The Memory That Outlasts the Years
FloydWaters | 02/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me make it clear--if you want an objective or "expert" review, seek elsewhere, because this won't be it. Rather, this is a very emotional reflection upon the music, its composer, and the value it holds to me. I had the chance to observe Michael Kamen on his Internet forum for a few days before his unexpected death in November 2003, and this certainly seems to capture what I learned about who he was. I feel that even this "fleeting glimpse" accentuates the response I have to this album even more...but it's undeniable that the quality of the work itself has a lot to do with it. I greatly enjoyed listening to this.I'll start with The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms. Yes--I can hear the influences of other composers in there, most notably (for me), Stravinsky. But it doesn't disturb my listening at all. One must remember what this piece was intended to be--it was commissioned for the millenium. I believe that its purpose was not to push *too* far--but to be a thing that people could connect with, envision. It is inventive, but at the same time *must* appeal to the familiar in order to accomplish its purpose. (The same goes for the Shostakovich-like part in "Marking Homework" in An American Symphony.) That, more than anything, embodies the spirit of Michael Kamen--he was all about bridging the gaps between genres and audiences that to him shouldn't have even existed in the first place. Look at his excellent work in the Metallica S & M project for another shining example of this "bridge-building" work, or the "Finale" of An American Symphony.As to the symphony itself, I am quite pleased. Just as Michael did, I feel a great connection to the imagery and history of the Southwestern U.S., and particularly through the flute and percussion work I get that sense from it. Some pieces have darker parts in them--but there are also wonderfully bright sections to balance them out, such as a beautiful moment in "In the Moonlight" starting on Track 6 at about 5:35, where I envision seeing a thing that perhaps I feared...that is then revealed to be an object of great joy instead. The peace that comes from that is really very wonderful. The first track on "The Prayer" is also a particularly moving section, indeed the sort of uplifting thing I like as a backdrop for my meditations. The progression of the music throughout is "just unusual enough"--it can't be predicted by a first-time listener, but at the same time it does not go *too* far. I can't explain exactly how, but I can certainly hear certain signatures of Michael's throughout.This CD also has all five parts of An American Symphony, which appeared in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. I only saw the movie a few times in the years since it was released, and the *impressions* of the music, even if not the note-for-note particulars, burned themseves indelibly upon my brain. Among my favorites are the powerful "Iris" theme, and the hauntingly beautiful "Rowena". The latter is a tune that, upon seeing the movie a few weeks ago for the first time in years, became instantly familiar the second I heard it again--I felt as if I'd found a tune I'd been seeking for all the intervening time in my own musical meanderings. That, more than anything, ought to serve as a testament to what Michael wrote here. My only wish unfulfilled on this particular CD is that the mesmerising piano rendition didn't appear here. Trust me--it's worth renting or buying the movie to hear, and I hope very much you'll do that along with purchasing this CD.The "Finale" now has a strange parallel meaning to what it held in the movie. The music program having been cut off suddenly, the students Glenn Holland has had over the years gather to give him a glorious send-off, and to prove to him that his career, even abruptly abbreviated as it was, had a tremendous influence. That influence is the legacy of him that they will carry in their hearts. So it is now with the man who was truly behind that music. The first symphony, too, is about legacy. The Anasazi people who actually created the art that inspired Michael are not here, either. But just as their tradition and their work has survived all these years, so will his, through a form of memory we know as music.I truly hope you will open your hearts to the music and the memory...to know its power and joy.--Written in memory of Maestro Michael Kamen"
Higly enjoyable and very derivative
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 02/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I found Michael Kamen's "
Thank you Michael Kamen
Lee Ann,music lover | Middletown, OH USA | 04/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered Michael Kamen's music when i purchased the soundtrack for "Mr Holland's opus"(A portion of which is on this disc).In an era when tax levies are being failed left and right and music programs are the first to go by the wayside, I wish we could count on his guidance one again, may he rest in peace. His frequent pleas to save music programs will be his true legacy.
On to this delightful disc. New moon in the old moon's arms is a curious blend of styles and time periods that begs to be cranked up on the stero. A true delight for the senses! Right now I am trying to find all of his works for my collection that are still available."