Latest reviews of new albums:
American Friends
  • Composed by Georges Delerue
  • Music Box Records / 2013 / 39m

Based in part on the life of his great grandfather, American Friends is a 1991 film set in the late 19th century, written by and starring the great Michael Palin as an Oxford professor who meets an American woman and her adopted daughter while on holiday in Switzerland; they later turn up unexpectedly at the university and both seem separately drawn to him.  The score was one of the last by the great Georges Delerue, recorded around 18 months before his death.  The main title is so typical of the composer – somehow achieving the duality of the stateliness and reverence of the institution of the university while giving warmth and personality to the main character.  This is followed by “To the Alps” in which Delerue again achieves the impossible, somehow perfectly conveying the incredible cold of the landscape with music of incredible warmth.

Perhaps the pick of the themes is introduced in “Reverend Francis Ashby”, featuring one of those sumptuous violin solos that is unmistakably Delerue.  I don’t think there’s another film composer who could write a heartbreaking melody quite like Delerue – and he did it over and over again.  There is a tragic sadness to the melody, explored further in “College Rules”, which is jaw-dropping.  There are a few darker moments – the ominous “Unwanted Visitors” being the pick – but as ever it is in the emotion-packed melodies that Delerue shines.  Music Box’s album marks the first ever release from this score, features perfect sound and informative notes by Gergely Hubai.  The music isn’t quite on the top tier of Delerue but there’s still so much quality here and above all so much heartfelt feeling – the sound of a composer of vast experience simply doing what he did best.

Rating: **** | |

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