Home > Reviews > Best of 2013 in Film Music – Germany

Best of 2013 in Film Music – Germany

butterflysdreamTHE BUTTERFLY’S DREAM – Rahman Altin
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There aren’t many Turkish films which attain any sort of international prominence, but director Yılmaz Erdoğan’s film Kelebeğin Rüyası – The Butterfly’s Dream – is one of the rarities. It was Turkey’s official submission to the 86th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film; according to its official press, the film is set in Turkey in the early 1940s, and revolves around two good friends, Rüştü Onur (Mert Firat) and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu (Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ), who make a living out of publishing poetry. However, with World War II in full swing across the world, and with the social class system and religious barriers of the time giving rise to numerous problems, their story takes a turn when both fall in love.

Newcomer Rahman Altin won the Public Choice Award at the World Soundtrack Awards at the 40th Film Fest in Gent, Belgium for his score, and it’s not difficult to see why. Lyrical, passionate, and performed by a full orchestra, this music is a thematic, romantic delight. Much of the score is built around piano melodies; there’s a beautiful, solemn piano motif in the main theme, “The Butterfly’s Dream”, which gradually grows to encompass gentle flutes and a more prominent, grinding cello motif. Later, cues such as “Sea of Typewriters”, and “Picnic” continue the prominent piano performances, while others like “Wall of Poets” introduce a longing, searching solo violin that is just sublime. “To Istanbul” makes excellent use of the full orchestra in one of the largest and lushest settings of the main theme, while “Coalmine” is much darker and more tension-filled.

Much of the score has the same sort of feel to it – that of beautiful, but slightly circumspect romance – and the lack of changes in tone and tempo do start to make the album drag a little towards its conclusion (although the final cue, “Farewell Muzaffer”, is lovely), but you can’t deny the score’s sense of calm, peace and reflection, and the orchestral performances, which are all superb. Rahman Altin is a composer to watch.

Track Listing: 1. The Butterfly’s Dream (4:29), 2. Forgetting (1:12), 3. So Much to Tell (2:30), 4. Sea of Typewriters (1:48), 5. Wall of Poets (1:43), 6. Picnic (1:27), 7. Did the Butterfly Wake? (5:14), 8. To Istanbul (1:25), 9. Regret (1:57), 10. We Are Alive (2:23), 11. Coalmine (4:35), 12. Sanatorium (1:09), 13. Snowball (1:38), 14. Poets from Zonguldak (1:19), 15. A Fragrance About You (1:05), 16. The Mystic’s Dream (0:52), 17. So Pale (2:25), 18. Night and the Poet (2:04), 19. Before Mirrors Spoke (2:32), 20. Good Morning, Mr. Muzaffer (0:39), 21. No Kisses (0:47), 22. My Destiny (0:30), 23. Farewell, Muzaffer (2:12). Dogan Music Company DMC-103666; Running Time: 46:09.

coletteCOLETTE – Atli Örvarsson
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Colette is a Czech film, directed by Milan Cieslar and based on the celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “A Girl from Antwerp” by Arnost Lustig. The film reveals the author’s personal experiences in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, his own recollections of several escape attempts from the hell that was Auschwitz, but most unexpectedly the romantic attraction and love he developed for a female fellow inmate. The film stars Jirí Mádl and Clémence Thioly, and opened in theaters in Europe in September 2013 to general acclaim.

It’s always interesting to me how different certain composers sound when they write music independently, away from the oversight of the Remote Control organization. Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson, who has worked with Hans Zimmer for years, wrote the score for Colette, and it’s a beauty. Basically, it’s his version of Schindler’s List, with all the importance, solemnity and seriousness that implies. Heavy on the strings and heavy on the melodrama, but with its own sort of intimate beauty, this is probably the best score of Örvarsson’s career to date. The main title, “Colette”, is a knockout, building from a repeated four-note theme into a dramatic but hugely attractive theme. The theme is prominent through much of the score – cues like “The Diamond”, the softly elegant “Merci Mon Amour”, and the piano-led pair “Praying for Willie” and “Triangle of Love and Hate” are among the best recapitulations.

There is some powerfully dramatic action music too, especially in “Workshop of Evil”, “Free as a Bird” and the exciting “The Escape”, which sees the percussion and brass sections getting a noticeably vigorous workout. As one would expect, the chilling horrors of life in a concentration camp are brought to bear in some desperately bleak passages, notably “Crematorium” and “Cossacks to the Rescue”, before the main theme returns in the moving end titles piece. Highly recommended, especially for those who want to hear what the Remote Control composers are actually capable of.

