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Best of 2013 in Film Music – Spain

February 9, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

eltiempoentrecosturasEL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS – César Benito
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

El Tiempo Entre Costuras, “The Time Between Seams”, is an epic Spanish TV series based on the novel by María Dueñas. Broadcast on the Antena 3 network in October 2013, it stars Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga, a seamstress in Madrid in the 1930s, who is forced to flee her home when the Spanish Civil War breaks out. The score for El Tiempo Entre Costuras is by Los Angeles-based Andalusian composer César Benito, and it’s absolutely sensational. There’s something captivating, emotional, entrancing about César Benito’s work here. Epic, yet intimate, sweeping, yet personal, it’s one of the best scores for television you are ever likely to here. Beginning with the rhapsodic “Tema de Sira”, written for solo piano, the score opens up into the sparkling, busy “Madrid, 1922”, which captures the life and energy of pre-war Madrid through central theme which effortlessly moves around all sections of the orchestra, and features an especially gorgeous sequence for various solo woodwinds.

The fluid, flowing theme for Sira appears constantly throughout the score, keeping her life and fate the center of attention. In “Una Máquina de Escribir” it recieves its first performance accompanied by the orchestra; in “Mi Madre y Yo, Dos Extrañas” it is taken over by a haunting cello; in “Entre Costuras” it has a slightly faraway aspect, through its tinkling cimbalom countermelody and dreamy-sounding orchestrations; in “Amor Entre Guerras” it has a much more passionate, vigorous feeling, while “Agente Agoriuq” and “Modista, Espía, Amanta y Mujer” are straightforward re-statements for those wonderful, rolling pianos, although the latter of the two does have a slightly melancholy air. The conclusive “Final Abierto” restates the theme with its cimbalom orchestration, ending the score on a reflective note.

In a score full of highlights, it’s difficult to pick out especially notable cues, as all of them are so supremely good. Pieces like “Sus Pupilas Clavadas en las Mías” just overflow with emotion, gorgeous harmonies, and lyrical orchestrations, while pieces like “Nas Ruas de Lisboa” have a touch of Alexandre Desplat about them with their deft glockenspiel tinkles, pizzicato rhythms and soft vocal cadences.  Elsewhere, the moody, mysterious female vocal element and ethnic percussion and woodwinds in “En Marruecos” lends an ethereal quality to the series’s depiction of North Africa, while the later “Trapicheos y Contrabando” twists those orchestrations into a more strident, urgent action sequence with an impressive, bassy piano beat.

“Al Borde del Abismo” has a sense of despair and anticipation that is palpable; “La Sombra del Tercer Reich” is all dissonant brass wails and martial snare drum rhythms that break the peace and tranquility harshly. This carries over into the five-minute “Misión: Escapar”, a nervous, insistent action and suspense cue that eschews all melody and romance for harsh rhythms, percussion, and a general sense of unease and tension. However, I must stress that this is a score with no weak tracks, no moments of “down-time”, no moments where it starts to drag. Benito’s beautiful classical elegance shines through virtually the entirety of the work, with each section getting its chance to bask in the glow of the composer’s luscious melodies. It’s masterful.

Track Listing: 1. Tema de Sira (2:59), 2. Madrid, 1922 (5:28), 3. Una Máquina de Escribir (0:55), 4. Sus Pupilas Clavadas en las Mías (4:40), 5. Mi Madre y Yo, Dos Extrañas (3:17), 6. En Marruecos (4:01), 7. Al Borde del Abismo (4:03), 8. Candelaria “La Matutera” (1:46), 9. Trapicheos y Contrabando (2:57), 10. L’atelier (1:48), 11. Entre Costuras (1:38), 12. La Distinguida y Elegante Rosalinda Fox (2:49), 13. El Falso Delphos (1:22), 14. La Sombra del Tercer Reich (2:32), 15. Amor Entre Guerras (1:54), 16. Tensión en el Protectorado Español (2:39), 17. Agente Agoriuq (1:29), 18. Conspiración Británica (2:06), 19. Nas Ruas de Lisboa (2:49), 20. Misión: Escapar (5:34), 21. Modista, Espía, Amanta y Mujer (2:10), 22. La Muerte en Cada Esquina (2:02), 23. Los Ecos de la Guerra (2:38), 24. Lección de Vida (4:01), 25. Final Abierto (Tema de Sira) (2:14). Moviescore Media/Kronos MMS13023; Running Time: 69:54.


