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Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection

Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection


Music composed and conducted by Francis Lai.

20 Tracks (Playing Time = 68:54)

Album produced by Susumu Morikawa and Yuki Miyazaki. Recorded at Les Studios de la Seine, Paris, November 2009. Recording engineered by Fabrice Maria. Music mixed by Celmar Engel. Artwork by Robert Croucher.

Silva Screen Records 1338

Rating: ****


The latest collection of film music from Silva focuses themes from 19 film scores and one TV theme of Francis Lai. Lai is best known for two scores: LOVE STORY (1970) and UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME (1965) both represented on this “Essential” collection and wonderfully performed. The music, conducted by the composer, is a beautiful collection of themes from throughout his career featuring delightful melodic content and a pop-like atmosphere that is closer to the easy listening instrumental pop albums of the 1970s. The stellar recording was made in Paris in 2009 and allows for a few more recent works to be included to the otherwise easy pop sounds along with a few surprises.

The first of these is the “Concerto Pour la Fin d’Un Amour”—a brief track based on a theme from the 1969 Lelouch film, UN HOMME UNE ME PLAIT which was first feature on a 1971 LP and bears a slight resemblance to the theme from EMMANUELLE II which follows it. Another Lelouch-related musical highlight is the “Ballet Apocalypse” from a segment in LES UNSET LES AUTRES which shifts into late-1970s pop rock scoring with slight jazz brass which is followed by another theme in the form of a big showtune-like work appropriately titled “Folies Bergeres” with an uncredited singer.

Though known for his romantic musical backdrops, and forays into soft European porn films, this disc allows us to hear some of Lai’s music from historical drama (LES MISERABLES, LA BELLE HISTOIREa strange Latin-flavored cue with great asymmetrical, MAYERLING), thrillers (ITINERAIRE D’UN ENFANT GATE, RIDER ON THE RAIN-which starred Charles Bronson), caper films (LA COURSE DU LIEVRE A TRAVERS LES CHAMPS), to television themes (LES ETOILES DU CINEMA).

The musical themes are always engaging, sometimes with an almost Baroque-like quality in their orchestration reminiscent of Petit. The more romantic themes are spread throughout more dramatic and action-like thematic material for a perfect listening contrast. The material continues to add in electric guitar and drum set for a more easy listening style that can also flirt with a little jazz (especially in LES RIPOUX with its decidedly French feel).

His two most famous themes appear in the final fifth of the release.

Overall, the release is filled with great music that helps increase ones appreciation for Lai’s style.

This is a fine overview of the composer’s music.


--Steven A. Kennedy, 11 January 2011


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