Track Listing: 1. Colette (3:35), 2. The Diamond (3:01), 3. Workshop of Evil (3:10), 4. Merci Mon Amour (2:18), 5. Crematorium (2:44), 6. Beautiful Brown Eyes (1:58), 7. Free As a Bird (1:53), 8. Praying for Willie (2:23), 9. Triangle of Love and Hate (2:47), 10. Planning the Escape (2:10), 11. Kanada (2:45), 12. Change of Heart (2:37), 13. Cossacks to the Rescue (2:52), 14. The Escape (2:41), 15. Outside the Church (2:35), 16. Colette: End Titles (2:44). Moviescore Media MMS-13009; Running Time: 42:13.

dieandereheimatDIE ANDERE HEIMAT: CHRONIK EINER SEHNSUCHT – Michael Riessler
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An expansive, 3½-hour German historical drama, Die Andere Heimat: Chronik Einer Sehnsucht is a theatrical sequel to the influential three-part 1980s mini-series Heimat, once again written and directed by Edgar Reitz. Set in a small village in the Hunsrück mountains, it centers on a young man, Jacob Simon (Jan Dieter Schnieder), who longs to leave home and settle in America with his love, Jettchen (Antonia Bill). However, when Jacob’s brother Gustav (Maximilian Scheidt) returns from Prussian military service, the love between Jacob and Jettchen is shaken, and Jacob’s life begins to head in a completely different direction from what he had originally planned.

The score for Die Andere Heimat: Chronik Einer Sehnsucht is by jazz clarinetist and composer Michael Riessler, who worked on previous Heimat stories in 2004 and 2006, but whose work is virtually unknown outside his native Germany. Riessler’s score complements with the stylized, black-and-white cinematography of the film itself. There’s a hint of Germanic folk music to the score, especially through the use of accordions, barrel organs, and Riessler’s own clarinet leading the stately main theme “Jakob’s Welt”, which roots the score in a more nostalgic, more idyllic time.

Most of the score is quite sparse, featuring just the aforementioned soloists, a small string section led by cellos, and a solo voice performed by vocalist Salome Kammer, and it casts a hypnotic spell redolent of rural life. “Sehnen” is the first of a couple of cues that have a definite liturgical feel, especially through the use of Kammer’s ghostly vocals, but much of the rest of the score tends to be quite textural and a little distant, eschewing any front-and-center emotional content for something a little more naturalistic. It’s pleasant enough, but certainly not something I would return to on a regular basis.

Track Listing: 1. Jakob’s Welt, 2. Erinnern, 3. Sehnen, 4. Amanaye, 5. Zeitloser Duft, 6. Ohne Dauer, 7. Kreisen, 8. Verweilen, 9. Jejoukale, 10. Innehalten, 11. Anderer Himmel, 12. Jakoulema, 13. Rastlos Schwebend, 14. Verhalten, 15. Unruhig, 16. Amanaye Kaikju. Cinik International Recording CNK-032; Running Time: 43:11.

dienordseeunsermeerDIE NORDSEE: UNSER MEER – Oliver Heuss
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Die Nordsee: Unser Meer is a feature-length nature documentary directed by Klaus Müller, which looks as the fauna and flora that resides in the water and along the coastlines of the North Sea in northern Europe; from gray seals swimming in the waters off Heligoland in Germany or basking on the chalk cliffs of Dover in England, to large squid in the Dutch Oosterschelde, the film uses helicopters and underwater cameras to observe these lovely creatures from all possible perspectives. Nature documentaries have often elicited some excellent music, ranging from George Fenton’s scores for the BBC over the course of the last 20 years, to Finnish composer Panu Aaltio’s exquisite score for the documentary Metsän Tarina last year, and Die Nordsee: Unser Meer continues the trend.