grandpianoGRAND PIANO – Víctor Reyes
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Grand Piano is an ingenious thriller directed by Eugenio Mira, starring Elijah Wood as Tom Selznick, a brilliant but reclusive concert pianist whose career was shattered by terrible stage fright. After finally agreeing to return to the concert hall for the first time in years, Selznick begins to play a brand new piano concerto, but discovers a terrifying note on the sheet music: there is a sniper with his gun trained on him, and if he stops playing, or if he plays a wrong note, he will be killed. The film, which also stars John Cusack, has an astonishing original score by composer Víctor Reyes, who wrote a brand new piano concerto for the film, which pulls double duty both as the piece performed on-screen, AND acts as the film’s score – the ultimate diegetic cinematic experience.

The technical achievement that Reyes accomplishes here is nothing short of astonishing. Firstly, the piece is a fully functioning piano concerto which would not be out of place if heard in one of the premier concert halls of the world. Bold, passionate, lyrical, dramatic, and magnificently orchestrated, it is split into three movements of 12, 11 and 4 minutes respectively. Reyes structures his work like a classical concerto should be structured, and is performed with all the gusto and vitality one would expect from one of the world’s great ensembles. Although the piano is clearly the cornerstone of the score, Reyes allows his orchestra to swoop and dance around the central instrument, with several sparkling solos for violins and cellos taking center stage.

The “First Movement” begins passionately, building from its initial piano solo into a vigorous, vibrant suite for the full orchestra, before dialing down a notch towards its finale. The “Second Movement” contains a little more solo piano performance than the first, and a touch more classical elegance too, with more elaborate scales and runs. The pace really picks up around the three minute mark, with frantic fingering and hefty brass countermelodies, and becomes downright dissonant around 6:30, before reaching quite astonishing heights of action, drama and chaos towards its finale. The ”Third Movement” begins pensively, with con legno hits and hesitant flourishes shimmering around the piano performance, but concludes with a sense of relief and catharsis.

However, not only is the score a fully functioning classical work in its own right, but as it progresses the music actually matches the dynamic and dramatic arc of the film; it becomes more tense, more introspective, more angry, more dangerous, as the film dictates, meaning that Reyes and lead actor Elijah Wood had to match the mood of the film exactly as the concerto is played-on screen – no mean feat.

The concerto is bookended by two further cues: the “Main Title” is clearly an homage to Ennio Morricone, with staccato low-end prepared piano chords and grinding basses straight out of The Untouchables, although the orchestration is much more contemporary, with a subtle synth effect and even ghostly voices lending a moody air to the mix, while “La Cinquette” is an staggeringly difficult encore for solo piano touted in the film’s screenplay as being ‘unplayable’ – but, it clearly is, as this performance attests! However, as good as these two pieces are, the real meat of the score is in the concerto itself.

Unfortunately, the score for Grand Piano is not available for purchase at this time, although Reyes did make a promotional CD available for consideration by various awards bodies. I hope that some enterprising record label sees fit to rectify this soon and release this masterful work to the public. It’s too good to be overlooked.

Track Listing: 1. Grand Piano Main Titles (2:41), 2. Grand Piano Concerto – 1st Movement (11:44), 3. Grand Piano Concerto – 2nd Movement (10:51), 4. Grand Piano Concerto – 3rd Movement (3:38), 5. La Cinquette (3:28). Promo; Running Time: 32:26.


isabelISABEL – Federico Jusid
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Isabel is an epic Spanish-language TV series broadcast on the Televisión Española network about the life of Queen Isabella I of Castille. One of the most beloved and revered figures of Spanish history, in the 1450s she was instrumental in unifying various warring kingdoms under one crown – essentially creating the modern country of Spain – and funded the voyages of Christopher Columbus, leading to the discovery of the New World and the foundation of America. The show, which has just completed its second season, stars Michelle Jenner as Isabel, co-stars Ramon Madaula, Rodolfo Sancho and Ainhoa Santamaria, and boasts an astonishing score by the young Argentine composer Federico Jusid.

