For those who like to keep score — film score, that is — it’s worth playing catch-up on a few late entries of the holiday-release barrage. In the case of Tous Les Matins du Monde (”All the Mornings of the World”), the CD practically is the movie. A reverse Amadeus set in 17th-century France — Jean-Pierre Marielle plays a hermit-like musical genius, and Guillaume Depardieu is the glib student who becomes a royal favorite while bedding the older man’s daughter — Matins is little more than late-baroque MTV. But that’s okay: Its score is like a gorgeously slow bathtub soak for the ears. Consisting mostly of chamber pieces by the actual composers the two characters are based on, the soundtrack was masterminded by bass violist Jordi Savall, who threw passion into the solos, oversaw the ensemble pieces, and even wrote a few period soundalikes to fill in the gaps.
Another oddity is the music for the recent TV documentary Lincoln, written by Aladdin’s Alan Menken in a High-Americana style far different from his Disney scores. The album starts off on the wrong foot with an opening theme that in peak and resolution sounds awfully like ”Ashokan Farewell,” the fiddle tune that opened each episode of Ken Burns’ The Civil War series on PBS. But Menken immediately rights himself with ”Lincoln the Unknown,” a lovely, waltzing secondary theme that nods appropriately to Stephen Foster’s ”Beautiful Dreamer.” And the composer, adapter Douglas Besterman, and orchestrator Michael Starobin throw in enough Charles Ives pepper to make Lincoln more than the usual retread Coplandisms.
On the more commercial front is Marc Shaiman’s solid soundtrack for A Few Good Men: intelligent pop symphonics that offer more surprises than the overinflated movie they accompany. But while the soundtrack gets bonus points for including the original 1953 Big Mama Thornton version of ”Hound Dog” — for no apparent reason, but who cares? — those points are negated by the CD’s measly 27-minute running time. The Matins score runs nearly three times that length, making it the better value in every sense. Matins: A Lincoln: B- Men: C+