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NO RESERVATIONS – Philip Glass and Conrad Pope

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A gastronomical romantic comedy starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart, No Reservations follows the fortunes of top New York chef Kate (Jones), and the way her life changes when she unexpectedly becomes the guardian of her young niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine). Director Scott Hicks’s cute romance was a comparative box-office success, but had a somewhat checkered musical history.

Originally Philip Glass – yes, Philip Glass! – was hired to write the music for his first Hollywood romantic comedy, and recorded a full score; however, during the film’s post-production the executives at Castle Rock decided that a warmer and more traditional romantic score was required in certain places, so in came composer and popular orchestrator Conrad Pope to work in some new material. The resulting soundtrack CD contains two of Glass’s original cues – “Zoe & Kate Watch Video” and “Zoe Goes to the Restaurant” – as well as one Pope piece (“Truffles and Quail”) and a whole load of popular bel canto Italian opera because, you know, the film’s about food, and opera and good food go together.

Pope’s piece is a pizzicato-filled, whimsical little dance featuring a lovely clarinet melody, while Glass’s music has a slightly wistful quality that retains his familiar minimalist sound, but somehow managed to adopt a warmer, more enticing sound which admirers of his work in film will surely find appealing.

The opera, of course, is uniformly magnificent: it doesn’t get much better than Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi performing arias from classic works like Aida, Gianni Schicchi, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Madam Butterfly, La Gioconda and Turandot. I defy anyone not to melt into raptures upon hearing Pavarotti belt out his signature tune, “Nessun Dorma”, or not to lament his untimely passing.

The other songs are also pretty darn good, including Canadian jazzer Michael Bublé performing the classic “Sway”, and the incomparable Paolo Conte delivering one of his idiosyncratic signature tunes, “Via Con Me’. It’s not a traditional score soundtrack by any means (there’s only just under 6 minutes of actual score on Decca’s album) – but when the music’s this good, it’s sometimes nice to take a slightly different road.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Truffles and Quail (Conrad Pope) (1:34)
  • Sway (performed by Michael Bublé) (3:10)
  • Celeste Aida (Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Luciano Pavarotti) (3:32)
  • O Mio Babbino Caro (Giacomo Puccini, performed by Renata Tebaldo) (2:13)
  • Zoe & Kate Watch Video (Philip Glass) (2:11)
  • Libiamo Ne Lieti Calici (Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Joan Sutherland & Carlo Bergonzi) (3:04)
  • Via Con Me (performed by Paolo Conte) (2:32)
  • La Donna E Mobile (Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Joseph Calleja) (2:13)
  • Un Bel Di (Giacomo Puccini, performed by Renata Tebaldo) (4:56)
  • Zoe Goes To The Restaurant (Philip Glass) (1:32)
  • Cielo E Mar (Amilcare Ponchielli, performed by Luciano Pavarotti) (5:02)
  • Mambo Gelato (performed by Ray Gelato) (2:58)
  • Nessun Dorma (Giacomo Puccini, performed by Luciano Pavarotti) (2:57)
  • Count On My Love (performed by Liz Phair) (3:40)

Running Time: 41 minutes 34 seconds

Decca B0009397-02 (2007)

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