Performed impeccably by the Sinfonia Orchestra of Budapest-Eastconnection and the Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro de Radiotelevisión Española, Jusid’s music is, quite simply, some of the best music I have ever heard for a TV show. After the rousing action-inflected opening, “A Todo Galope”, which contains rhythmic string writing and chanting Latin chorus, the first performance of the score’s main theme – “Isabel” – is heard, and it’s a beauty. A soft, romantic, noble melody is passed around the orchestra, from strings, to brass, and back again, before it explodes into an enormous, spine-tingling rendition for the full orchestra, ushered in by rolling timpanis and cymbal crashes. This is the kind of film music I live for – unashamed, unadulterated romance and passion. A softer performance, with a mixed voice choir singing ‘regina’ in Latin, ends the cue, one of the best individual pieces of score I have heard anywhere in several years. Restatements of the theme reoccur in cues such as the epic “Nobles Promesas” (complete with tolling bells!) the more restrained “Lex Talionis”, in which the theme is transferred to sonorous cellos accompanied by a chanting choir, and in the reverential and stately “La Coronación”, but Isabel is far from a monothematic score.

As the score progresses, Jusid’s music firmly stays its course. There are clear and frequent ecclesiastical overtones to his writing, to represent Isabel’s piousness and devotion to her faith, and these ideals are clearly defined by the near-omnipresent Latin choir. Cues of note include “El Adiós”, which contains a gorgeous mezzo-soprano solo; “Requiem” and “Kyrie”, both of which showcase the cut-glass tones of a boy soprano; as well as the appropriately operatic “Aria”. There are also several acknowledgements of the musical conventions of the time period in which Isabel lived, most notably the medieval-sounding dance music of “Baile de Máscaras”.

The various lovers Isabel takes over the course of her life are scored by moments of sweeping romance. Cues such as the heavenly “Amor Real”, and the invitingly seductive “Romance en la Alhambra”, are simply gorgeous, with sweetly searching string themes and elegant orchestrations. The solo string writing in both “El Destino de Isabel” and “La Soledad de un Rey” is heartbreakingly beautiful. “Los Planes de Colón” opens with a soft duet for expressive woodwinds and harp glissandi to represent the relationship between Isabel and the dashing explorer Christopher Columbus, gradually becoming more idealistic and wondrous as it develops.

However, the multitudinous political machinations that occur around her, as friends and allies alike position themselves and attempt to steal her throne, are scored with a palpable sense of drama and power. “La Reconquista”, for example, is a thunderous action sequence of great portent, with powerful brass calls, tumultuous percussion rolls, and a dark restatement of the main theme.  Later, “Te Deum” is tragedy-laden and funereal, with a low-voiced male voice choir intoning gloomily over a sustained cello pedal, while the ominous “El Santo Oficio” gives the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition an appropriately overwhelming and apocalyptic choral accompaniment fully suited to one of the most heinous aspects of Isabel’s reign. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. The subsequent “Rito Pagano” is one of the most flamboyant pieces of the score, as Jusid channels his inner Stravinsky for a cue which reverberates to more Latin chanting, animalistic rhythms, and wild, ostentatious orchestrations.

I could go on and on about this score, waxing lyrical about how good every cue is, but I think you get my point. This commercial release of 77 minutes of score contains a mix of music from both the first and second seasons – roughly 16 minutes from Season 1, the rest from Season 2 – and comes with the highest possible recommendation from me. On the strength of this score alone, it is clear that Federico Jusid is one of the most exciting young film composers working anywhere in the world today.

