This album creates an ambience that captures the film noir flavor of the film, yet lacks much of the substance that makes for a great film soundtrack. I must disagree with the opinion of Mr. Moodindigo2 when he asserts that you should not go looking for perfection in an album, rather accept it for what it's worth. Somebody once said, "If you only accept the best, you'll never be disappointed." Beyond the technical flaws discussed in other reviews, I found the choice of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8, (AKA The Pathatique) so hackneyed that I almost gave up on the soundtrack before the second track played. And then they went ahead and repeated it! Aaaaaaack!
To be fair, there is some very interesting music on this CD, especially the brief pieces specifically written for the movie by Carter Burwell. I found the songs compelling and beautiful. However I was very disappointed with the classical pieces interspersed throughout the album. I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to classical music, and because I'm so familiar with them, I found the Beethoven pieces distracting when they didn't transition into the next movements. One track infuriated me because it was cut off in mid-movement! Even if it didn't play all the way through in the movie, that's no reason to cut it short on a CD!
Also, since I'm being critical: I didn't find the phrasing or playing of the piano pieces especially moving. I guess I've been spoiled by far superior versions by Brendal, Kissin and others that I own. Again, why settle for less than the best?
Five stars for the music written by Carter, but minus three stars for the sound quality, editing and performances of the classical works. Look to THE RED VIOLIN, 2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY or even AMADAUS for a lesson on how classical music should be used in a movie soundtrack.