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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 3 August 2015
There are some good ones, but a few penny dreadfulls have been slipped in.
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on 17 January 2008
I 've been fascinated by Michael Nyman's soundtracks and films especially in the stylish futuristic Gataca, Carrington, and of course The Piano ,which will remain a classic into future centuries. For this collection it's the heartbreaking string symphonies merged with horns and brassy vintage jazz. I love the album especially disc 2 and can't get enough of the bittersweet neo classical themes. For those of you like me who want an insight in to Nyman's music without buying selected soundtrack's .This album, makes an excellent listen for Nyman , who I've heard described as one of Britains greatest composers, a collection like this is proof.
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on 27 February 2008
Michael Nyman is best know for his soundtrack to Jane Campion's film The Piano, and for his unique working relationship with British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, from 1980 up until 1993. His work on The Piano remains his most iconic, still being used to this day in bank commercials and on those "new-classical" compilations; whilst his work with Greenaway stands up as some of the most beautiful and intricate pieces of neo-classical "minimalism" ever composed. His work since his last venture with Greenaway, 1992's Prospero's Books has become slightly more melodic, creating memorable and often quite haunting scores for filmmakers as varied as Michael Haneke, Neil Jordan, Andrew Niccol, Patrice Leconte and Michael Winterbottom, and even working with Britpop's favourite son Damon Albarn for the cult cannibal-themed western Ravenous.

Disk one of this excellent two-disk set collects the most memorable pieces from those early Greenway films, with the compilation opening with a live version of Bird List from Greenaway's great mock-documentary The Falls. From here we progress onto the sublime genius of Chasing Sheep Is Best Left to Shepherds and An Eye for Optical Theory taken from Greenaway's post-modern masterpiece The Draughtsman's Contract, both highly influenced by Purcell's The Fairy Queen. The collection then has pieces from other great Greenaway works A Zed and Two Noughts and Drowning by Numbers, before reaching something of a peak with the epic Memorial from The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover. Memorial is probably the greatest work Nyman ever did for a Greenaway film, with the melodic and continually progressive structure referencing The Frozen Music from Purcell's King Arthur as well as referring back to the wondrous Time-lapse from A Zed and Two Noughts; which again, used elements of Biber's Requiem. In his short sleeve-notes, Nyman talks of how the music was originally composed as a larger piece in 1985 to commemorate the Jueventus fans that died at the Heysel stadium.

Memorial is the last real piece of music we get from a Greenaway film, though there is an early version of Miranda (Miranda Previsitied) from 1989, originally commissioned for La Traversée de Paris, an exhibition commemorating the bicentenary of the French revolution. It's a shame there isn't more music included from Prospero's Books, since it really is one of Nyman's very best scores and is probably the main reason to watch the film for people who can't quite get past Greenaway's grotesque/ostentatious visuals. To over-compensate the lack of Prospero-related material we get some other high-calibre entries in the form of Homage to Maurice - a Bernard Hermann inspired ode to Maurice Hatton - and few pieces from Patrice Leconte's film Monsieur Hire. Disk one comes to a close with four piece of music taken from The Piano, amongst them the rousing Dreams Of A Journey, the lyrical All Imperfect Things and the iconic The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise, which Nyman described as "...a setting of the Scottish traditional song Bonny Winter's noo awa'.

Disk two opens with Escape from the film A la Folie, before moving on to Fly Drive and The Infinite Complexities of Christmas, which Nyman describes as "...English 20's and 30's country style without resorting to pastiche or known musical models". Abel Carries Ephraim from Volker Scholdorff's film The Ogre is the only score not to use strings, instead featuring a bass-heavy sound with a lot of brass, whilst the following four tracks are all taken from the greatly underrated sci-fi parable Gattaca. It is here that Nyman's style begins to become warmer and less minimal, employing sweeping orchestrations and creating an underlining sense of emotion that has often been (purposely) neglected in his work with Greenaway. This will eventually lead us into the beautiful music he created for Michael Winterbottom's best film Wonderland (tracks 13, 14, 15 and 16) and the aching melancholy of his work for Neil Jordan's great adaptation of The End of The Affair (tracks 17 and 18).

