This intriguing album is organized around music from films by new wave directors, mostly French, from Godard and Truffaut in the '60s to Jacques Audiard in the '90s. Award-winning film composer Alexandre Desplat and Frédéric Verrières have arranged excerpts from the scores for Traffic Quintet, the French ensemble made up of a string quartet plus double bass. The arrangements are uniformly excellent -- idiomatic, jazzy, and mellow, with a dash of tart astringency. The composers include Antoine Duhamel, Ennio Morricone, Gato Barbieri, as well as Georges Delerue, and somewhat cryptically, Maurice Jarre. (Who'd have thought that David Lean's A Passage to India was an exercise in new wave filmmaking?) Four excerpts from Last Tango in Paris, composed by Gato Barbieri and expertly arranged by Frédéric Verrières, form the centerpiece of the album. The music seems strongly influenced by Piazzolla -- not that that's a bad thing -- and is notable for its rhythmic vitality and intensely evocative atmospherics. Desplat can be forgiven for leaping at the chance to arrange his own scores for an ensemble as fine as Traffic; his works make up about a third of the CD, but, hey, they're some of the most musically inventive and memorable tracks, so there's no reason to complain. Traffic Quintet plays with the finesse of a classical string quartet, but also has the cool urbanity that's ideal for this repertoire -- this is definitely a group to watch out for. Naïve's sound is immaculately clean. The disc should be of interest to fans of French cinema, film scores, and crossover new music ensembles.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Work(s)~Garde à vue (Under Suspicion): Chantal Martineau / Le Roi de cœur (King of Hearts): Valse tordue