CD: Artist, The (2011)

December 16, 2011 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Sony Classical/ Released: November 21, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 24 tracks / (77:55)

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Special Notes: 12-page colour booklet with a Q&A with composer Ludovic Bource in English and French.

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Composer: Ludovic Bource

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Review:

After scoring a series of short films, composer Ludovic Bource’s feature film debut was launched with two of Michel Hazanavicius’ OSS 117 films, and the pair’s third collaboration, The Artist, is filled with a heavy mix of nostalgia for classic film composition and the fast-moving tempo of silent movies.

One can easily find unsubtle references to the styles of Bernard Herrmann (the brooding, eerie chords from Citizen Kane’s opening titles are quoted in “Comme un rosee de larmes”), and it’s not hard to hear the influence of Danny Elfman either (as in the rambunctious “1927 A Russian Affair,” which brims with fast-ascending figures). One can also argue the opening bars of :The Artist Overture” pay quick homage to Franz Waxman’s Sunset Boulevard, but Bource’s score is a genuinely fine evocation of the energy and romanticism silent movie fans believed oozed during glamorous era of the late twenties, just as sound was starting to make inroads in filmmaking and film exhibition.

As fanciful as a Charlie Chaplin soundtrack, Bource makes sure every cue sways with lyrical beauty, be it from sweeping strings or excited, trilling brass; and lovely ornamentations from woodwinds, harp; and little performance gestures which accent comedic moments.

Chiming exotica dominates the light jazz interlude in “Fantasie d’amour,” and although the cue’s hippity-hoppity rhythm is a bit cloying, the score has its fair balance of action, romance, and heavy drama. Central to the score’s success is the lovely arrangement of Alberto Ginastera’s “Estancia Op.8,” with its elegantly subtle violin solo. There’s also Bource’s deliberate emphasis on lyricism over dissonance, although “Ghosts from the Past” is invigorated by some brooding metallic colours as arching brass and trilling notes swirl into a ferocious little crescendo of malice, with menacing, resonant brass. (It’s also one of the best-recorded cues on this album, with the microphones picking of the sharpness of the metallic vibrato from the French horns’ inner guts.)

Sony’s CD features a solid collection of cues, and although the editing between tracks is often super-tight (the moment any jazz source ends, we’re immediately pushed back to original score within seconds), the tactic keeps the score moving fast and fluid.

Whether one pegs The Artist as homage, a nostalgic tribute, or a rich musical fantasy of ancient glamorous Hollywood, Bource has captured the melodic richness and elegance that once dominated Hollywood films, and whose original practitioners would probably be amused by his own unabashed fondness.

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© 2011 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography

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