“While there are
other performances and recordings of some of these classic scores
consider "better" for various reasons, this release remains
special in that Jarre, himself, is conducting in direct
tribute to the master film-maker, David Lean.”
Do You Think This is Just Any DVD?
by Christopher Coleman
of the most celebrated directors of the last 50 years has been David Lean
- and most deservingly so. The visionary director will long be remembered
and honored for his epic works: THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, DOCTOR
ZHIVAGO, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and A PASSAGE TO INDIA. His films have stood
the test of time and remain awe-inspiring to this day. The name, "Maurice
Jarre" became inexorably connected to the David Lean with their
first collaborative effort of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA back in 1961. Beyond
co-workers, Lean and Jarre became great friends. Only a few weeks
after the after the world lost the great director in 1991, Maurice Jarre
conducted the ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA in a concert-tribute to his friend.
Now, some fifteen years after this live concert was
recorded, MILAN RECORDS, releases a two-disc special edition DVD + compact
disc set entitled, MAURICE JARRE: A TRIBUTE TO DAVID LEAN.
My review here covers the release as a whole, both the DVD featuring the live
concert and the CD which features an audio- only recording of the same
covering the concert itself, there are a few additional features included
on the DVD that deserve mentioning. Now, what I personally dove into
before anything else was the interview with MAURICE JARRE. The brief
interview is conducted in French (which makes it feel much longer than its 35 minute run time), but
it does offer English subtitles. In it, Jarre shares about his beginnings
with Lean all the way to his final conversation with director only 3 days
before Lean's death. He goes on to talk about some of his unique
choices in instrumentation and ground-breaking employment of synthesizers
and how Lean influenced him in that regard. The interview does end a
little abruptly...which left me wanting more, so I quickly navigated to
the concert recording with Maurice Jarre's audio commentary turned on.
On the DVD and CD, each performed selection was specifically arranged by
Jarre for this concert. He uniquely edits highlights, which average about
10 minutes each, from four seminal collaborations between himself and the
director. On the DVD, as each suite is performed we get to view
Jarre's selected images from the films, intercut with shots of Jarre
himself, the orchestra, and occasional wideshots of the audience.
The edited footage from the films was a nice visual tribute to David Lean,
yet Jarre's evocative music is really all that is needed to recall the
they were originally set to.
Opening both the DVD and CD is a stirring piece entitled "Remembrance."
The piece was written in honor of David Lean and is contains many of
Maurice Jarre's signature sounds: strong percussion, lyrical motifs
performed by strings. Additionally, he delivers a bit of "royalty" into
the piece with bold brass fanfares. In all, a fitting tribute to the
memory of Lean. Also included is music from Jarre's original scores
starting with RYAN'S DAUGHTER and concluding with LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. In
between, is PASSAGE TO INDIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Each of the
performances is ripe with feeling. To this day I still continue to battle
within on whether I enjoy the scores for LAWRENCE or ZHIVAGO more.
However, in the case of this concert, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO suite comes out on
top...despite not having any balalaikas in the orchestra whatsoever!
Yet another very meaningful selection is found on
track 5, "Offering." This was written specifically for David Lean
and Lady Sandra Lean's wedding and presented to them as a gift from Jarre. The piece
contains another beautiful theme very much in the spirit of
his well-known scores, but is also mindful of his work for the seriously
underappreciated film, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS. Within the piece are a number
of brief quotes from all of the film scores played at this concert, so it
is a most natural fit. As Lady Sandra Lean was actually in attendance of
this concert it certainly had to be a very emotional experience for, not
only her, but for Jarre and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as they performed
the very personal music.
Following "Offering" on the DVD is a special performance of a
significant scene from A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Here, Jarre conducts the orchestra as though they were recording the actual
score for this scene - making this particular performance of even greater
interest. On the big screen plays the famous garden
statue-monkey-scene including the timing marks from which Jarre has to
time his conducting. In addition, a large clock is positioned close by to
Jarre from which he must also take his cues. Listening (and reading the
English subtitles) to Jarre's commentary over this part of the concert, he
makes it clear how much pressure he felt in scoring this scene perfectly.
As he states, "Here, it was all or nothing." There was no chance of
another take, they had to get it right...and did. It's a wonderful keyhole
into the immense and detailed world of film scoring.
The CD and DVD conclude with the suite of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. But on the
DVD, at its close, we are see that Maurice Jarre is visibly moved as the
audience gives he and the orchestra a well deserved ovation. He manages
only a few words before hurrying offstage, "Thank you. I think David would
It should be noted that there have been a number of different releases of
this particular concert on CD by Milan dating back to 2002. There
was also a French release of a similar 2-disc (DVD + CD) package entitled,
LEAN BY JAR (2003), also from Milan. While there are other
performances and recordings of some of these classic scores that I
consider "better" for various reasons, this release remains
special in that Jarre, himself is conducting in direct
tribute to the master film-maker, David Lean. It is almost palpable
that both Jarre and the orchestra are giving it there all and the overall
emotion of the performance overcomes the somewhat-dated production value.
Still, this is a slice of music history that we should be grateful to
share in. If you are a fan of the works of director David Lean and
MAURICE JARRE, then this 2-disc release is well worth your time.
||"Lawrence of Arabia" Suite
||Total Running Time (approx)