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La Ligne Droite
Album Cover Art
Composed, Orchestrated, and Conducted by:

Produced by:
Maggie Rodford
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Varèse Sarabande
(March 8th, 2011)
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Download only release in America, though a CD was pressed commercially by Varèse Sarabande's European branch, Colosseum. Some of these CDs were sold for a brief time on Varèse's main American site.
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Buy it... if you are partial towards the melodic grace of Patrick Doyle and cyclical rhythms of Philip Glass, two trademark styles merged into this minimalistic but powerful score.

Avoid it... if you have absolutely no tolerance for somewhat repetitious chamber scores, though the ten performers who comprise most of this music accomplish the kind of narrative depth rarely heard in scores with ten times the number of performers.
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WRITTEN 7/5/11
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La Ligne Droite (The Straight Line): (Patrick Doyle) A genuinely unexplored segment of the sporting world on film is blind running, a sport that requires its competitors to run alongside a guide and therefore be in perfect synchrony with that other runner. One such pairing is the focus of La Ligne Droite, a 2011 French film by acclaimed director Regis Wargnier. Obviously a topic of smaller scope than normal for the director, La Ligne Droite features a script of solely his writing that does indeed shed light on the obscure sport but dissolves into predictable romantic melodrama before long. A young hothead runner loses his eyesight in an accident but wishes to continue competing, and he ends up acquiring the help of a female guide whose checkered past includes criminal activity and family problems. The training sequences involving the male lead's adaptation to the concept of blind running have been praised, but criticized with equal disappointment has been Wargnier's rather bland handling of the on again/off again romance that inevitably develops. The French language film opened in the arthouse theatre circuit in its native country but didn't make it far beyond. In its limited English-language reviews at its debut, writers noted Patrick Doyle's score as being a very obvious (and potentially distracting) element of the film at times, dominating the race sequences with a forward mix. The composer's collaboration with Wargnier goes all the way back to the early years of his writing career, including strong dramatic music for Indochine, Une Femme Francaise, and Est-Ouest. After a period over two years from 2009 to 2010 with only one minor score to his name, Doyle entered 2011 poised to make a splash with Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, very high profile productions that pressed the composer into learning current Hollywood blockbuster scoring techniques and adapting his own style to fit that necessary mould.

Undoubtedly, La Ligne Droite is about as far from Doyle's other 2011 projects as one could get in terms of expectations, though it should perhaps come as no surprise that when La Ligne Droite and Thor debuted at roughly the same time, the former was embraced as a work much more representative of Doyle's established style than the latter. Both are outstanding works on their own, and whereas Thor is largely considered Doyle's take on the Hans Zimmer/Remote Control influence in Hollywood, La Ligne Droite has been very commonly described as Doyle's take on the trademarks of Philip Glass. Regardless of its obvious references to Glass' unmistakable style, the score still manages to exude airy, rhythmic mannerisms that are as purely Doyle as Much Ado About Nothing. The only difference here is the surprising enunciation of that style. The budget for La Ligne Droite was limited, but Doyle insisted that a chamber ensemble would be best built to handle a story of this level of intimacy. He thus hired ten members of the London Symphony Orchestra to perform the spectrum of strings, a harp, and a piano (Doyle himself contributes one solo piano cue) and recorded them at very close distances to the microphone to enhance their size. A few of the fuller cues sound as though they may have been overdubbed, though an additional recording with the Hungarian Studio Orchestra is credited for the soundtrack and may have been used to beef up the soundscape with some extra strings instead. The emphasis on the performance, despite the fact that the majority of the duties fall on the shoulders of the various string players, is on the piano, the instrument playing a pivotal role in a wide spectrum of emotional applications that range from very slight rhythmic accents to rolling elegance reminiscent of Est-Ouest. The harp is unfortunately buried in the score's final mix, prominent in "Stealing a Car" but almost indistinguishable in "Leila's Past" and "Through the Tunnel." There is also a very, very slight accompaniment of cymbals, tapped in "Leila Runs Free" and "Stadium Memories" but either abandoned or lost in the mix thereafter.

Ultimately, this is a score for piano lovers, however, featuring performances of both grace and fierce rhythmic force. The sense of movement is something that Doyle clearly sought as a foundation of La Ligne Droite, almost every scene relating to the training, racing, or romance utilizing various pace-setting devices from the strings and piano. The composer is also, as usual, one of distinctive melodic inclination. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of La Ligne Droite, even exceeding the limitation of the recording to a double quartet, is the fact that the score is surprisingly monothematic. Doyle tends to write melodies for each concept or character in his scores, but this time he connects all of the facets of this story with a common set of underlying progressions of chords and specifically links the two leading characters together with a primary theme that exists in many guises but basically remains solid throughout the work. This consistency, combined with the perpetuate drama of a minor-key environment until the last few minutes of the score, is why La Ligne Droite will seem to be a bit of a redundant listening experience to some collectors on album. From a technical standpoint, however, Doyle accesses his common chord progressions and the two halves of the main theme in such a variety of ways, even with the small ensemble, that the score manages to remain fresh over its 40-minute running time on that product. While Doyle's theme for the pair of runners in La Ligne Droite may seem a simple representation on the surface, the deviation of its parts throughout the score is constantly rewarding. The album starts briskly with "Leila Runs Free," which immediately launches into the "A" phrase of the theme, five notes rising from and returning to key. The "B" phrase immediately follows and traverses upwards in similar fashion. Doyle sometimes blends these phrases into one fluid movement, but before taking that route, he begins a technique of duality in the score (logically for the reliance of the leads on each other) that causes both phrases of the theme to be repeated twice. Instead of simply doing this in basic John Barry style, Doyle uses different sets of strings to literally answer each other in the performances of the phrases.

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Average: 3.97 Stars
***** 153 5 Stars
**** 63 4 Stars
*** 38 3 Stars
** 26 2 Stars
* 24 1 Stars
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Alternative review at
Southall - August 22, 2011, at 12:05 a.m.
1 comment  (1757 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 40:13
• 1. Leila Runs Free (1:40)
• 2. Stadium Memories (2:34)
• 3. Seeing Her Son (1:35)
• 4. The Changing Room (1:09)
• 5. Training Games (1:28)
• 6. First Training (1:38)
• 7. Training Breakthrough (1:42)
• 8. The Other Woman (1:42)
• 9. You Tricked Me! (1:31)
• 10. Suspension Bridge (2:21)
• 11. Stealing a Car (2:23)
• 12. Running in the Sand (3:38)
• 13. Yannick Falls Overboard (1:11)
• 14. Rescued (1:57)
• 15. Playing Bridges (1:46)
• 16. Leila's Past (1:48)
• 17. Triple Training (2:06)
• 18. Raising Hands Together (1:46)
• 19. Through the Tunnel (1:13)
• 20. The Race (2:23)
• 21. Yannick and Leila (2:41)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a note from the director about the film, score, and composer.
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