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Pleasant, gently jazzy romantic score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1995 Paramount Pictures; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A disappointing film - especially considering it was directed by the usually-reliable Sydney Pollack - Sabrina is a slow-moving remake of the 1954 classic. Its problems essentially boil down to casting - for one thing, Harrison Ford may be charming in his way but he's not Humphrey Bogart, and Julia Ormonde is most certainly not Audrey Hepburn - and their complete lack of chemistry makes the romantic story completely unbelievable (Ormonde is secretly in love with Ford's brother, who gets engaged to someone else, and Ford then pretends to be in love with Ormonde for complicated business reasons before inevitably falling in love with her for real). Surprisingly, given the film would seem to suit his usual composer Dave Grusin down to the ground, Pollack went for someone else this time round - but in John Williams he not only found a very safe pair of hands, but also gave the legendary composer a kind of chance to return to his jazzy routes.
The main theme is the score's undoubted highlight, a charming piece of whimsical romance for piano (and swelling strings in its middle section). It's not especially memorable when compared with this composer's huge roster of great themes, but it does the job. Williams goes for a slightly magical feel in the bulk of the underscore itself - much of it is delightful, if very light. The sprightlier pieces like "Linus's New Life" and "Nantucket Visit" show that Williams can do this kind of thing very well, and it's certainly nice to hear something completely different from him (it came in the middle of a run of scores which were anything but light - Jurassic Park and Schindler's List preceded it, Nixon and Sleepers proceeded).
"(In The) Moonlight" is a particularly attractive piece - it's actually an orchestral arrangement of "Moonlight", an original Williams song written for the film (with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman), and sung on the album by Sting. It's a somewhat generic song in its vocal arrangement but really comes to life when the orchestra plays. A more pleasing vocal is the other original Williams song, "How Can I Rememer?", this one sung by Michael Dees. 11 of the album's 51 minutes are taken up by "The Party Sequence", a source cue going through a number of standards, which fits in nicely with Williams's music and is indeed a useful break in the middle of the album considering how slight Williams's music is.
It may be slight, but it's completely charming, and while this will never be an album that will appear in people's Williams Top Tens, it shows that he has far more range than many people give him credit for. The album is still readily available and while I wouldn't recommend it as an essential part of a Williams collection, I would certainly recommend it as an example of an old-fashioned romance score which works perfectly in a modern film.