There’s some fabulous music here, courtesy of composer Oliver Heuss, a former member of the 1980s Europop band Trio Rio, who has been writing music for German film and TV since the late 1990s. The score is a combination of a large modern orchestra occasionally augmented some upbeat contemporary synth percussion, and judicious use of voices. The opening title, “Nordsee Titelthema”, is a beauty, a thrusting string piece overlaid with a wordless vocal that is very evocative; this idea continues on through various aerial flying sequences, such as “Flug Über die Nordsee”, “Flug Über Dänemark”, “Flug Über Schottland”, and so on. As the score develops several lovely set pieces emerge: “Die Flut Kommt” is a balletic, elegant piece for woodwinds; “Friesland” has a pretty, sentimental piano melody that has a sense of romantic intimacy; “Das Grüne Leuchten” re-visits the vocal element with a sense of beauty and mystery, and “Taucher und Kegelrobbe” presents a lovely, cello-led waltz theme for a pod of grey seals.

Some of the geographic-specific pieces have a little regional flavor (the Scotland pieces feature fiddles, guitars and of course bagpipes; the England piece evokes a little of Vaughan Williams in the woodwind writing), which is exceptionally pleasing. In fact, there’s barely a wrong decision on the entire album, which is a rare thing indeed. Heuss – who was completely unknown to me prior to this score – is clearly a composer with a significant amount of classically rich compositional talent, a way with melodies and orchestration, and a keen dramatic sense that is very pleasing indeed.

Track Listing: 1. Nordsee Titelthema (1:25), 2. Die Flut Kommt (1:28), 3. Friesland (3:01), 4. Helgoland (5:46), 5. Das Grüne Leuchten (0:51), 6. Robbenmädchen (1:52), 7. Taucher und Kegelrobbe (1:00), 8. Flug Über die Nordsee (1:40), 9. Nordeeinseln (5:22), 10. Flug Nach Dänemark (1:16), 11. Flug Über Dänemark (1:18), 12. Kampfläuferbalz (0:45), 13. Dänische Dünen (0:39), 14. Flug Nach Norwegen (2:38), 15. Fjordtaucher (1:53), 16. Kreaturen der Tiefe (2:15), 17. Norwegen (1:55), 18. Kampf der Moschusochsen (3:38), 19. Orkas, Chimären und Eishai (4:50), 20. Schottland (5:36), 21. Flug Über Schottland (2:05), 22. Englische Küsten (3:47), 23. Holland (3:03), 24. Ostfriesland (2:55), 25. Robbenwinterspiel (1:16), 26. Kampf der Kegelrobben (1:05), 27. Sturmfinale (1:55), 28. Nordsee Abspann (1:53). Amnoss Recordings; Running Time: 43:11.

heutebinichblondHEUTE BIN ICH BLOND – Johan Hoogewijs
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Heute Bin Ich Blond is a German comedy-drama directed by Marc Rothemund and starring Lisa Tomaschewski as Sophie, a 21 year-old girl in contemporary Germany who learns she has cancer. Rather than letting her diagnosis rule her life, she instead decides to enjoy her life as though she were not sick; pre-empting chemotherapy, she shaves her head and invests in nine different colored wigs, which help her live out nine different aspects of her personality. Together with her best friend Annabel (Karolina Teska), Sophie goes to parties, flirts, has sex, falls in love with her long-time friend Rob (David Rott), and writes her daily blog, while all the while the possibility of her imminent death looms on the horizon. The film was based on the popular autobiography by Dutch author Sophie van der Stap, “Meisje Met Negen Pruiken”, and received generally favorable reviews when it opened in cinemas in March 2013.

The score for the film is by Belgian composer Johan Hoogewijs, who is best known internationally for his score for the 2009 film Life in One Day. Hoogewijs’s score is effortlessly elegant, and generally optimistic, mirroring the positive outlook on life adopted by the lead character. The score is anchored by a lovely, expressive theme for piano, strings and glockenspiel in the opening cue, “Einzug im Krankenhaus”, and this style of writing continues through much of the score. There is a little bit of more contemporary synth noodling in cues like “Erste Bestrahlung und Brief an Krebs” and “Erste Chemo”, which comes across as a little aggressive and confrontational, although these soon do give way to more of the lovely, lyrical piano writing for which Hoogewijs is best known.

Cues like “Brief an Krebs”, “Alles Echt”, “Erste Zeitsprungmontage“ and “Zeitsprung” are simply lovely, unadorned piano cues, while cues like “Ich Sehe Meine Schône Schwester Wieder”, “Glatze Rasieren”, “Chantal Stirbt” and the joyous “Sie Sind Frei” flesh out the palette with strings, edgy pizzicato effects and sorrowful cello chords that are just superb. The commercial soundtrack album for Heute Bin Ich Blond features a mix of songs and excerpts from Hoogewijs’s score; the complete score promo runs for just under 40 minutes and is well worth seeking out if you can find it.

