Saturday, December 22, 2012

Never More Alone, Never More Apart (Music Review: Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack, Les Miserables)

They say that if "Les Miserables," the movie musical, proves to be a hit, it will pave the way for other movie musicals to be made. So count me in among those who are hopeful for its success. I cannot tell you how I am so looking forward to seeing it on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, though, I have listened to the "Highlights From the Motion Picture Soundtrack" release and while as an aural experience, it is very satisfying, I have mixed feelings about it. First off, since this is one of those musicals I know inside and out, it was a bit disconcerting for me to hear "highlights," (As per Amazon, anyway, I don't think there's a release for the whole music) and I felt like I was hanging hearing songs "unfinished," as it were. Now the performances are great. But, on record, they seem too act-y, and very showy. I am sure with the visuals, these would work better but taking them as they are, some performances seem just a little overdone. Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, doesn't possess the best voice. It's nasal and a bit shrill, and on a lot of the tracks those traits show, but the thing with him is that he has such charisma and presence that any deficiencies can be overlooked.  Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed A Dream" reportedly has been getting applause after applause on the test screenings and I can sense why. The recording here is great, but again, I suspect gains from more acting than singing. (I have read reviews wherein the camera never leaves her face during the scene) Samantha Barks' "On My Own" fares better - she is a stage veteran, after all, and you can sense that she knows her way through a song. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Eddie Redmayne so expressive in his singing - ready your hanky for "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables." There's even a song just for the movie, "Suddenly, " if only to get a Best New Song nomination for the Academy Awards.  The recording just whets my appetite for the movie, truthfully, and I just hope it lives up ti its promise. 

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