Track Listing: 1. A Todo Galope (2:56), 2. Isabel (3:47), 3. Sangre (2:19), 4. Amor Real (2:34), 5. La Reconquista (2:03), 6. Desencuentros (1:47), 7. Romance en la Alhambra (3:13), 8. El Adiós (5:39), 9. Princesa de Portugal (2:24), 10. Nobles Promesas (2:56), 11. El Destino de Isabel (1:59), 12. Baile de Máscaras (1:50), 13. Lex Talionis (3:10), 14. Requiem (2:29), 15. Los Planes de Colón (4:15), 16. Éxodo (2:25), 17. Aria (2:58), 18. La Coronación (2:30), 19. Te Deum (3:52), 20. Salve Regina (2:45), 21. El Santo Oficio (1:55), 22. Rito Pagano (3:07), 23. Don Beltrán (2:51), 24. Yo, La Reina (1:30), 25. La Soledad de un Rey (2:26), 26. Kyrie (1:21), 27. Lamento (3:11), 28. Vientos Castellanos (3:14). Música Global Discogràfica; Running Time: 77:33.


lamulaLA MULA – Óscar Navarro
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

La Mula is a drama based on the novel by Juan Eslava Galán, written and directed by Michael Radford, which tells the story of a soldier named Castro (Mario Casas) who finds a mule on the battlefields and travels through the country with it, observing the effects and aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. The film, which was disowned by its director during post-production, was actually completed in 2010, but sat on a shelf for almost four years, until all its legal and distribution issues were resolved. Thankfully, for score fans, the film was released in 2013, which gave us the chance to hear its wonderful music, written by young Spanish composer Óscar Navarro – this is his debut feature score, and it’s a gem.

The opening cue, “Love Story”, tells you exactly what you need to know about the score from its first moments: lush, sweeping, lyrical, theme-filled, dramatically powerful, fully orchestral, this is a wondrous introduction to the work of the young composer, and despite this astonishing opening, Navarro never really allows things to drop in terms of quality. Considering that, prior to this film, Navarro’s only film scoring experience was on sort films, the level of compositional excellence on display here is astonishing.

Unusually, quite a lot of the middle section of the score is quite light, even comedic in tone, capturing the essence of the unusual relationship between a boy and his ass. Traditional Spanish instruments – castanets, trumpets, flamenco handclap rhythms – appear in cues such as “The Turntable”, the action-styled “I Am Not a Slave to Anyone” the light and flighty “The Earrings”, and the flamboyant “Valentina´s Escape“, while the cheerful pair “Long Live Castro!” and “Discovered” feature whimsical little marches and clip-clop hoofbeat percussion that Elmer Bernstein would have been proud to call his own.

However, it is the more straightforward emotional pieces that Navarro impress the most. “Castro and Conchi” is a more bittersweet, introspective theme, containing a lovely trio for classical guitar, clarinet and a haunting solo violin. A gorgeous solo violin performance anchors “Friendship”, a lovely recapitulation of the clarinet theme appears in “The Bishop” alongside more ecclesiastical orchestrations such as organs and church bells, tender pianos feature in the soft and warm “Future Plans”, and a searching violin solo makes “Death of the Ensign” an emotional moment of longing and loss. The 9-minute conclusive piece, “Grand Finale”, sees Navarro returning fully to the beautiful orchestral textures of the opening cue, finishing the score on an absolute high, especially when a region-specific wordless vocal enters the mix.

The score for La Mula is available on the MovieScore Media label, and I absolutely recommend you check it out. Some of the cues in the middle of the album do lose a little of their emotional intensity, and the happy-go-lucky feel of them stands at odds with the score’s more conventionally beautiful bookends, but despite this, Óscar Navarro’s talent shines through. He’s yet another Spaniard to add to the ever-increasing of outstanding young composers to emerge from that region in the past five years or so.

