concert hall.
The first CD opens with an extensive work (tracks 1-6) for Roland Petit's ballet premiered at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1965. 
For this premiere recording, James Fitzpatrick "devised a Symphonic Dance Suite comprising six of the main scenes." To my ears this music was energetic and well performed but somewhat unsatisfying without seeing the ballet itself. 

The remainder of the music on first CD is first rate Jarre film music. He was very adept at writing for ethnic or non-Western instruments. A special kudo to Gareth Williams for being such a talented musician on so many different ethnic instruments (see above listing). 

In the Orient Suite there are three score excerpts from the 1980s: TAI PAN (1986), SHOGUN (1980), and the rarely seen THE PALANQUIN OF TEARS (1987). 

All have their merits but the last named is the real surprise, with a very appealing and exotic sounding music for the End Titles of THE PALANQUIN OF TEARS, orchestrated by the amazingly prolific Nic Raine. 

Following that Suite is one for THE MESSAGE, the first film filmed both in English and Arabic. This is a very fine score and was nominated for an Oscar in 1978. This score further proves Jarre's ability to absorb the music of whatever culture was being depicted on screen. As 

Jarre said when comparing LAWRENCE OF ARABIA to THE MESSAGE:

There is no comparison in the themes. LAWRENCE is told from the Western point of view, but for THE MESSAGE I had to think like an Arab.

The final selection of the first disc are two excerpts from THE BLACK MARBLE (1980) -- the famous Russian tune known in English as "Dark Eyes" (beautifully played by violinist, Lucie Svehlova) and that is followed by a lovely waltz theme for the End Titles, employing an appealing use of glockenspiel and xylophone, and a nice assist from an accordion played by Pavel Dreser. 

The second CD opens with "Bombay March" from Jarre's third Oscar-winning score for director David Lean's epic, A PASSAGE TO INDIA (1984). It is a lively piece representing British band music of that era with added saxophones

The next track with music from THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (CROSSED SWORDS, 1977-78) opens with a whistling soloist (Gareth Williams) introducing another lively Jarre theme which is expanded with considerable charm by the orchestra, thanks to a fine orchestration by Evan Jolly.

Another score worth mentioning is MOURIR A MADRID (TO DIE IN MADRID) with only two guitars (Jara Novak and David Holy) and some percussion in an orchestration by Leigh Phillips. This is beautifully handled theme, eloquent in its simplicity.

There is also a World Premiere recording from William Wyler's film from a controversial John Fowles novel, THE COLLECTOR. Included on this recording are the first two cues of the film and the End credits by Jarre's longtime orchestrator, Pat Russ. This was Jarre's first Hollywood soundtrack and is darker hued to fit the story of a butterfly collector (Terence Stamp) who "collects" an attractive female college student (Samantha Eggar). The final cue is more optimistic with prominent use of strings and woodwinds and only horns used in the brass section. 

The next track has a Mexican-flavored energetic theme for A WALK IN THE CLOUDS in what James Fitzpatrick describes as "huapango rhythm of alternating 6/8 and 3/4." 

Following Jarre's last score from 2001 for the TV mini series, UPRISING, and the Overture from POPE JOAN (1972), there is another World Premiere recording of TWO BITS (1993) with the End Title music orchestrated by Pat Russ. That is followed by another of Jarre's delightful waltzes from THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS. 

The second disc ends with a cantata for Chorus and Orchestra titled, Giubelio, commissioned by the Vatican in 2000. It consists of three movements: "Heri" (Yesterday) based on Jarre's "Concentration Camp" from LION OF THE DESERT, "Hodie" (Today) from unused music in RIVER WILD, and "Semper" (Always) using the word "peace" sung in 33 different languages. This fourteen minute cantata illustrates Jarre's brilliance in writing for the occasion, in this case for world peace and religious tolerance. 

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus under Nic Raine's direction provide an outstanding performance of this fine cantata.

Because of the efforts of everyone involved -- the producers, orchestra musicians and chorus, the conductor, and recording engineers -- this excellent Tadlow release has been designated for "Special Merit."

A very worthy tribute to the diverse and deligtful music of Maurice Jarre. 

See the memorial tribute to Maurice Jarre in the Spring 2009 issue of

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