Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman: Soundtracks

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Michael Nyman's film music has evolved through several important stages over the years, and the box set Michael Nyman: Soundtracks gives a well-rounded presentation of three notable phases of his creativity. Early in his career, Nyman was closely associated with the avant-garde films of director Peter Greenaway, and his high-energy, Baroque-flavored, and pop-infused minimalist scores for The Draughtsman's Contract; A Zed and Two Noughts; Drowning by Numbers; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; and Prospero's Books are well-remembered by admirers of these art-house classics. A signature tune for the composer was Memorial, extracted from the opening of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, and its original version is included on the disc Nyman/Greenaway Revisited, along with revitalized performances of Nyman's early selections. Considering the popularity and prominence of Memorial in Nyman's repertoire, one wonders why it did not receive a fresh makeover here. Close to the time when he and Greenaway parted company, Nyman achieved wide public recognition for his lush, neo-Romantic music for Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano, and the number The Heart Asks for Pleasure First became quite popular in many arrangements. Ensuing years found Nyman adapting his modular approach to minimalism into a more flexible idiom, and his brooding score for The Libertine finds many of the old, hard edges rubbed smooth to reveal richly burnished harmonies and a generally warmer expression. Almost all of the performances in this collection were drawn from The Composer's Cut series by the Michael Nyman Band, and date from 2005, with the exception of Memorial, which dates from 1992. This set is recommended as a good introduction to Nyman's music, though collectors who already have the original soundtrack albums may only want to own it for the sake of completeness.

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