Track Listing: 1. Love Story (2:48), 2. Castro and Conchi (2:31), 3. The Turntable (2:00), 4. Friendship (1:53), 5. I Am Not a Slave to Anyone (1:01), 6. The Earrings (1:45), 7. Field Day (2:14), 8. The Bishop (2:21), 9. The Letter (1:38), 10. The Bombardment (0:31), 11. The Press (1:03), 12. Valentina´s Escape (2:34), 13. Long Live Castro! (1:58), 14. Reviewing the Letter (1:31), 15. Discovered (1:13), 16. A Young Gentleman’s Gift (0:47), 17. Future Plans (3:29), 18. The War Is Over (1:19), 19. I´ll Miss You (0:53), 20. The Outcome (2:01), 21 .Mule Count (2:00), 22. Death of the Ensign (1:22), 23. Grand Finale (8:56), 24. Trenches (Bonus Track) (3:36). MovieScore Media MMS-13013; Running Time: 52:18.


lasbrujasdezugarramurdiLAS BRUJAS DE ZUGARRAMURDI – Joan Valent
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi – known in English as “Witching and Bitching” – is a bawdy horror-comedy directed by Álex de la Iglesia about two bumbling bank robbers (Mario Casas and Hugo Silva) who, after their latest botched crime, find themselves fleeing from both the police and their respective wives in the woods near the town of Zugarramurdi in northern Spain. However, unknown to the robbers, Zugarramurdi was the setting of the infamous Basque witch trials in the seventeenth century, and the sexy but cannibalistic descendents of those original witches still reside in the nearby “cuevas de las brujas”, hungry for human flesh…

The score for Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is by composer Joan Valent, and it functions in much the same way as Debbie Wiseman’s score for the similarly-themed Lesbian Vampire Killers movie did a few years ago: it accentuates the comedy by being deadly serious. The opening cue, “Titulos”, is dark and dramatic, with an urgent rhythmic core for brass and strings, subtle cooing vocals, rollercoaster woodwinds, and a mysterious main theme underpinned by snare drum percussion and light glockenspiel hits to make sure the comedy element is not entirely ignored.

The seven unnamed score cues are generally of the major-key horror variety, with strong reliance on brass and percussion, string sustains, moments of tension and dissonance, and occasional orchestral explosions to keep the listener firmly on the edge of his or her seat. A mischievous performance of the main theme accompanied my pizzicato strings is a highlight of the 12-minute “Tema 1”, which goes on to include a rampaging action sequence accentuated by Latin chanting, staccato pianos and, later, an unexpectedly cool sequence for mixed percussion, with timpanis, snare drums, high hats, and various tapped metallic effects playing off each other.

More pizzicato effects, echoing off low-end brass clusters, make “Tema 2” a suspenseful delight, while “Tema 3” introduces a see-sawing four-note motif for brass, and a glassy music-box theme, both of which weaves their way through much of the rest of the score. “Tema 4” seems to be more seductive, more emotional than the others, with high strings playing up the supernatural and slightly erotic aspects of the story and the sexy but deadly witches at the center of it, while the rampaging “Tema 5” is a fast-paced chase sequence which sees multiple sections of the orchestra fading in and out over the top of a relentless, forward-thrusting percussive core. Everything comes to a head in the finale, “Tema 7”, which works through some intense moments of action and horror, all tumbling brass chords and frantic string writing – as well as a couple of variations on the main theme and the music box theme – before the chorally rich “Creditos” bring the score to a close with a gothic, ghostly sweep.

Unfortunately, the score for Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is not available for purchase at this time, although Valent did make a promotional CD available for consideration by various awards bodies (successfully, as it turns out, as he was nominated for a Goya Award – the Spanish Oscars – for his work here). I hope one of the European specialty labels – MovieScore Media or Quartet – is able to secure the right to this soon, as I’m sure it would be a popular addition to many collections.

Track Listing: 1. Titulos (2:24), 2. Tema 1 (12:13), 3. Tema 2 (3:45), 4. Tema 3 (3:54), 5. Tema 4 (4:16), 6. Tema 5 (2:43), 7. Tema 6 (1:29), 8. Tema 7 (6:25), 9. Creditos (2:47). Promo; Running Time: 39:56.


lastdaysTHE LAST DAYS – Fernando Velázquez
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Last Days – “Los Últimos Días” – is a Spanish science fiction-horror-thriller written and directed by David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, which looks at the aftermath of a peculiar epidemic which spreads across the globe, leaving its sufferers to have an irrational fear of open spaces that causes instant death. With the majority of the world population now trapped inside buildings, one young man from Barcelona, Marc (Quim Gutiérrez), tries to find his missing girlfriend, Julia (Marta Etura), without ever going outside – but uncovers something terrifying about the epidemic in the process.

