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Largo Winch II
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • Varese Sarabande / 2011 / 64:26

Despite becoming one of Hollywood’s most in-demand film composers, Alexandre Desplat still finds time to work on films from his homeland; having worked on the first film in 2008, he returns to score Largo Winch II (also known as The Burma Conspiracy), based on the French graphic novels by Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq.  The album could hardly get off to a better start – a sexy opening, with more than a hint of John Barry and James Bond, and a phenomenal action track, “Largo Virtuoso”, which leaves one hoping that if at some point Desplat grows tired of working on countless multi-award-winning films which manage to combine genuine commercial success with overwhelmingly positive critical reaction (and who wouldn’t?), perhaps he might find the time to throw in some brainless thrillers.

After that amazing opening, unfortunately large periods pass by without a great deal really happening.  Lengthy segments of suspense do little to engage the listener in the periods in between the brilliantly breathless, brassy action music (like “Infiltration”) or more upbeat action, with drum loops and such (“Escape from the Camp” is the kind of thing Alan Silvestri was probably trying to write in The A-Team, at least before it adopts that Barry/Bond swagger for its second half).  Some of it is engaging – and indeed, some of it would be necessary to provide the breathing space which is always needed in action-heavy scores – unfortunately a reasonable amount of it is not.  It’s powderpuff stuff by Alexandre Desplat standards, but the good material is so good that I can’t help but recommend this, even though the album (only actually released in stores in Europe, despite being on the American Varese Sarabande label) needs some real pruning to make it more satisfying.  ***

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Thursday 21 April, 2011 at 15:35

    Huh. I don’t recall loving the first Largo Winch, but I’m going to spin it again today to refresh my memory. Is the action music here in the vein of what Desplat did in the first film, or is he treading new ground this time around? (Not to mix metaphors or anything. . .)

  2. My Name Is Tim (Reply) on Thursday 21 April, 2011 at 17:57

    This isn’t by any means a bad score, but my two biggest complaints about it are that 1. Desplat isn’t really good at implementing electronics in his music. I find him far more interesting when using full orchestral support. There are some exceptions…the electronics in Golden Compass, and Curious Case of Benjamin Button I found them more subtle enough in those scores to not care.
    In both the Largo Winch scores those electronics are more present, and it almost seems like the orchestral writing had to be simplified a bit to support them.

    The second thing I don’t like is Varese’s treatment of the soundtrack release. I know these days, “more is better”, but too much of a good thing can be bad. There is a lot of filler here, lots of music I’m sure is functional but not meant to be obvious within its context. So including those extra tracks spoils the opportunity to produce a well balanced soundtrack album for listening enjoyment in mind. If this CD was trimmed down about 20 min, I’m sure it would have earned more favorable reviews. The perception of Desplat’s sophisticated writting ability enjoyable music would be more obvious.

    My own personal track list.
    13, 2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 19, 18,10 its runs about 42 mins, and is the way I prefer to listen to it.

    I also recommend Desplat’s score to Hostage, I think its a more achieved Action/Thriller than Largo Winch.