Track Listing: 1. Einzug ins Krankenhaus (1:16), 2. Erste Bestrahlung und Brief an Krebs (3:27), 3. Haaren Ausgehen (0:56), 4. Brief an Krebs (2:46), 5. Kickerkneipe Hochrechnung (0:30), 6. Alles Echt (2:13), 7. Auf die Bahre (0:46), 8. Erste Chemo (1:08), 9. Ich Sehe Meine Schône Schwester Wieder (1:44), 10. Liebeskummer (1:34), 11. Glatze Rasieren (2:49), 12. Erste Zeitsprungmontage (3:49), 13. Chantal Stirbt (2:59), 14. Neues Jahr (0:38), 15. Fahrt Zur Ostsee (0:57), 16. In der CT-Röhre (0:41), 17. Krebsreflexion (1:01), 18. Sophie und Sas (0:36), 19. Zeitsprung (3:51), 20. Universitât (1:28), 21. Sie Sind Frei (3:14). Promo; Running Time: 38:23.

ineinemwildenlandIN EINEM WILDEN LAND – Karim Sebastian Elias
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Germany has a surprisingly rich heritage of making films set in the American wild west – not so much spaghetti westerns as sauerkraut westerns – many of them adaptations of novels by Karl May about the adventures of Apache Winnetou, starring Pierre Brice and scored by Martin Böttcher. In Einem Wilden Land is a big-budget TV movie directed by Rainer Matsutani, starring Benno Fürmann, Darron Mayer and Nadja Uhl, which premiered on the German network SAT-1 in November. It follows the adventures of a family of German immigrants making a new life for themselves in the American West in the mid-19th century.

The score is by German composer and actor Karim Sebastian Elias, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, who has been writing for German film and TV projects since the early 2000s, and whose most high profile international score to date was for the 2011 documentary film Im Himmel Unter der Erde. Written mainly for a full orchestra (although there does seem to be quite a bit of synth overdubbing, especially in the brass writing), the central thematic idea, “Die Siedler”, is outstanding, featuring a German-language choir intoning over an expansive, sprawling main theme. The theme re-occurs frequently, in cues such as “Mila im Fernen Land and “In Einem Wilden Land”, but it never quite rises to the heights one might have expected for a project such as this.

There’s some thrusting, sort of Zimmer-esque action music, often accompanied by cool but slightly anachronistic modern electronic percussion, in cues such as “Aufbruch”, “Schicksalsnacht” and “Überfall”, which are interesting but sometimes have some odd meters and rhytmic ideas. Later, cues like “Indianerdorf”and “Indianer” work in some ethnic woodwinds and tribal percussion to good (if slightly stereotypical) effect; these are offset by some gorgeous, lyrical cello writing in the melancholically beautiful “Registrierung” and the warm, emotional “Zum Llano”. However, the almost comically Zimmeresque “Das Gewehr” could have been lifted wholesale from score for The Da Vinci Code, and “Verhandlungen” even uses a variation on the ‘horn of doom’! On the whole, though, this seems like TV music when a lot of other TV scores don’t these days – attractive and serviceable throughout, and occasionally very good, but for the most part limited in scope and ambition.

Track Listing: 1. Die Siedler (1:51), 2. Aufbruch (4:21), 3. Ankunft Im Fernen Land (1:45), 4. Registrierung (2:43), 5. Hoffnung (2:39), 6. Schicksalsnacht (3:19), 7. Mila im fernen Land (3:47), 8. Indianerdorf (1:26), 9. Der Siedlertreck Zieht Los (1:18), 10. Hoffnung (1:34), 11. In Einem Wilden Land (2:30), 12. Indianer (2:20 ), 13. Mila und Buffalo Hump (1:48), 14. Gefangennahme (1:57), 15. Das Gewehr (3:55), 16. Zum Llano (7:42), 17. Verhandlungen (2:18), 18. Skalp (2:18), 19. Überfall (4:08), 20. Friedensabstimmung (3:29), 21. Donnerherz (2:58), 22. Nachtlager (1:57), 23. Massaker (3:20), 24. Friedensvertrag (1:54), 25. Ankunft am Llano (0:53), 26. Finale (4:12). Alhambra CD-A9015; Running Time: 72:26.

nighttraintolisbonNIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON – Annette Focks
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Night Train to Lisbon is a German drama film directed by Bille August and starring Jeremy Irons. Based on the novel “Nachtzug Nach Lissabon” by Pascal Mercier, and written by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann, the film is about a Swiss professor who saves the life of a woman and then abandons his teaching career and reserved life to embark on a thrilling intellectual adventure, following in the footsteps of a doctor who opposed António de Oliveira Salazar’s right-wing dictatorship in Portugal in the 1950s. The score for Night Train to Lisbon is by Annette Focks, who is finally starting to gain some international prominence, having been working tirelessly on films in the German film industry for many years.

