French composer Francis Lai is probably best known for his Oscar winning score for the 1970 film Love Story, but this retrospective album of Lai’s best works, conducted by Lai himself, sheds new light on his immense career and impressive body of work. Composed mostly of gentle, low-key, piano-led pieces, this collection of 20 songs spans almost three decades in just over an hour. Action pieces these are not (unless you count the dampened percussion in the opening minute of “Folies Bergeres” as action). This is the kind of softly sensual and slightly exotic music that Francis Lai is a master at creating. Each track moves along with unhurried grace, often with sweeping strings backing up the more expressive and central piano melodies. Some pieces are playful (“Le Lecon Particuliere”) while others are more sensual (the theme from “Emmanuelle II” comes to mind), but Lai always strikes an ear-pleasing balance between lighthearted and emotionally thoughtful. The five-minute track from “Love Story” is the most memorable and touching track on the album, combining Lai’s ever-present sense of tenderness with a hint of loss and consolation. Francis Lai, an accordionist by training, has left behind a lovely body of work and this album is a pleasant reminder of all that he has done.
Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: Enjoying a lazy (yet refined) day around the house
Stay Away if: You’re expecting explosive action
To purchase Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection, visit Amazon