Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2017 September 04 • Monday

Jerry Goldsmith came up in conversation the other day and it wasn't much longer before I was listening to this recent CD release of his music for Papillon. One of these days I should watch this classic movie. But for now we'll just make it the 481st Soundtrack of the Week.

Using a single theme as the foundation for a score is a common and often effective approach. Jerry Goldsmith had a considerable advantage here since he was able to write an incredible number of powerful, lovely and engaging themes.

The Papillon theme clearly signals the French identity of the main character, using accordion as the main voice for a lilting waltz that suggests both uplifting and melancholy moods.

You hear this piece many times throughout the score, at different speeds and in different contexts. Goldsmith's ease with both emotional and more modernistic writing is demonstrated here.

He also uses some instruments native to the Caribbean here, as appropriate for the setting of the film.

It's a beautiful score, alternatingly haunting and soothing, and this new release from Quartet, which includes source music (arranged by Alexander Courage) and alternate takes, is fantastic.