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SHADOWS – Ryan Shore

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shadows is a Macedonian film directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Milco Mancevski, starring Borce Nacev as Lazar Perkov, a doctor in modern day Skopje who, following his involvement in a deadly car accident, finds his life, his marriage and his career falling apart. However, after an old woman delivers a message to him in an ancient Macedonian dialect, Lazar encounters the seductive, erotic Menka (Vesna Stanojevska), who guides him on a journey to his ancestral home, and helps him learn things about his family’s dark past.

The music for Shadows is, somewhat unexpectedly, by American composer Ryan Shore, whose continued efforts to seek out interesting films outside the Hollywood mainstream is commendable. Written mainly for a conventional orchestral complement with an emphasis on strings, the score maintains a string East European flavor through traditional sounding chord progressions and the liberal use of a traditional woodwind instrument – it may be a kaval – that sounds like a variation on a bass flute.

Following on the from the main theme heard in the opening “Shadows”, some of Shore’s orchestral textures are gorgeous; the cello performances in “Menka”, “Cadaver” and “Lucky” are sublime, as is the conventionally tender theme in “Propelling”, each adding a great deal to the score’s overall feeling of dark, vaguely ominous, romance. Later, “Police Phonecall” reprises the sweeping main theme for full orchestra, building out of a solo piano to satisfyingly grand proportions. Occasionally, Shore makes use of some stark string-based dissonances in cues such as “Crash”, “Kalina”, “Tunnel Nightmare” and “Lazar’s Building”, reminding the listener than not all is well in Lazar’s world, and which occasionally bring to mind the most textural work of his Uncle Howard.

In addition, Shore often incorporates ethereal vocal work into his cues, notably the lively “Appearance”, the aforementioned “Kalina”, the unearthly “Peephole”, and the heightened montage sequences “Following Menka” and “Revelation”, which gives the score a dream-like, almost eerie quality that is very appealing. In the beautifully reflective “Burial”, Shore has his vocalist intone an emotionally powerful of the main theme, before bringing the score to a satisfying close with a recapitulation of the main theme in “Lazar and Dad”.

While the overarching sense of darkness and foreboding in Shadows may alienate some listeners, especially those who prefer more warmth in their scores, there’s no denying Ryan Shore’s talent in creating interesting moods, elegant textures, inviting themes, or his command of his orchestra. He really is a talent to watch, and if he has even half the critical and commercial success of his more famous relative, it will be well deserved.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Shadows (1:48)
  • Crash (1:28)
  • Appearance (2:18)
  • Menka (1:30)
  • Cadaver (1:35)
  • Kalina (2:55)
  • Apartment (2:53)
  • Peephole (1:37)
  • Tunnel Nightmare (1:54)
  • Propelling (1:19)
  • Following Menka (2:15)
  • Mailbox (3:55)
  • The Hospital (2:49)
  • Police (1:05)
  • Lazar’s Building (1:58)
  • Lucky (3:03)
  • Menka Hangs (1:18)
  • Revelation (4:29)
  • Journey (1:31)
  • Burial (4:54)
  • Lazar and Dad (1:42)

Running Time: 48 minutes 16 second

MovieScore Media MMS-09004 (2009)

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