Dreaming of Paris in springtime, Jamaica in summer . . . or autumn in New York? Forget the travel agent. It's cheaper to buy this CD, and just as rewarding. Close your eyes and be carried away. It's a cliche. But this emotive blend of jazzy standards and Gabriel Yared score delivers.
There is a wealth of talent here: virtuosic orchestral soloists, delicate arrangements, and the sublime voices of Page, Peyroux, Washington, Forest and the extraordinary Miriam Stockley. Page opens the CD with nothing more (or less) than a polite piece of pop, but from there on in, it's pure magic.
Peyroux has been compared to Billie Holiday, which is both unfair and silly, but in her own way she evokes a sparkling joie de vivre that is the euphoric side of the soundtrack's bittersweet sentiment.
Meanwhile, Washington's phrases are thick with autumnal gold in a peerless performance of the Vernon Duke evergreen that shares the film's title (yet strangely doesn't feature in the motion picture). Neither does Our Love Never Ends, a song fashioned from Yared's motifs, and far more effective then Horner's contrived effort on Bicentennial Man. Rather, it is deserving of the success of the Horner/Dion Titanic triumph (with which, admittedly, it also shares a downside - lyrics wetter than a sunken ship).
Yared's score draws inspiration from that elusive nuance between the seasons that is symbolic of our joys and sorrows. "The spring of hope . . . the winter of despair", wrote Dickens; "like a leaf on the breeze you blew away", sang Justin Hayward; "Autumn In New York is laughter mingled with pain" sings Washington here; and Yared says it all with the main themes of Autumn Forever.
It is achingly romantic music without a hint of bathos. Sweet, reedy saxophone and Stockley's haunting natural instrument add weight to the lush string beds that underpin the most emotionally piquant score of the year. Beautiful, moving and utterly captivating, this is a glorious soundtrack.