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Michael Nyman and Peter Greenaway had already collaborated on six experimental films prior to 1982's The Draughtsman's Contract, but it was this film, made with a full cinematic release in mind that brought both director and composer to the attention of a more mainstream film audience.
To match the film's 17th century setting, each of the pieces composed for the film took an element of a piece – some quite fragmentary – from English composer Henry Purcell as an inspiration or starting point. While this allowed the music to match the period portrayed, Nyman's use of elements in the Michael Nyman Band such as saxophones and electric bass, instruments that hadn't existed in Purcell's time, along with his own compositional style gave the music a late 20th century modernity that resonated with the audience. The soundtrack became Nyman's first international success in the area of film music and some of the pieces composed for this film remain hugely popular with concert audiences to the present day. As the composer notes in his introduction to the album, the music has altered and expanded in 23 years' of concerts. Most of the musicians in The Michael Nyman Band are long-term members and their knowledge of every element of the music and confidence with the material is reflected in the quality of these performances recorded at Abbey Road Studios in April 2005. The music for The Draughtsman's Contract is familiar to a vast audience who've almost certainly never even seen the film as it has been extensively used in advertising and is among the most frequently played contemporary music on classical radio stations around the world.
"The purpose of the Composer's Cut series is to present music from my soundtracks in a state of continuous evolution. As I transferred particular cues from film to concert hall both musical structures changed and performance styles developed, enabling the music, perhaps, to realise its true potential. So these recordings represent the Michael Nyman Band's state-of-performance as of spring 2005." – MN August 2005
The Composer's Cut series vol. 1
1 Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepards 5:01
2 The Garden Is Becoming A Robe Room 7:45
3 An Eye For Optical Theory 4:28
4 A Watery Death 5:34
5 The Disposition Of The Linen 5:30
6 Queen Of The Night 6:55
7 Bravura In The Face Of Grief 10:38