Music from the movies

Doug Gallant
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Music drawn from the scores of films produced by noted British producer David Puttnam are the sum and substance of a new recording by his son Sacha.

British producer David Puttnam arranges some of the best ever on new CD

The music of the movies has been a source of fascination for me since my mother first took me to see Gone With The Wind.

It was a special screening at Confederation Centre of the Arts and I think I was all of 11.

Max Steiner’s magnificent original score, quite possibly the most readily identifiable score in the history of film, has stayed with me my entire life.

When I hear Tara’s Theme today, so many years later, I still get goosebumps.

A good score will do that to you.

I suspect that most people who frequent the movies have a particular film score that stands out in their memory, one that makes the hair go up on the backs of their necks and unleashes a flood of images from the film that music came from.

Star Wars, Titanic, Glory, Rocky, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Beauty & The Beast, there are a dozen or more movies I can think of at the moment with which people would make some kind of a connection based solely on their scores.

British producer David Puttnam is one of those producers for whom the score has always been an important part of the package. He understands better than most how important the score can be in terms of creating the environment in which things happen, capturing the moment when they happen and advancing the story.

Puttnam’s films have featured some of the most outstanding scores of the last 40 plus years.

Included in that number are such classic entries as The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Memphis Belle. His films have won 10 Oscars, 25 Baftas and the Palme D’Or at Cannes.

Puttnam’s love of films was handed down to his son Sacha, a composer, conductor and pianist who studied conducting and composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and the Moscow Conservatory.

He now composes and arranges for film, television, radio and games as well as for several groups and ensembles.

Sacha’s love of films, his passion for film scores and his respect for the body of films produced by his father are handsomely reflected in a new recording that features pieces from close to a dozen of the films his father produced.

Puttnam Plays Puttnam features selections from several of the films referenced above as well as from Lisztomania, Cal, My Life So Far and The Duellists.

Instrumental recordings of this nature don’t usually find their way into this column, but I found myself drawn to this recording because it is extraordinarily beautiful.

The material Puttnam chose, the arrangements he created, the orchestrations — some pieces feature only his piano, some others just piano and strings — and the calibre of his own performance drew me back to tracks like Eric’s Theme from Chariots of Fire, Laura’s Theme from The Duellists and Irish Love from Cal over and over again.

Admittedly this is not a recording for everybody.

Some people may find it a little too soft, a little too pastoral.

I’m not one of them.

For me this is a record for laying in a hammock, watching the clouds roll by.

A record for gazing at the waves as they break on shore on a grey fall day.

A record for simply thinking about absolutely nothing.

A record for burying your head in an oversized coffee table book about architecture, which is what I did the second time I listened to it.

Is there much of an audience for that?

It debuted at number five on the classical music charts in the U.K.

I guess there is.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: Berklee College of Music, Confederation Centre, The Guardian

Geographic location: Boston

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Recent comments

  • Alessandro Tate
    August 30, 2014 - 13:53

    I'm a huge movie fan and obviously a music fan too. This collection totally surprised me. not only did I know most of the tracks, I also had lovely memories of the original films the music came from. Totally a five recommendation from me.

  • Graham Brown
    August 28, 2014 - 18:10

    Such fabulous music compiled and interpreted with care. This CD is perfect for work, life and fun. There are themes played that have brought me to tears when listening to them. Beautiful, pastoral, classical gems. Thank you Sacha!

  • Deborah Grossman
    August 25, 2014 - 08:21

    I agree with Doug, this album is extraordinarily beautiful...