Classically oriented, dramatically open, and beautifully orchestrated, the score is excellent; after a subtle, understated opening for a gentle piano and soft strings, the music opens up in its second and third cues, presenting a series of lush, hopeful, elegant themes for the full orchestra, often underpinned by a subtle ostinato effect – sometimes in the percussion, sometimes via a rhapsodic piano, sometimes from rumbling strings – intended to mimic the sound of a locomotive. Beautiful solo passages for piano, cello and violin weave throughout the score, most notably in the title track, and later in cues such as “Reflection”, the wistful “On the Boat”, “Raimund”, the reflective “Mourning”, “Last Memory”, and the stunningly beautiful “Credits” piece.

These moments of sweeping lyricism are offset by more intense action pieces, some of which are enlivened by an unexpectedly jazzy solo trumpet; the superb “Revolution”, the ominous “Mendez”, and the tension-filled “Terrible Memories”, give the score some depth and a sense of drama. However, possibly the most effective and expressive moments come when Focks introduces a gorgeous acoustic guitar, representing the traditional fado music of Portugal – cues such as “Travel to Lisbon”, “New Clothes”, and the lyrical “Love Feelings” are especially enlivened by this musical idea, the latter even more so when the guitar begins a duet with a soulful solo cello. I can’t recommend Night Train to Lisbon highly enough as a solid, enjoyable, engaging drama score, with just a hint of spice and passion to make it stand out from the crowd. If you haven’t explored Focks’s music before, this is would be a wonderful place to start.

Track Listing: 1. Opener (2:59), 2. Travel to Lisbon (5:39), 3. Night Train to Lisbon (5:44), 4. Revolution (3:21), 5. Cemetary (3:11), 6. New Clothes (1:04), 7. Broken Hands After Mozart Sonata N.12 F-Dur (3:25), 8. Funeral (2:21), 9. Mendez (4:23), 10. Amadeus (2:15), 11. Reflection (2:29), 12. On the Boat (0:48), 13. Terrible Memoires (3:23), 14. Alone (1:13), 15. Jorge (1:58), 16. Raimund (5:48), 17. Thoughtfully (1:54), 18. A Present (3:40), 19. Mourning (1:22), 20. Drama (3:42), 21. Morning (1:31), 22. Love Feelings (1:13), 23. Escape (2:33), 24. Estefanias Memories (3:16), 25. Last Memory (0:59), 26. Credits (5:44), 27. Nunca é Tarde (Trio Fado Song Mix) (2:14). Alhambra CD-A9013; Running Time: 78:08.

ostwindOSTWIND: ZUSAMMEN SIND WIR FREI – Annette Focks
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ostwind: Zusammen Sind Wir Frei is one of those films which, had it been made in America, would have been made by Disney. It tells the story of a rebellious teenager, Mika, who is sent to stay with her stern grandmother, a former champion show jumper, on the family countryside stud farm, in order to “straighten her out”. There she encounters Ostwind, a temperamental old horse whose lack of discipline and bad temper led to the end of Grandmother’s competition career. Naturally, Mika and Ostwind bond, leading to reconciliations all round. The film is directed by Katja von Garnier, stars Hanna Binke, Marvin Linke, Cornelia Froboess and Tilo Prückner, and has a lovely original score by Annette Focks.

Like Night Train to Lisbon, Ostwind is fully orchestral too, although this score has a much more optimistic, upbeat sound, and even some hints of “spaghetti western” music in keeping with the film’s story about the bond between man and beast. The first cue, “Opener”, introduces the score’s core idea, combining rolling percussion and subtle electric guitar accents with more classically orchestral string themes, representing the sound of urban Deutschland as it collides with the more stately pace of life in the tranquil countryside. This concept continues on through cues such as “Mika Verwüstet Ihr Zimmer”, the more rock-inflected “Treckerfahrt”, the dreamy “Erste Annäherung”, and the central motif for “Mika”, which combine electric guitars and hopeful, searching string writing and a lilting piano motif.

