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Enigma (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

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Album Review

John Barry's score for director Michael Apted's World War II drama Enigma is a lush, orchestral effort performed by members of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and conducted by the composer. The cues are mostly short, with only four of 19 lasting more than three minutes, but there is a consistency of tone for most of them, and it is a quiet, contemplative one. Things pick up a bit in terms of tension on such titles as "Police Chase" and "Puck Dies," but even then Barry maintains a deliberate feel that never becomes too stirring. More typical are pieces like "The Quarry" and "Tom Goes to the Cottage," in which a piano plays a single-note theme supported by stately strings. This is not the music for a battlefield war film, but rather one fought internally, with plenty of time for contemplation and uncertainty. Still, the result is both moving and elegiac. (The album concludes with a couple of period songs, DeSylva, Brown and Henderson's "The Black Bottom" as played by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra in 1937; and Harry Warren and Mack Gordon's "You'll Never Know," recorded in 1943 by British bandleader Ambrose and His Orchestra with Ann Shelton on vocals, which are used as source music in the film; as well as a 1994 recording of Vaughan Williams' "Dives & Lazarus" played by the New Queen's Hall Orchestra, conducted by Barry Wordsworth.)


Born: November 3, 1933 in York, England

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Barry was one of the best-known composers of soundtrack music of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but his career carried him through a multitude of music genres and styles. He was best-known in film in connection with his work on the James Bond pictures, but Barry was also the holder of five Academy Awards, none of them for the Bond movies. Born Free (for which he won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves are hardly unknown films...
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