Before breaking into the mainstream with his lush music for Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano, Michael Nyman was best known for his association with avant-garde director Peter Greenaway, and his 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. Nyman/Greenaway Revisited, the second volume in The Composer's Cut Series, highlights these early soundtracks, and the best-known selections are brought together in revitalized performances from 2005 by the Michael Nyman Band, with the exception of Memorial, which dates back to 1992. Of all the tracks, Memorial has become one of Nyman's signature themes and has had an independent concert life outside the score for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; one wonders why it did not receive a fresh makeover considering its popularity and prominence in Nyman's repertoire. However, there is no sense of incongruity between this recording and the others, because Nyman's ensemble consistently plays with energy and edginess, and there has been no diminution in its powers since its first recordings of these cutting-edge pieces in the 1980s and '90s. Despite the intervening years, the "hot" sound that is characteristic of Nyman's recordings also appears here, and the production by Abbey Road Studios gives the album a clean and even reproduction. This disc is recommended as a good introduction to Nyman's modular style of minimalist music, though collectors who already have the original soundtrack albums may only want it for the sake of completeness.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson