Gloria Cheng

Montage: Great Film Composers and the Piano

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Props go to pianist Gloria Cheng for putting this program together in the first place; getting well-paid film composers to take time out to write abstract music was likely an arduous task. Montage is a collection of solo piano pieces by film composers, all of them famous and top-rank, and a couple, John Williams and Randy Newman, household names. All are recorded premieres, and all but Alexandre Desplat's L'Etreinte were written for Cheng. None completely departs from his cinematic style, and none replicates it completely. The program, in fact, is organized more or less from least to most cinematic, although some might find Surface Tension by Don Davis (who wrote the score to The Matrix) the most modern. The two most accessible scores, as might be expected, are those by Williams and Newman, but it would be wrong to merely expect a reduction of some discarded film music. Each composer responded to the project with a rather personal essay; Newman takes as his subject the lineage of film music composers (Alfred, Emil, and Lionel) in his family, and Williams offers a still more original concept: imagined conversations among jazz musicians. The difficult modern scores are smoothly rendered by Cheng, who clearly had fun with the project. It's a find for film music fans.

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