Henry Mancini

The Godfather & Other Movie Themes

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Despite its somewhat misleading title, this Henry Mancini album isn't the cinematic music compilation one might expect. Instead, it pairs together two different concert sets: one is a film theme set that was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976, and the other is a set of all-original orchestral compositions recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra Pops in 1969. The film music set is the more interesting of the two programs. It covers a wide range of soundtrack styles, blending cues from Mancini's own soundtracks with those of other composers. Sadly, the medleys that dominate this part of this disc don't always work: for instance, the flow of the "Music by Nino Rota" medley is disrupted by the placement of an up-tempo theme in the middle of slower, more romantic pieces. "The French Connection," a medley of themes by French composers Michel Legrand and Francis Lai, is a much stronger medley: it maintains a melodic, romantic feel throughout that allows the work of the two composers to blend together seamlessly. The rest of the album consists of a series of original orchestral instrumentals penned by Mancini. After a series of pleasant but nondescript short tunes, it culminates in the "Beaver Valley Suite," an interlinked series of impressionistic compositions that pay musical tribute to the composer's Ohio upbringing. It contains some lovely moments (most notably the Neapolitan-styled "The Sons of Italy"), but this and all the other non-soundtrack compositions feel out of place on a disc that is supposed to be devoted to movie themes. In the end, The Godfather and Other Movie Themes has enough worthwhile moments for Mancini aficionados, but anyone who wants to hear him tackle the work of Nino Rota would be better off picking up a copy of Cinema Italiano.

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