"Septuagenarian composer Maurice Jarre is one of the great patriarch's of modern film music - quite literally. Not only has the three time Academy Award winner been responsible for scoring some of cinema's most enduring epics including Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Zhivago, his son Jean-Michel is also among the most distinguished of soundtrack composers - most famous, of course, for his Oxygene theme from Gallipoli, and spectacular outdoor concerts featuring record crowds listening to record quantities of synthesisers.
Monsieur Jarre pere has himself been known to have a penchant for sonic electronics, but here reverts to a traditional orchestral score that is the equal of any of his imposing oeuvre.
From the opening bars, comprising a delicate piano figure that is as mellifluous and captivating as Chopin, we are treated to a sublime and profoundly moving musical work that envelops us in emotion without the slightest need of assistance from cinematic context.
Underpinned by a bittersweet, question and answer motif, a simple and memorable melody that is the perfect foundation for the score's refined orchestral development, Jarre evokes a complex sentiment of melancholy that filters, radiates and reflects the rays of hope suggested by the film's title.
Jarre has a fondness for including specific ethnic elements in his score, but here eschews the use of overtly authentic touches in favour of a subtle influence of Hungarian folk-music - such a treasure trove of inspiration for composers from Bartok to Liszt - to enrich the score's melodic texture.
The mostly tender orchestration is interrupted in the grimly titled cue War and Misery with strident militaristic brass, while Sunshine's darkest shadows are cast with the sombre strings of To The Ghetto, though even here interpolated with paradoxically jaunty folk phrases.
The CD concludes with The Sonnenscheins (now there's a sunny name), a stunning reprise of the opening piano figure, central motif and other themes, heightened by soprano and chorus interpretations and a coda that builds to a rapturous crescendo.
If you think seven tracks of approximately 36 minutes of music is poor value, think again. It may be only half the content of some CDs, but the content is more than twice the quality (of most). Consider it this way: you can hear this wonderful music twice as often in the same amount of time. That might sound glib, but take it seriously. A triumph of quality over quantity, this disc of Sunshine should leave you emotionally thunderstruck."