As the score progresses the more lushly, romantic, pastoral music becomes a little more prominent. The gorgeous “Ostwind Flieht” and the determined-sounding “Reitunterricht” have a real sense of openness and freedom. “Sehnsucht” unexpectedly introduces a faraway-sounding female vocal performance in to the palette, which is quite lovely. “Einsam” presents Mika’s main theme in an attractive setting for a delicate piano. Conversely, “Standritt” brings the guitar and rock elements back in full force in a standout cue, and everything builds up to a powerful finale, which includes such excellent pieces as “Grenzenlose Freiheit”. With this score, and Night Train to Lisbon, Annette Focks may have finally started making a few in-roads into the consciousness of more mainstream film music fans – and not before time!

Track Listing: 1. Opener (2:51), 2. Mika Verwüstet Ihr Zimmer (2:04), 3. Wut Und Trauer (2:43), 4. Zugfahrt (1:29), 5. Treckerfahrt (1:52), 6. Erinnerungsfotos (1:54), 7. Erste Annäherung (3:01), 8. Eine Nacht Bei Ostwind (1:18), 9. Fütterung (1:12), 10. Mika (4:06), 11. Mika Striegelt Ostwind (3:15), 12. Ostwind Flieht (1:52), 13. Pferdeschlächter (1:07), 14. Sehnsucht (2:39), 15. Im Stall (1:30), 16. Reitunterricht (2:51), 17. Auf Dem Gipfel (1:47), 18. Abendessen (0:55), 19. Turnier (2:42), 20. Strandritt (2:35), 21. Ostwind ist Krank (2:37), 22. Betrug (1:23), 23. Einsam (3:07), 24. Vakuumgefühl (0:33), 25. Trauer (2:08), 26. Abfahrt (2:16), 27. Das Wiedersehen (2:09), 28. Ostwind Und Mika (2:43), 29. Grenzenlose Freiheit (2:52), 30. Farewell (2:08), 31. Up In the Air (3:25), 32. Mika Findet Ostwind Nicht (2:50). Alhambra CD-A9014; Running Time: 71:57.

rubinrotRUBINROT – Philipp F. Kölmel
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rubinrot is a children’s fantasy adventure film based on the first book in the “Liebe Geht Durch Alle Zeiten” series of popular German-language novels written by Kerstin Gier. The story follows a young girl, Gwendolyn Shepherd, who discovers that she and all the other members of her family can travel through time, and explores the opportunities and disadvantages such powers bring. The film is directed by Felix Fuchssteiner, stars Maria Ehrich, Jannis Niewöhner and Laura Berlin, and has a score by 40-year-old Philipp F. Kölmel, yet another composer who was completely unknown to me prior to this project.

Yet again, the music is unexpectedly great – fully orchestral, dark and powerful in parts, light and playful in others, with a real epic sweep. The opening cue, “Ready When You Are”, is wonderful, full of slashing string writing, heroic brass calls and rolling percussion – what a beginning! The score goes through a gamut of styles and ideas, clearly earmarking Kölmel as a composer who has a great deal of confidence composing engaging music in a multitude of styles. “Awakening” introduces a more pastoral piano theme, gentle and intimate, which gets a lovely recapitulation later in “Farewell”. The cue for “London” has a superb, ominous choral chant buried under more roaring orchestral goodness, an idea which re-occurs regularly throughout the score.

“Leap in Time” is a flamboyant waltz-time action sequence with a central motif that buzzes around the orchestra; “A Good Time” continues the waltz concept with another lush, beautiful dance, this time led by prominent woodwinds; “August Peregrin Pimplebottom” has a wonderfully eccentric little march for harpsichords. Not only that but there are dozens of superbly ominous, powerful action sequences – many of them featuring a choir – any of which would whet the appetites of the most discerning Lord of the Rings fans. “Maddy’s Vision”, “Chronograph”, the second half of “Lady Margret Tilney”, “Time Traveller” and the thunderous “Hyde Park” will all rock the foundations of your house, while the heavenly “Observatory” has a sense of awe and wonderment that is very attractive indeed. It’s true that the thematic ideas in Rubinrot are a little under-defined, but the orchestrations and colors and instrumental combinations on show are just so much fun and so rich, the lack of a “big theme” feels less of a hindrance here than it would in a more circumspect score.

