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Film Music Masterworks - Alan Silvestri

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Album Review

Just as film director Robert Zemeckis started out as a protégé of Steven Spielberg and always retained his mentor's taste for taking traditional movie formulas and expanding on them (albeit adding his own satiric edge) in such box-office smashes as Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Forrest Gump, composer Alan Silvestri has been to Zemeckis what John Williams has been to Spielberg, a musician capable of ingesting the styles of the old Hollywood scorers and regurgitating them in a way that sounds affectionate, if slightly mocking. Silva Screen Records, a label devoted to making new recordings of movie music, usually employing the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (although one track here is by the N.Y. Jazz Orchestra), assembles a compilation, drawn from previous albums on the label, of themes from some of Silvestri's films, and the typically adequate performances of the Prague Philharmonic confirm the impression of the composer as one steeped in Hollywood musical clichés and always willing to re-create them, even if his tongue sometimes seems to be in his cheek, at least as far as the films his music accompanies. A good example is found in the leadoff track, the main theme from Back to the Future. Popular as it may have been, the film is a sitcom-style effort souped up with special effects. Silvestri's stirring theme music suggests the audience is in for a big adventure movie on the scale of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is a musical joke to go along with the jokey nature of the picture. Something similar could be said about the album's closing track, the main theme to The Mummy Returns, which plays on the film's sword-and-sand setting in what, again, is something of a comic version of an old movie formula. In between these pieces of pastiche, Silvestri gets to show off different sides of his talent, notably in the love theme to The Bodyguard and the jazzy "Eddie's Theme" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But these, too, are works suggestive of earlier music, rendered in semi-faithful fashion.

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