The Music of Michel Legrand
Composed By: Michel Legrand
Performed By: The Moscow Virtuosi
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The music of composer Michel Legrand spans over 45 years, almost half a century. Michel Legrandís musical influences began with his father, Raymond Legrand, and his uncle, Jacques Hťlian, but it was upon entering the Paris Conservatory that he realized his true musical ambitions. Upon leaving the Conservatory, Legrand began work as a musical accompanist to French singer, Maurice Chevalier. Creating his own instrumental LP, I Love Paris, Legrand found international fame, scoring well in France, but topping the charts in the United States. In 1955, Legrand turned to film scoring and found great success with his innovative style.
Michel Legrand has worked with numerous well-known artists over this time, including Frank Sinatra, Miles Davies, Orson Welles, Barbra Streisand, Edith Piaf, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. He is best known for his refusal to be pigeonholed into one musical genre. On September 13, 2011, Silva Screen Records will release The Music of Michel Legrand, a two CD set in which Legrand revisits some of his most respected compositions.
The Music of Michel Legrand features Legrandís original compositions performed by The Moscow Virtuosi and arranged, conducted and produced by Michael Legrand himself. The album contains music from such acclaimed films as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Summer of 42, Wuthering Heights, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Three Musketeers and Yentl.
The album features over one and a half hours of music. Listening to the album, you can easily see Legrandís refusal to be set in one genre. His compositions sometimes seem to be classical, sometimes jazz and sometimes a blend of both. I loved his use of the harp in Les Parapaluies De Cherbourg and the Concerto in Les Demoiselles De Rochefort, lending the tracks an ethereal tone. Wuthering Heights had a haunting quality to it, especially thanks to the opening and closing bell (triangle?) strikes. I think the most striking of Legrandís compositions is the final track on the second CD called Family Fugue. There is a great deal going on with a full orchestral sound, offering up a great sense of action and suspense.
How well The Music of Michel Legrand is received will vary among music lovers. There are those who dislike music that they might hear from the pianist at a high class restaurant or on a cruise ship lounge perform. Unfortunately, almost half of the tracks on this album sound like a more professional version of something you might hear in these venues. Those who appreciate musical composition will enjoy listening for the different genres and styles as well as the various instruments and how they are played. For instance, there are times when Legrand had the percussion section use a wire brush to strike the cymbal and snare drum, creating a jazz sound, while other times he elected to have a drumstick used. Some tracks are mainly piano and strings while others feature a compliment of horns.
I enjoyed the various nuances of Michel Legrandís compositions, but I could have done without the vocal utterances in the track, Dingo. I found that they were highly annoying and distracted the listener from the music on the track. Fans of the French composer are sure to find The Music of Michel Legrand to be an enjoyable album filled with the artistís most memorable works.