Great thriller soundtracks back to back on one CD – the soundtracks for both French Connection films, both handled by funky jazzman Don Ellis – plus the even rarer score for the later Popeye Doyle film, by Brad Fiedel – packaged here with other rare bonus tracks too! The music by Don Ellis is really incredible – a real cut above other 70s cop and action soundtracks, with a dark edge that shows that Ellis had been listening to some of the hipper European soundtrack composers of the time, but was still also cool enough to kick in with a badass kind of groove whenever he could! The instrumentation on the tunes is very odd – familiar, yet askew – as trumpet, guitar, and keyboard bits come off with some very weird effects. The sound of Popeye Doyle is a bit different – given that the film was an 80s TV addition to the French Connection narrative – with Ed O'Neil in the lead role that was previously handled by Gene Hackman. But Brad Fiedel's score is still pretty nice – definitely more 80s in its instrumentation, but handled with a mode that echoes the Ellis years, with the flavor of a decade later. This 2CD package has way more material than the previous issue – with a total of 48 tracks from the first two films – and 29 more from Popeye Doyle – a whopping 77 tracks in all, with some great notes too!
Dejan Lazić has long been interested in the art of the transcription, and here his program is built around the piano concerto that Beethoven fashioned from his own Violin Concerto. Lazić gives a fine performance: Trim and punchy, it sits well under his fingers. It was created for London-based Muzio Clementi, pianist and publisher, whose imposing B-minor Sonata makes an apt companion. As does the third panel of this triptych, the Sonata written by Johann Baptiste Cramer, a musician admired by Beethoven and who also settled in London. His dramatic sonata “Le Retour à Londres” is thrillingly played here.