CZAS HONORU – Bartosz Chajdecki
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
One of the most celebrated and popular Polish television series of all time, Czas Honoru (A Time of Honor) tells the story of a group of friends, their lives and loves, as they struggle to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. Starring Maciej Zakoscielny, Jakub Wesolowski and Jan Wieczorkowski, the show has been a smash hit in its native country since it first began airing on the TVP network in 2008; now in its sixth season, it continues to attract large domestic audiences, has made stars of its lead actors, and helped launch the career of its composer, Bartosz Chajdecki.
Chajdecki was nominated for an IFMCA Award for his work on the third season of the show, and with music this good, it’s not difficult to see why. The score is fully orchestral, fully orchestrated, and absolutely wonderful. The beautifully classical, piano-and-cello main title “Czołówka” features throughout a great deal of the score, either in direct thematic statements, or as deconstructed fragments embedded in other cues. A wonderfully rich polonaise, “Polonez”, reflects the musical heritage of Poland’s opulent past, and the love theme, “Miłość”, has an elegant sweetness to it, with its clean and graceful cello lines, while the more dirge-like “Getto” encapsulates the drudgery of life in occupied Warsaw with insistent snare rhythms, but captures the sense of heroism and defiance of its people with a searching string theme and a tender oboe countermelody.
There’s also some wonderfully stark, violent action music too. “Ucieczka” is a 5-minute tour-de-force of swirling string lines, thunderous brass blasts and chanted vocals interspersed with moody four-note interjections based on a deconstructed version of the main title. Later, “Pogoń” is a vivid chase cue full of movement and energy, with violas running band and forth over a con legno beat; when a male voice choir comes in half way through the cue chanting the name of the show, “czas honoru”, accompanied by vicious brass blasts and low, low piano chords, the effect is startlingly good. The percussive lines return in dangerous, threatening “Zagrożenie”, this time with an almost gypsy-like fiddle element fizzing over the top of more insistent vocals.
The commercial soundtrack for the show contains music from the first three seasons of the show; a promotional release containing music from Seasons 4, 5 and 6 was released in 2013. The promo is just as good as the commercial release, in that it takes the music heard on the regular release, and builds on it, while adding new themes and ideas to reflect the increasing scope of the show. “Going Forward” is a dramatic, thrusting piece which pits a surging string motif against a rhapsodic piano line and alternating brass phrasing, eventually emerging into a new variation on the main theme, in which the melody seems to have been inverted to give it a new spin.
“Peace” has a Lisa Gerrard/Lisbeth Scott vibe to it, with a sultry, almost Middle Eastern female vocal effect that speaks of loss and longing, while its counterpart “Fragile Peace” again features a female vocal, but this time with a more angelic aspect, cooing softly over a deconstructed statement of the Czas Honoru theme. “Sleeping with a Spy” starts off with a florid piano solo, before eventually emerging into a romantic string wash of passionate intent that builds towards an appropriately euphoric climax; it’s sibling, “Spy”, starts in similar fashion, but goes down a much darker road as it develops, with more intense strings, descending woodwind motifs, and a slightly harsh, metallic effect that gives the score an appropriate sense of intensity and tension.
There’s action here too – “Conflict” is another one of those pulsating pieces with a scattershot, helter-skelter string beat and jazzy pianos, and even some more contemporary-sounding synth beats to give it some muscularity. The “Time Tango” takes the traditional instruments associated with that most exotic of dances – accordion, piano, strings, horns – and blends it into a piece of music which is one part ballroom seduction, one part Matrix action sequence, but is wholly something to behold. When the accordion starts to play a variation on the main theme during the cue’s second half, you know you’re listening to something special.
Buy the Czas Honoru soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
Track Listing (Seasons 1-3 Commercial CD)
- Czołówka/Opening Title (1:34)
- Ucieczka/Escape (5:05)
- Polonez (3:57)
- Łapanka (3:26)
- Egzekucja/Execution (2:51)
- Warszawa (3:56)
- Getto/Ghetto (3:45)
- Niepokó/Anxietyj (5:13)
- Pogoń/Chase (4:25)
- Okupacja/Occupation (3:28)
- Miłość/Love (2:53)
- Oczekiwanie/Waiting (3:01)
- Zagrożenie/Danger (3:25)
- Wojna/War (2:47)
- Spotkanie/Meeting (4:13)
- Czas Honoru/A Time of Honor (5:38)
Track Listing (Seasons 4-6 Promo)
- Opening Title (1:34)
- Going Forward (5:09)
- Peace (3:41)
- Conflict (3:30)
- Sleeping With a Spy (3:07)
- Time Tango (4:56)
- Fragile Peace (3:00)
- Spy (5:46)
Running Time: 50 minutes 10 seconds – Commercial CD
Running Time: 30 minutes 46 seconds – Promo
Polskie Radio SA PRCD-1326 (2011) – Commercial CD