The score for The Last Days is by Fernando Velázquez, who made in-roads into the Hollywood studio system in 2012 and 2013 with his well-received scores for The Impossible and Mama, but who still contributes music regularly to the Spanish film industry.  As befits the story, quite a bit of the score deals with tragedy and loss; the opening theme, “Julia”, is a piece full of those emotions, as the lead character pines for his missing girlfriend with a gentle piano melody and swooning strings – but things quickly turn horrific and dissonant. This juxtaposition of the romantic and the tense is one of the score’s defining ideas. Cues such as “Your Turn”, “It’s a GPS, Isn’t It?” the brooding “Entering the Subway System”, the tense chorally-enhanced “This Is How It Ends”, and “You Think This Is It?” embrace the darkness inherent in the story, often interpolating contemporary synth percussion rhythmic ideas to drive things forward.

Moments of pure action are rare, but effective when they do appear, with cues such as ‘Run”, “The First To Go”, “Open the Door!” and the epic “Assault on the Supermarket” throbbing to enormous drum layers and surging orchestral runs, while a grating, growling vocal effect – something like a processed throat singer – add a feral, animalistic quality to cues like “What If I Miss?”,  “If She’s Still Alive” and “The Hunt”. Thankfully, these moments of intensity are counterbalanced by regular performances of Julia’s piano theme, reminding the listener of the reason for the story. “This Is Where You Leave Me”, the beautiful first half of “There’s Something Going On”, and the soaring, religioso finale in “Agoraphobia” and “Tomorrow-Morrow” remind us of Velázquez’s theme-writing prowess.

For anyone whose only previous exposure to Fernando Velázquez’s music has been through his more lush, emotional works, the tension and creative dissonance in The Last Days may come as something of a surprise. However, I personally think that it is a hallmark of a great composer that he can switch genres and writing styles so quickly, and without a drop in quality.

Track Listing: 1. Julia (1:02), 2. Your Turn (1:08), 3. It’s a GPS, Isn’t It? (0:32), 4. We’re There! (1:30), 5. Entering the Subway System (1:53), 6. Run! (2:46), 7. This Is Where You Leave Me (0:39), 8. What’s My Name? (2:18), 9. The First To Go (2:17), 10. There’s Something Going On (2:43), 11. What If I Miss? (2:32), 12. Open the Door! (4:57), 13. Breeding Like Idiots (1:32), 14. This Is How It Ends (3:12), 15. Even the Rain (1:47), 16. If She’s Still Alive (0:35), 17. Let’s Build a Fire (1:01), 18. The Hunt (2:18), 19. You Think This Is It? (8:25), 20. On Hostile Ground (3:14), 21. Assault on the Supermarket (14:27), 22. Stepping Outside (1:27), 23. Agoraphobia (2:15), 24. Tomorrow-Morrow (3:37). Quartet Records SM-025; Running Time: 65:48.


zip&zapZIP & ZAP AND THE MARBLE GANG – Fernando Velázquez
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang – known in its original Spanish as “Zipi y Zape y el Club de la Canica” – is an action-comedy-adventure for children, directed by Oskar Santos, and based on the comic book adventures of the titular characters. Zipi and Zape are two ten year old twins, mischievous but lovable, who are sent to summer camp by their parents after they are caught stealing. Once there, the devilish duo quickly form a gang with the other kids and misfits at the camp, in defiance of the eye patch-wearing camp counselor, and embark on a series of thrilling adventures involving a hunt for missing treasure.

Fernando Velázquez composed the score for Zip & Zap in the style of classic adventure score, and it’s lots of fun. While Velázquez is best known for his searching, emotional theme-writing, scores like this allows us to experience a more playful, adventurous side to his musical personality, and it’s great to see. The bold and boisterous main theme “Zipi y Zape”, is lots of fun, with a classic Wild West vibe, and reoccurs in several upbeat variations throughout the score. Magical textures for flute and chimes and playful pianos add a touch of sentimentality and child-like innocence to the story in cues such as “Prólogo y Llegada al Esperanza” and “La Vida en el Esperanza“, which have the sort of lush orchestral sweep and sense of playful naughtiness that established composers like Alan Silvestri, David Newman or Bruce Broughton would bring to a film of this type – think Mouse Hunt, or Baby’s Day Out.

