Recording information: Air Studios, London (09/2012); Avatar Studios, New York (09/2012).
The 2013 British film Summer in February, about a love triangle among some artistic types in scenic Cornwall, was not terribly well reviewed. Its soundtrack, too, treads ground that will be very familiar to those who frequently attend lush art-house fare: big, romantic melodies, a few faintly recognizable vocal melodies with the vocals so processed that you wonder whether there's a human behind them at all, and a gauzy sheen covering the whole and blotting out any possible sharp edge. But composer Benjamin Wallfisch, who has written a good deal of this stuff, has come up with a novel twist this time: beginning with Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, he convinced top-level players, including his father, Raphael Wallfisch, to sign on to the performance. Now, the nameless musicians who labor in film-studio orchestras are probably among the more underrated figures in the music ecosystem, but Wang is one of the more exciting young pianists around, and you don't typically hear someone like her in this setting. She's the most prominent of the soloists, and the smoothness of her lines will add emotional impact for those ready to accept the assumptions of this kind of thing. The music was also beautifully recorded. Your reactions here will definitely depend on your general attitude toward the source material, but this is an above-average example. ~ James Manheim