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THE ULTIMATE GIFT
Beautiful, melodic score sometimes moving, always charming
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 The Ultimate Gift LLC; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A rich young man is given a series of tasks to perform in his billionairre father's will before he will be given his vast inheritance. In the process, he becomes an all-round better person. The Ultimate Gift was scored by the talented Mark McKenzie, whose growing roster of scores includes many sumptuous melodic treats, particularly in the outstanding The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca and Blizzard. For this score he has combined the orchestral sound usually associated with him with some other elements, including a surprising hint of bluegrass.
The score opens with its main title piece, deceptively dark to begin with before growing into its lush, virtually Delerue-standard main theme for the strings; McKenzie has demonstrated considerable talent in the past for this kind of thing and it's always good to hear. "City Boy in Texas" is one of the bluegrass pieces; "Bum's Bench" an enjoyable little comic piece mixing the orchestra with subtle pop elements. As you might imagine, "Emily's Chemo" introduces a tragic sound, with a moving theme for piano and strings which is vintage McKenzie.
The score continues with a combination of these styles. There is an injection of colour in "Arrival in Ecuador" with guitar and pan flutes, which comes a little out of left field but is welcome. "Plane Wreckage" is a moving piece with an almost elegaic presentation of the main theme. The following piece, "Captivity", is another outstanding portrait of hope rising from despair. Proof that he can expand beyond that style is provided by McKenzie in the dramatic "The Firing Squad", a darkly-hued piece of action music which is something of a departure for the composer.
The score builds to a beautiful conclusion, with the rousing "Redemption" being a true highlight. McKenzie is very adept at this type of thing, and it is always welcome to hear a new score from him. This album is well-produced and a very nice length for enjoying and comes recommended to those who enjoy melodic, tuneful film music.