Before that however, we have Convening The Coven, a piece from the film Practical Magic, notable since Nyman's original score was rejected in favour of the characterless work of another composer. We also have two of the more Nyman-esque pieces from Ravenous in the form of Stranger At The Window and Cannibal Fantasy (sadly, that hauntingly melodic banjo refrain used throughout is absent... though it might turn up on a "Best of Damon Albarn" one day!!) before we get to those great tracks listed above. Wonderland is one of Nyman's very best collections, easily as great as previous peaks like The Draughtsman's Contract and The Piano, with Nyman finding a sense of pathos and tranquil lyricism to nicely undercut the cynicism and dejection at the heart of Winterbottom's film; whilst the two tracks from The End Of The Affair (Sarah Dies and the title track) show Nyman moving towards a kind of music that is much more emotionally expressive.

Disk two comes to a close with two tracks from Winterbottom's Wonderland follow up, the snowy-western/morality tale The Claim. Here, Nyman is allowed to reference the master of cinematic composition with a few nods to Morricone sneaking into The Shooting, before taking things even further with the operatic closing piece, The Burning. Nyman's music is brilliant, managing to further the story and compliment the visuals of the films it was intended for, but also standing up as a work of music that can be enjoyed without the accompanying film. This collection demonstrates Nyman's ability to create music that somehow transcends the film, marking him out as one of the most important and unique composers currently at work.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2008
This isn't the first example of Michael Nyman's cinema work I've bought - I fell in love with the score for The Piano, and I bought the soundtrack for Gattaca without every sitting through the whole film. This double CD is a brilliant opportunity to experience a whole raft of soundtracks he's been involved with over the 20-odd years this covers. Some of the individual film soundtracks sadly do not appear to be available, but even a single track as featured here for some films is better than nothing.

The first CD heavily features work from his many collaborations with Peter Greenaway, whilst the second features tracks accompanying a wider range of directors' work, and it's really fascinating to see the evolution of his style over the years.

The stand-out track for me on here is one of the few original songs Nyman's composed - "If" on CD#2 - a single offering from a Japanese animation of the Anne Frank story.

Nyman's style is not going to appeal to everyone, it's true, but this CD could allow you to discover either a universal appeal, or a preference for the more lyrical and romantic recent soundtracks over the more rhythmic and high-energy earlier work. There is a variety and complexity which will satisfy more than just those who like modern classical music in the minimalist mould.
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on 30 June 2015
Ok, but it doesn't do much.
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on 5 January 2015
Don't play this much .as don't like too many of the tracks .might try again on new CD player.
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on 4 January 2004
This is an excellent collection of Nyman's work. I purchased it after hearing the amazing soundtrack to "The Piano" and wasn't disappointed. To the untuned ear it is simple, hypnotic, original and emotional. Without losing any of these qualities it is still satisfying to the educated ear. Nyman's branch of minimalist music shares the rhythmic power of Jazz and popular music whilst enjoying fluency of classical orchestration and colour. This is avant-garde music, but still exploits the use of simple, charming melodies and has a much broader appeal than so much new "classical" music. Most of CD1 is written uniquely for his band. Highlights include "Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds" (featured in several TV advertisements), and the final three tracks (from "The Piano"). These tracks aside however, CD2 is where you'll find Nyman at his best (for example in "The Burning" and "The Other Side"). A great introduction to Nyman, or a useful compillation of his work to leave in your car.
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on 13 January 2010
I watched and greatly enjoyed the movie "Man on Wire" and noticed that the sound track was by Nyman. The composer's name rang a bell, so I googled him and ended up picking this CD thanks to an enthusiastic Amazon review. I forgot that nearly everything on Amazon has an enthusiastic review by *someone*. When I put this CD on the stereo I was surprised by its repetitive yet annoying texture. My wife immediately asked me to turn it down, way down. It is odd, because I normally like soundtrack-classical composers like say Respighi or Morricone, or "meditative" stuff like Winston. But I did not like Nyman. For reference, my fave composers include Stravinsky, Josquin, Bach. I may yet try some of this Nyman as a soundtrack for my own home movies: maybe having your attention on film lets the music be stimulating rather than tiresome.
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on 9 August 2015
After a while Nyman can get boring. HEre he does not because you find most of his various and unique pieces. Some are pure melodies, some are rythmic and experimental tracks, so you always swing between heart-touching music and purely intellectual one, but still enjoyable (not like some experimental artists who make wonderful sountrack but you can't listen to them without the images of the films they are meant for). Sometimes bizarre, funny, baroque and grotesque.
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on 5 May 2011
Nyman is unlike any other modern classical composer and this concentrates on his film work; how most of us are familiar with his work.
For me the earlier work is special as it links me with a certain time in my life and also seems to take me out of myself, and access parts of my imagination normally music doesn't reach.
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