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DVD SAVANT

Maurice Jarre:
A Tribute to David Lean


Maurice Jarre:
A Tribute to David Lean

Milan Records
2007 / Color / 1:33 flat full frame / 57 min. / Street Date Oct 23, 2007 / 19.97
Starring The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Cinematography David Myers
Recorded at The Barbican Centre
Editor L.A. Johnson
Produced by Maurice Jarre, L.A. Johnson
Directed by L.A. Johnson

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean is a handsomely taped concert performance from 1992, not long after the death of the world-class director. Composer Maurice Jarre conducts a solid hour of score selections and suites from his four major collaborations with Lean, and his on-stage performance is impressive. Several interesting extras add to the interest.

Milan Records has made the concert into a pleasing package. An accompanying CD duplicates most of the concert program. The disc carries a full alternate commentary track by Jarre, and an even better 35-minute video interview. We find out that English subsidy rules wouldn't allow the Frenchman Jarre to conduct his score for Lawrence of Arabia, but when Sir Adrian Boult saw how difficult it was to make the music keep tempo with the film, he bowed out. Boult's name is on the screen but Jarre conducted. Producer Sam Spiegel played down the film's chances for Oscars and didn't take anyone with him to the Hollywood ceremonies. When Arabia won a bushel of statuettes, Spiegel got to pose for pictures with them alone!

Jarre also says that David Lean insisted that ethnographic music not be imitated for the main themes, although the composer did use regional instruments such as balalaikas. As London's balalaika players weren't accustomed to playing in an orchestra, Jarre had to teach them to follow the rest of the musicians.

Maurice Jarre also explains that the exotic instrumentation for the original scores -- a battery of harps, balalaikas, etc. -- couldn't be reproduced for the concert, so we see and hear some very creative alternate orchestration at work. Seated to the right of the conductor is Cynthia Millar playing an Ondes Martenot, the first electronic musical instrument. The keyboard produces some very weird effects and figures heavily in parts of the Passage to India score.

The concert is a live, one-take recording done with multiple cameras, one of them mounted on a gliding Louma Crane. As co-producer of the video version, Jarre interrupts the scenes with frequent cutaways to brief scenes from the movies. The editing is kept simple and unobtrusive.

Contents:

1. Remembrance (3:52)
This piece was specially composed for the occasion in honor of David Lean. His widow was present for the concert.

2. Ryan's Daughter (8:58)

3. A Passage to India (10:26)

4. Doctor Zhivago (9:57)

5. Offering (3:13)
Jarre composed this piece for Lean's wedding to his sixth wife.

6. Garden of Statues (6:07)
This selection reproduces the scoring experience right in the concert hall. The sequence is from A Passage to India where Judy Davis bicycles to see an ancient palace's sensual statuary, guarded by throngs of hostile monkeys. The orchestra plays along with a projected work print of the scene complete with 'fade bars', and Jarre conducts to keep it in perfect synchronization. In the accompanying interview, the composer explains that Lean could not get enough monkeys for the scene, and it was up to Jarre's music to supply the menace.

7. Lawrence of Arabia (13:35)


Milan Records' disc set of Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean is a good encoding of a 1992 videotape source in fine shape. The dim stage lighting doesn't always make for a bright image and the colors are mostly golden, like the cover illustration. The audio is in Dolby 2.0 Stereo. The feature clips and other clips of David Lean are acceptable. Maurice Jarre's interview is in subtitled French; he's a pleasant raconteur. The commentary is subtitled as well.

The accompanying CD repicates all of the cues except the 'Garden of Statues' scoring piece. An insert flyer contains 1992 program notes from Christopher Palmer and an essay on Jarre by Christian Lauliac.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Maurice Jarre: A Tribute to David Lean rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Very Good
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: CD of concert, Maurice Jarre commentary and interview, liner notes.
Packaging: 2 discs in keep case
Reviewed: October 30, 2007



DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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