|2.||Le réveil de l'avion||1:04|
|4.||L'enfant et l'avion||2:31|
|6.||L'enfant et l'avion (variation)||1:52|
|8.||La maison vide||2:26|
|12.||La belle équipée||3:08|
|13.||L'avion en danger||2:35|
|Total Album Time:||47:20|
3.5 / 5 Stars
In a world of bombastic trailer music, synthesized anvils, and pounding electronics, it is something of a relief to hear a piece of music that has been untouched by the jingoistic baton of the Media Ventures trend. This is not to say that I loathe the macho and dynamic style pioneered by Hans Zimmer; I can appreciate it as much as the next person. What I loathe is an industry that has made it its signature, no longer able to accept anything beyond this incessant pounding of masculinity. Delicate arpeggia and woodwinds get thrown by the wayside, replaced instead by mountains of brass chords and choppy string ostinati.
It would seem non-American composers have escaped this narrow-minded trend (up to this point, at the very least) and still manage to write scores that wouldn't feel out of place in a concert showcasing the works of Berlioz and Schubert. I have had the chance to review The Brothers Grimm and The Machinist, both of which harken back to an older Hollywood where the desire for subtle but solid orchestrations surpassed the need for brute force. Now comes Gabriel Yared's delicate and whimsical score to the Franco-German L'avion, firmly rooted in the Romantic tradition of unabashed orchestral beauty, with hints of Impressionism.
The film itself is the tale of a small boy forced to deal with his father's death when a plane model his father gave him comes to live and takes him on a series of fantastical adventures. It will thus come as a surprise to learn that Yared's score is very composed and does not launch itself into flights of fancy. Rather, he chooses to score the way a child would view the world, in a naive, touching way, with dense string writing, woodwind solos, and piano and harp. Yared brings forth a number of melodic ideas, none of them remarkably catchy, with the exception of the main theme heard in "L'ouverture" ("Overture") and a Chopin-esque waltz introduced in "Le printemps" ("Spring"). Yared has worked on a great number of European pictures and this Old Continent flair for precise orchestrations shows up in L'avion: the composer's palette is small but he knows how to make the most of it, crafting dreamy harmonies for the string ensemble and subtle, contrapuntal melodies for the flute, oboe, and bassoon. The recording, unlike the one for The Lord of the Rings, for instance, does not blend all instruments together but, rather, showcases each individual soloist and ensemble to produce a crystal-clear representation of the music.
"La météorite" ("The Meteorite") is a six-minute revisiting of the main themes and it doesn't get any more Romantic than this. The waltz is elaborated upon and I can honestly say the line between Classical music and film score gets blurred. Its second phrase, a twinkling dual-note theme on the piano's higher pitches, exudes playfulness and melancholy at the same time and is definitely a high point of the score as a whole.
Gabriel Yared's score to L'avion is a far cry from the Golden Age heroism he displayed in his rejected score to Troy; rather, it is a solid return to form that rarely shines but that displays a savoir-faire and mastery of the craft that some film music fans may long for. Its strengths lie in its orchestrations and its effectiveness and also this lulling Romantic dreaminess that is soothing after an hour of listening to militaristic anthems and high-pitched horns. L'avion is a great score to fall asleep to and I say this with praise.
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