The music of Lawrence of Arabia hits you right from the start of the film. The bold introduction on timpani and percussion is like no other film score, and then the lush string sounds of the main theme transport you into a world of sweeping deserts, where life and civilization face a constant struggle against the elements. But let's briefly return to 1962 to see how that music came about. Maurice Jarre wasn't the only composer considered for the role. He had scored a string of French films but was relatively unknown in Hollywood. Yet director David Lean must have felt Jarre was the ideal man for the job, and the results speak for themselves. The music won the Best Score Oscar against some very strong contenders, and the partnership between David Lean and Maurice Jarre would go on to produce memorable films and music for "Doctor Zhivago", "Ryan's Daughter" and "A Passage to India".
The original soundtrack album was a best seller but it missed out a large chunk of the score. Now Tadlow Music have released the definitive version - the first recording of the complete score, including music cut from the film. Also modern recording techniques have enabled the music to be captured in superb detail, whereas some key atmospheric instruments were barely audible on the original soundtrack. Both conductor Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra have a wealth of experience in recording and re-creating film scores. The only regret is that Maurice Jarre himself was unable to appreciate the result since he passed away last year. Nevertheless both Nic Raine and James Fitzpatrick (Tadlow founder and album producer) knew Jarre well, so we can rest assured that they understand the composer's wishes.
Maurice Jarre has a keen dramatic sense and his film music effortlessly tells the story in extended action scenes with little or no dialogue, though equally his music can sit unobtrusively in the background and convey atmosphere and tension as the situation demands. The composer has a reputation for exploring new ideas particularly in terms of instrumentation. Pushing the envelope in this way has always giving his music a distinctive and exotic quality. These attributes come across strongly in Lawrence of Arabia, where drums and percussion play a powerful role (Jarre himself was an experienced percussionist). He also uses the exotic sound of the zither and the otherworldly sound of three Ondes Martenots (an early Electronic Keyboard instrument).
There is so much good music here that it is hard to single out individual tracks. But some tracks with notable instrumentation include "Night and Stars" where a flute weaves a sleepy version of the main theme accompanied by twinkling of harp, piano, zither and ondes martenot; "Gasim Lost in the Desert" evokes the blistering heat of the desert with a shimmering 3-note trill on the ondes martenot while a snare drum and other percussion convey an ever-present threat; faced with the additional threat of quicksand, a lot of instrumental effects create an eerie soundscape in "Sinai Desert / After Quicksands / Hutments / Suez Canal"; and "In Whose Name do you Ride?" is an interesting track, edited for the film, but included here in full so you can appreciate the great orchestral counterpoint as the music builds up over 2 minutes. Jarre uses an authentic sounding Bugle Call in the track "Bugle Call / Lawrence on the Terrace / Intermission" but through most of the film, the British army is represented by a March called "The Voice of the Guns" composed by Kenneth J. Alford ("The British March King" real name F. J. Ricketts, 1881-1945, who composed Colonel Bogey and many other marches). Jarre adapts and arranges this March to suit the needs of the film, though you can hear the original March which is included as a bonus track on CD2.
The overall package comes with a substantial and informative booklet, and the second CD showcases other rare film music by Jarre. The overall quality of the package is excellent, and being a double-album it is also very good value. Though classed as a collector's edition, availability should not be a problem since it is not a limited edition. Try this link at Amazon.co.uk, but also check out the Tadlow Music website which includes some interesting bonus material including sample tracks and a video of the recording sessions.
SYMPHONIC DANCE SUITE from THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN