City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra / Nic Raine

The Symphonic Jean Michel Jarre

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One might have expected that Silva Screen Records, here operating through the subsidiary label Silva Classics, would be more interested in Jean Michel Jarre's father Maurice Jarre than in the younger musician. After all, Reynold da Silva's record company specializes in making new recordings of music from film scores, and it's Maurice Jarre who's the famous screen composer, while Jean Michel Jarre is the synthesizer player who stages spectacular concerts and sells records in the millions with his new age music. But that's the point: this is The Symphonic Jean Michel Jarre, an attempt to take his music and play it as though it had been written like his father's. As usual, Silva employs the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, with the Crouch End Festival Chorus along to provide the "ah" sounds as appropriate. The disc borrows liberally from Jarre's own hit albums, including Oxygene, Equinoxe, Magnetic Fields, and Rendez-Vous, all of which hit the U.S. charts in the 1970s and '80s during the new age boom. Conductor Nic Raine and Gareth Williams had the heavy lifting of transcribing Jarre's sounds into arrangements and orchestrations, and though they have succeeded in taking him to an orchestra (with what sounds like some synthesized cheating here and there), his music still sounds more new age than classical. "Chronologie 2" calls to mind the Laura Branigan hit "Gloria," and there are other examples of pop/rock dance music. Jarre dabbles in world music styles, albeit without much apparent comprehension, such as in the heavily clichéd Oriental touches in "Fishing Junks at Sunset." Nevertheless, the excerpts drawn from across his work and carefully orchestrated prove consistently interesting and do him a favor as a composer, suggesting that he might do some film scoring himself.

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