Home > Reviews > LORD OF THE CARPATHIANS – Bartlomiej Gliniak

LORD OF THE CARPATHIANS – Bartlomiej Gliniak

January 21, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

lordofthecarpathiansOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lord of the Carpathians – Niedźwiedź: Władca Gór in its original Polish – is a feature documentary directed by Krystian Matysek about brown bears living in the Carpathian Mountains of eastern Europe. A well-regarded and well-made film, it won awards at the International Festival of Films on the Environment in Banska Bystrica, and at the International Festival of Nature Films in Lodz in 2012, before recieving a short theatrical release at the beginning of 2013.

Nature documentaries often elicit great scores, mainly due to the fact that the music has to convey a lot of the emotion and action in the narrative, and Lord of the Carpathians is no different. The score is by Bartlomiej Gliniak, and it’s outstanding: dark and menacing at times, energetic at others, generally fully orchestral, and with a thematic sweep that is quite beguiling. The main title, “Niedźwiedź: Władca Gór – Czołówka”, is surprisingly dark, with rumbling drums and moody electronics beneath a swirling, bass-heavy string theme. The weight and might of the bears – the top of their food chain – is illustrated perfectly by the piece, which captures the magnificence of these powerful creatures, but as the score progresses it moves into much more lyrical, emotional territory, depicting their relationships with their ursine families and their lives in the sometimes harsh climate they inhabit.

“Zima” has a twinkly, magical sound with a gorgeous central cello melody, capturing the beauty and timelessness of the mountains in winter. ‘Strumyk” has an ethereal, cleverly-structured echoing vocal effect surrounded by chimes, breathy pan-pipes, and lightly dancing orchestral textures that mimic the endless movement of a river. “Wycieczka w Góry” is unexpectedly tense and dramatic, with slithering woodwinds and low-registered string and brass clusters capturing the danger inherent in the furry protagonist’s trek across the peaks. This continues into the equally captivating “U Górali”, which features some fearsome string runs that insinuate jeopardy and aggression, as well as “Drugi Niedźwiedź”, which has some dramatic rhapsodic piano chords and brass whole notes towards its conclusion.

One thing I especially love about Gliniak’s work here is the innovativeness he shows in his orchestration choices and instrumental combinations. Every cue has some unusual or unexpected texture which makes the musical makeup of the score fascinating. Whether it’s the prepared piano and woodblocks in “Wycieczka w Góry”, the pizzicato sequence in “Smolarze”, the Rachel Portman-esque woodwinds and folk-inflected cellos of “Rumunia”, the accordions of “Ukraina”, the snake-like string textures in “Wilki”, or the soothing voices of “Polowanie”, every facet of the score shows a composer completely at ease with his own technique. Sometimes the idea lasts for just a few seconds, sometimes across multiple cues, but it makes the score endlessly absorbing.

Buy the Lord of the Carpathians soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Niedźwiedź: Władca Gór – Czołówka (2:31)
  • Zima/Winter (4:54)
  • Strumyk/Brook (2:02)
  • Władca Karpat/Lord of the Carpathians (2:28)
  • Wycieczka w Góry/Hike in the Mountains (5:27)
  • U Górali/In the Highlands (2:27)
  • Pierwsza Samotna Wyprawa/First Lonely Expedition (3:39)
  • Drugi Niedźwiedź/The Second Bear (5:34)
  • Smolarze (2:19)
  • Rumunia/Romania (4:36)
  • Ukraina/Ukraine (2:57)
  • Niedźwiedzia Przygoda/Bear Adventure (2:23)
  • Wilki/Wolves (3:49)
  • Polowanie/Hunting (3:30)
  • Niedźwiedzia Rodzina/Bear Family (4:24)

Running Time: 53 minutes 00 seconds

Metro Films Music (2013)

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