The soundtrack also contains several songs performed by the popular Spanish singer-songwriter Sofi de la Torre, notably her hit single “Faster”, but these will be of little interest to score fans. More than anything, Rubinrot should make anyone whose film music tastes lie in the action and fantasy arenas sit up and take notice, and should put Philipp F. Kölmel firmly at the top of the list of composers ready to make the leap to scoring this sort of film in Hollywood.

Track Listing: 1. Ready When You Are (1:51), 2. Faster (performed by Sofi de la Torre) (3:48), 3. Awakening (1:21), 4. London (1:53), 5. Time Travelling Gene (3:13), 6. The Perfect Fall (performed by Sofi de la Torre) (3:53), 7. Leap In Time (3:56), 8. Maddy’s Vision (1:58), 9. Mme Rossini (performed by Ferran Cruixent) (0:56), 10. Lucas Montrose (1:27), 11. Sunrise (0:39), 12. Temple Underground Station (1:35), 13. Recognise Me (performed by Sofi de la Torre) (3:49), 14. Chronograph (1:51), 15. A Good Time (1:26), 16. Confession (1:04), 17. James August Peregrin Pimplebottom (2:02), 18. Letter From The Past (2:46), 19. Lady Margret Tilney (2:22), 20. Gideon’s Promise (0:52), 21. Time Traveller (1:52), 22. Count of Saint Germain (4:51), 23. Hyde Park (2:36), 24. Reconciliation (1:31), 25. Farewell (1:40), 26. Library (1:54), 27. Observatory (3:47), 28. Dungeon (3:36), 29. Remembrance (1:59), 30. Wings (performed by Sofi de la Torre) (4:08). Sony Classical 88765476512; Running Time: 70:36.

unseremutterunserevaterUNSERE MÜTTER, UNSERE VÄTER – Fabian Römer
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter is an ambitious 3-part German mini-series broadcast on the ZDF network in March 2013. The story follows five friends in their 20s, each on different paths through Nazi Germany and World War II: two are Wehrmacht soldiers on the Eastern Front, one is a nurse, one is an aspiring singer, and one is a Jewish tailor. The narrative spans five years in Berlin in the 1940s, beginning when the friends meet up for a last time before embarking on their journeys, enthusiastically vowing to meet up again the following Christmas. The series stars Volker Bruch, Tom Schilling, Katharina Schüttler, Miriam Stein and Ludwig Trepte, was directed by Philipp Kadelbach, and has an original score by composer Fabian Römer.

“Alle Ehre” starts the score off simply, with a gentle melody for strings and piano, and has a lightness-of-heart in the upbeat and optimistic “Fünf Freunde”, before things start getting more dramatic, and the onset of war and the specter of right-wing nationalism begins to raise its ugly head. The more martial and dramatic “Recap Teil 1” has a more strident percussion undercurrent, more insistent string writing, and a generally darker tone. The jarringly aggressive “Keine Hoffnung” makes wonderful use of a rattling bass flute, while “Angriff” underpins a searching string theme with a bold and dominant drumbeat.

The unique, highly dissonant “Sturm” and the subsequent “Wansinn” introduce bleak wind effects, ethnic woodwinds and layered, haunting vocals to excellent effect, creating an atmosphere of unease and confusion. The vocals return in the mysterious “Friedhelms Tod?”; haunting string and woodwind themes make “Abscheid” a more lyrical, if downbeat, interlude; and “Krieg Ist Warten” revisits the gentle melody for strings and piano first heard in the opening cue, expanding it for the full orchestra, although here it has a more reflective and resigned tone. The conclusion of the score comprises another striking action cue, “Hinterhalt”, and final renditions of the main theme and the ‘five friends’ theme in “Drei Gläser” which are quite beautiful.

Perhaps the one thing holding Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter back is a slight sense of anonymity – the score is technically accomplished and dramatically appropriate, but you get the sense that pretty much anyone could have written it, and other than the disturbing “Sturm” cue and the really lovely finale, there is little to distinguish Fabian Römer from the myriad of other composers writing competent TV music these days.