There’s some caper-like sneaking around music that has the unmistakable touch of John Williams – “Aventura Nocturna” for example – a pompously sinister little march for the evil overseer of Camp Esperanza, and several wonderful set-pieces which allow the orchestra room to breathe, expand, and express themselves: “El Club de la Canica”, “La Resistencia”, and the frenetic “El Juego de Esperanza” are especially enjoyable in this regard. There’s an oboe melody towards the end of “Diamantes” which simply makes you melt, and even some moments enhanced by a chorus, notably the lovely “La Casilla de Salida”, and the delightfully Elfmanesque “Jugar”, which builds a wonderful head of steam as it progresses. The whimsical theme in “Esperanza TOYS”, with is twinkling glockenspiel accompaniment, is a magical  reflection of childhood joy, and the enormous major-key explosion of choral beauty in the conclusive “El Mejor Verano de Nuestras Vidas” is one of those cues you can play over and over.

Children’s films, by their very nature, often give composers larger canvasses to express themselves on, as the emotions and senses are much more heightened through a child’s eyes. Every landscape is bigger, every adventure more exhilarating, and every monster more scary. Velázquez takes this opportunity and runs with it, making Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang a delight from start to finish. Fans of 1980s light adventures by Williams, Horner, Silvestri or Broughton will find themselves especially enchanted by Velázquez’s loving homages to his heroes.

Track Listing: 1. Zipi y Zape (1:35), 2. Prólogo y Llegada al Esperanza (2:55), 3. Micro (1:38), 4. La Verdadera Naturaleza de Este Lugar y Sus Reglas (2:06), 5. La Vida en el Esperanza (2:38), 6. El Club de la Canica (2:09), 7. La Resistencia (4:44), 8. El Hombre del Saco (2:25), 9. Aventura Nocturna (2:23), 10. El Monstruo (2:57), 11. Diamantes (2:36), 12. Una Historia de Piratas (3:17), 13. El Mapa (1:42), 14. Traición (2:39), 15. Reconciliación (1:55), 16. La Casilla de Salida (2:15), 17. El Juego de Esperanza (2:52), 18. Jugar (7:24), 19. Propulsión Atómica (3:01), 20. El Tesoro de Esperanza (5:46), 21. Esperanza TOYS (1:37), 22. El Mejor Verano de Nuestras Vidas (2:51), 23. Por Siempre (performed by Cali & El Dandee) (3:31). Quartet Records SM-028: Running Time: 67:14.

  1. Gashoe13
    February 9, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Outstanding! Thanks so much for doing this. More foreign scores to explore.

  2. VN
    February 10, 2014 at 12:39 am

    What a great great article. Thank you Jonathan. These scores are exactly the great ones that truly stood out this year among the films (and series) released in Spain. Many of them didn’t have a great record at the awards race.

    The Feroz Awards (Spanish Golden Globes) at their very first edition gave the top award to Víctor Reyes for Grand Piano. Las brujas de Zugarramurdi was also nominated but La mula Zipi & Zape and The last days were missing. The preferred Alberto Iglesias for his dull score in I’m so excited or John Rose for The Big Spanish Family. What a mess…

    The Goya Awards (Spanish Academy Awards) were even worse. They snubbed Grand Piano, La mula Zipi & Zape and The last days. Last night they awarded a jazzy comedy score.

    It seems wherever you are Academies nor critics don’t listen to the scores.

  3. Mark
    February 10, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Thank you! Is Isabel available on CD format anywhere?

  4. Scott Weber
    February 1, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this…I’ve just added so many scores to my wish-list of future purchases…and I doubt I’d ever have known about them if not for this site…keep up the good work!

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    will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome jo.

  1. February 9, 2014 at 4:45 am

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