I rarely purchase movie soundtracks -- the last one was Clueless, which was a compilation of pop songs. In fact, I have no actual symphonic soundtracks except for Woody Allen's Manhattan (all George Gershwin); and the Varese Sarabande 25th Anniversary Collection.
I bought this one, finally, because Little Women with Winona Ryder is my all-time favorite movie -- this coming from a smart guy who's seen many many movies. To me, Little Women is the definition of civilization. In other words, it's life as it should be.
The movie works as a movie for a couple of reasons -- the ensemble acting being the main one, especially Winona Ryder's performance -- and the music being another. Thomas Newman's music is subtle and powerful, simple and effective, beautifully orchestrated, and played expertly by the London Symphony Orchestra. It was recorded at Abbey Road in London, and mastered at Oceanway in Los Angeles -- two premiere studios.
The Little Women Soundtrack is one of my all time favorite movie scores, and it accompanied me on my pilgrimage to Concord. There's a certain somberness and otherworldliness to several of my other favorites (also novel-to-movie adaptations, hmm…), such as The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Pride & Prejudice (2005), and The Fellowship of the Ring. But what I love most about Thomas Newman's beautiful compositions is that they manage to stir inside me such a range of feelings, at times introspectiveness and at others, an outward-looking, American optimism. Jo's exuberance, tomboyishness, and zest for life is evident in the moving, empowering builds and the joyful prominence of the brass instruments. I can't talk about music all that intelligently, but what I can say is that to me, the music really captures Jo's lively spirit and the love the March family has for each other. I have listened many times through and played "Orchard House" and "Under the Umbrella" on...
Thomas Newman here is up to his usual high standard. My personal bugaboo about the production of his albums is inclusion of outside selections which don't do a lot to enhance the rhythm or motif he sets for the film score. He needs a veteran producer to keep him on the straight and narrow, uncluttered and majestic. He is the king if only he will allow himself to be.
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