Magnificent Movie Music
MusicMad | Metuchen, NJ | 03/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More and more I find myself drawn to movie soundtracks. This box set of the soundtracks from the three Merchant Ivory adaptations of E. M. Forster is a feast of mood and color. Of the three movies, "A Room with a View" is the film that got me hooked on Merchant Ivory and any actor involved in any of their films. (It also got me hooked on E. M. Forster novels!) Richard Robbins consistently finds the right piece for the right event, and he borrows liberally from other composers for dramatic effectiveness. "Room" uses Puccini's opera "Gianni Schicchi" to wonderful effect to evoke Florence (The opera is a comedy that takes place in rennaissance Florence), and moves to the big aria from "La Rondine" for the fateful kiss (The Italian text, all about love's first kiss, is so appropriate here. The final lines: "Oh golden dream! To be able to love like that!") "Maurice" borrows liberally from Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony (for the pianola, and for essential reprises), a gay composer for a gay romance. "Howards End" borrows in spots from two composers: Beethoven (the scherzo from the Fifth Symphony) and the piano music of Percy Grainger. (Martin Jones, the pianist in the film, has recorded an album of the complete piano works of Percy Grainger, available on Amazon. Check out the listening samples - it's quite dazzling.) "Bridal Lullaby" is used for the opening titles and for Margaret's arrival at the house, and establishes a mood both romantic and poignant. (And, viewing the movie again and knowing the entire story, watching Ruth Wilcox wander through her domain, observing its inhabitants from the outside as though she came from another world - well, those first few simple chords brought tears to my eyes. And, somehow, still do.) The piece for the closing credits is a piano/orchestral arrangement of Grainger's "Mock Morris." (And now, thanks to that, I've developed an interest in the piano music of Percy Grainger!) Richard Robbins artfully weaves all of these pieces into the fabric of each drama with great style.
Since everyone seems to be comparing the three soundtracks as to good/better/best, I think all three are wonderful for different reasons. "Room" is the most evocative; "Maurice" the most rhapsodic; and "Howards End" the most moody (also the most Phillip Glass-like in several moments). But of the three as albums, "Maurice" does have the edge - the whole thing feels like a complete tone poem unto itself. Robbins accomplishes this by framing the score with two versions of the same musical theme. For the opening credits, the tune seems only half formed, tinged in a minor key, wanting to express something, wanting to sing, but somehow seems suppressed; for the closing credits, the theme - now in a major key - finally has come into its own and sings with a naturally lyric abandon, ending on a triumphant note. It's a wonderful summation of the titular hero's own voyage of self-discovery and fulfillment.
So yes, if you're a fan of movie soundtracks, this set is a must-have. But don't stop there - explore the other music found within these scores as well, to enhance your appreciation of Richard Robbins and Merchant Ivory and the by-gone world they re-create."
Award-winning Merchant Ivory soundtrack
I ain't no porn writer | author, "Crippled Dreams" | 05/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This box set is great, especially the music for "A Room with a View." This is exquisite, elegant melody-making, combined with a great sense of atmosphere as well. This music really made the scenes in the films come to life! Now when I hear these tracks, I'm transported back to scenes in the film, like Lucy exploring Florence, or standing at th embankment of the Arno river with George, Lucy and Sistel at the "Sacred Lake" where they shared a very awkward kiss in the film (hahaha), etc etc. Very enjoyable.David Rehak
author of "Love and Madness""
E.M. Forster Trilogy
Robertmakeup | Philadelphia, Pa. | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great soundtrack collection! My favorite is Maurice followed closely by the Howards End disc. I'm a big fan of the E.M. Forster worx and found the music to all of the films to be an integral part of the atmosphere, standing up amazingly well on their own, while evoking the most memorable images of each. If you love romantic, sweeping, bittersweet music, you'll love this collection."