Track Listing: 1. Alle Ehre (2:07), 2. Fünf Freunde (1:41), 3. Das Foto (3:04), 4. Mein Kleines Herz (performed by Katharina Schüttler) (2:00), 5. Recap Teil 1 (3:58), 6. Vergiftetes Angebot (2:04), 7. Keine Hoffnung (2:01), 8. Sommersemester (1:09), 9. Angriff (1:43), 10. Sturm (3:21), 11. Fern (0:47), 12. Wahnsinn (3:17), 13. Flucht (1:32), 14. Friedhelms Tod? (3:39), 15. Abschied (4:25), 16. Partisanen (6:07), 17. Krieg Ist Warten (6:19), 18. Recap Teil 1 Und 2 (2:04), 19. Anzünden! (2:15), 20. Hinterhalt (2:14), 21. Stille Bar (2:22), 22. Drei Gläser (6:15). Colosseum CST-8164-2; Running Time: 64:24.

vergissmeinnichtVERGISS MEIN NICHT – Jessica de Rooij
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Vergiss Mein Nicht is a feature-length German-language documentary about Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the film looks at the life of Gretel Sieveking, the mother of director David Sieveking, whose diagnosis inspires David to look at both his parents’ marriage – they had been a part of the student movement in the 1960s and led an open relationship – and the German health care system as a whole, which cares for 2 million other Alzheimer’s patients each year. The score is by Jessica de Rooij, best known amongst film music fans for being the composer du jour of controversial director Uwe Böll, but who has been given the chance to turn her hand to something more substantial and meaningful here.

A small, almost chamber-sized score with more focus on solo instruments than the larger ensemble, de Rooij uses soft synths, chimes, woodwinds, guitars and a harmonica in the opening title piece, a gentle, intimate, but slightly sad little cue that attempts to capture both the life and imperceptible but unstoppable decline in the health of the director’s mother. Much of the score is given over to short vignettes of sound and music, many less than a minute in length, but which all build on the same sound palette to create a pervasive mood and tone for the score overall. The best cues include “Fotoalbum”, a pretty music-box style motif full of reflection and nostalgia that features an accordion in its second half; “Hochzeit”, which is anchored by a tender solo guitar; and “Autofahrt Stuttgart”, whose accordions and calliope-circus overtones make it a comedy delight.

“Autofahrt in die Schweiz” has a sense of Gallic charm and even a wonderfully sexy tango interlude, which may be stereotypical, but nevertheless sounds enchanting. Later, the harmonica takes the lead, duetting with a guitar in the catchy pair “Fahrt Durch die Berge” and “Gretel Wieder Daheim”. The score concludes with “Hamburg”, a restatement of the opening theme which brings the score full-circle.

Despite its slightness and brevity, Vergiss Mein Nicht is a lovely little score, quirky and idiosyncratic, but filled with as much heart and emotion as many more expansive orchestral works. Jessica de Rooij deserves to have a much more high-profile career than she does (please, no more scores for films like BloodRayne II – Deliverance or Far Cry!!), and although Vergiss Mein Nicht likely won’t be the score that brings her to the attention of the powers-that-be, she should certainly be on everyone’s radar as one of the leading female film score composers working today.

Track Listing: 1. Vergiss Mein Nicht (2:54), 2. Vorlesung (0:53), 3. Fotoalbum (1:41), 4. Diagnose (0:34), 5. Hochzeit (0:52), 6. Abschied am Bahnhof (0:30), 7. Autofahrt Stuttgart (1:06), 8. Gretels Schwestern (0:22), 9. Erinnerung an Gretels Vater (0:35), 10. Autofahrt in die Schweiz (3:13), 11. Ausblick auf Bergen und Seen (0:31), 12. Fahrt Durch die Berge (1:21), 13. Maltes Erinnerungen (1:14), 14. Die Liebe zu den Kindern (0:34), 15. Gretels Mutter (0:48), 16. Fahrt u. Ankunft im Pflegeheim (1:16), 17. Freude an Mathematik (1:37), 18. Gretel Wieder Daheim (1:01), 19. Hamburg (3:26). Promo; Running Time: 24:28

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  1. Christopher
    January 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

    What a great idea, Jon. I love this, will look into several of these as a result of it, and look forward very much to future similar posts. Bravo!

  2. January 7, 2014 at 7:34 am

    This is a coup for MMUK! Just an outstanding concept Jon and in my opinion long overdue. Thank you for all you do for the community. All the best!

  3. February 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Jon, just FYI it seems that the label has used your review as their product description for In Einem Wilden Land: http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/26720/IN-EINEM-WILDEN-LAND-IN-A-WILD-COUNTRY/

  1. February 3, 2014 at 4:34 am

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