The third annual survey of film music from Silva Screen, Film Music 2009 offers eleven tracks of music from recent films (though, oddly, less than half of the films represented here were actually released in 2009). Music from the biggest film of 2009 or indeed any other year opens the album, with “War” from James Horner’s Avatar. It’s a decent performance of a fine piece of action music, though I’m surprised one of the more thematic pieces from the score wasn’t chosen. Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is next, and it’s interesting how much punchier and more impressive this performance sounds than the original soundtrack recording, which is marred by the typically dire technique used to record and mix Zimmer-style soundtracks. Whether the orchestration is actually any different I don’t know, but it certainly sounds like it’s got more punch. One of the highlights is Johan Soderqvist’s exquisite “Eli’s Theme” from Let the Right One In, a gem of a piece – great to see it get some mainstream exposure thanks to this album.
At the other end of the intimacy scale is Christopher Young’s gigantic Drag Me to Hell, represented by a fine performance of the terrific end title piece. The finest piece of John Ottman’s career, “They’ll Remember You” from Valkyrie, is given another good reading. Thomas Newman’s Revolutionary Road seems to have drifted off the radar already, which is a pity because it’s a fine score – exemplified by the beautiful end title piece heard here. The first of two contributions from Alexandre Desplat comes with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which combines a couple of the most delightful themes from that score. James Newton Howard’s “The Exodus” from Defiance is schmaltzy, but one of those pieces hard to dislike given what it is. A.R. Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire made for a great soundtrack and “Latika’s Theme” one of the most memorable of recent times. Another is Desplat’s “Meadow” from Twilight: New Moon, a sumptuous solo piano version of the theme, performed by Stanislav Gallin. Rounding out the disc is a combination of “Hella Bar Talk” and “Enterprising Young Men” from Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek, which is the only piece here where the performance seems a slight let down. Otherwise, the City of Prague Philharmonic under the baton of James Fitzpatrick do an excellent job. This is a nice compilation of good film music from the last couple of years, and while I’m sure people could quibble about some of the things missing (most obviously Up, winner of Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy, Bafta – you name it) this is a decent collection, particularly for those who haven’t bought the full releases for these scores. ***