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Best Scores of 2016 – Western Europe

December 30, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

The second installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Western Europe – in this instance, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands (Spain & Portugal, and the UK will get their own pages later!). The film music covered in this installment includes several outstanding dramatic works, animated films, fantasy action adventures, and more!

CÉZANNE ET MOI – Éric Neveux

cezanneetmoiCézanne et Moi is a French drama film directed by Danièle Thompson which examines the strong life-long friendship between painter Paul Cézanne and writer Émile Zola in 19th-century France, focusing specifically on how their relationship was a positive influence on both their work. The film stars Guillaume Gallienne as Cézanne and Guillaume Canet as Zola, and has a lovely score by composer Éric Neveux, who has been a mainstay in French cinema and television for many years now.

His score for Cézanne et Moi is light, delicate, pastoral, and very pretty. In the opening “Ouverture” he presents his main theme, which introduces the score’s central idea, a six note theme which jumps back and forth from piano (representing Cézanne) and guitars (representing Zola), while the rest of the orchestra moves fluidly around them. The idea of playing the same main melody on different instruments to represent the two men is a clever one: their lives are intertwined, and their friendship is so strong, that one theme follows them both, but the instrumental variations give it a distinctiveness to represent their individual personalities, and the way they present their own art.

The theme recurs frequently throughout; occasionally a different instrument takes over the melodic line (an elegant flute in “Souvenirs d’Enfance,” for example), but Cézanne and Zola’s primary instrumental leads dominate much of the score. The sunny, cheerful “Ballade des Deux Amis,” which gently blends the two themes together, is a perfect reflection of their easy friendship, their days spent strolling through the Bois de Boulogne, waiting for artistic inspiration to strike. Conversely, the conclusive “Paul s’en Va” re-states their theme with a bittersweet beauty, and a hint of tragedy, with especially affecting piano and cello writing, and a lilting flute accompaniment, before climaxing with a swell of emotion.

Other cues of note include the bright, lively string-led scherzo representing the life and energy of the French capital in “Paris Sous la Pluie,” the pretty and intimate guitar and string romance theme in “Emile et Gabrielle,” the gorgeous and deeply expressive string and piano duet in “La Lettre d’Emile,” the emotional cello writing in “La Souffrance de Paul,” and the vivaciously energetic “Retrouvailles.”

I’ve heard several scores by Éric Neveux over the years, and am especially fond of his work on things like the TV series Un Village Français, Hideaways from 2011, and Flight of the Storks from 2013, but Cézanne et Moi is by far my favorite thing he has written to date. The effortless elegance of the thematic writing, the beautiful interplay between the instruments, and the way Neveux captures the emotional core of the two men’s bonds of fraternal camaraderie through music, is very impressive.

Track Listing: 1. Cézanne et Moi (Ouverture) (2:34), 2. Souvenirs d’Enfance (1:31), 3. Paris Sous la Pluie (1:18), 4. Emile et Gabrielle (2:40), 5. La Lettre d’Emile (4:04), 6. Ballade des Deux Amis (3:44), 7. La Souffrance de Paul (4:56), 8. Retrouvailles (2:18), 9. La Fin d’Une Amitié (1:31), 10. Paul s’en Va (6:26), 11. Cézanne et Moi (Générique de Fin) (1:41). Quartet Records QR-246, 32 minutes 49 seconds.

 

DARK WAVES [BELLEROFONTE] – Alexander Cimini

darkwavesDark Waves is an Italian fantasy-horror film directed by Domiziano Cristopharo, starring Nancy de Lucia, Antonella Salvucci, Arian Levanael, and Gabriele Guerra, in which two young lovers stumble across a cache of rare gold, but soon find themselves fighting for their lives from a horde of vengeful zombie pirates that emerge from the depths of the ocean. It sounds like a low budget giallo variation on Pirates of the Caribbean, but the title of the film actually refers to a hero from Greek mythology, a ‘slayer of monsters’ whose greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Not only that, the film itself looks to be quite visually beautiful, thanks to director Cristopharo’s artistic eye.

The score for Dark Waves is by the Italian-German composer Alexander Cimini, who impressed me greatly with his breakthrough score for Cristopharo’s experimental art horror film Red Krokodil in 2012. Cimini is yet to score a film with international box office appeal, but despite this his music is of a ridiculously high quality. As was the case with Red Krokodil, Dark Waves over-achieves enormously with its soaring emotional orchestral writing, thematic power, and rich textures.

The score is anchored by four distinct instrumental ideas: a wordless female vocal performed by soprano Monica Boschetti, solo violin by Roberto Noferini, solo cello by Sebastiano Severi, and Cimini himself on piano. These four instruments weave and swirl and dance around each other, supported by the full orchestra, creating a mood of ghostly mystery, but also beautiful, if a little creepy, romance. It’s all quite wonderful; the “Bellerofonte Main Theme” sounds like something Ennio Morricone might have written for a film like this – Boschetti comes across as an Edda dell’Orso surrogate – while subsequent cues like “The Town,” the ravishing “The Tower,” and “Fragments of Memories,” present an atmosphere of thickly oppressive emotion and overwhelming beauty. The “Love Scene” has more than a hint of Wojciech Kilar’s darkly passionate score for The Ninth Gate, while Cimini’s rhapsodic piano performance in the middle of the otherwise spooky “Hidden Mysteries” has all the panache of a classical concerto.

Despite it being nominally a horror film, Cimini doesn’t really emphasize the more supernatural elements with traditionally scary or unsettling music, instead being content to occasionally add some slightly less consonant textures that give the thematic core of cues like “The Fog” a sinister edge. The score’s only action cue is “The Secret Revealed,” in which Cimini increases the score’s brass quotient, increases the tempo significantly, and allows Noferini’s violin to reach new heights of virtuosity.

The masterpiece cues, however, are the two 8-minute suites, “Follow Me” and “Bellerofonte Concert Suite,” which take the main ideas of the score and build on them in a fashion that somehow manages to make them more grandiose and overwhelmingly powerful than they already were. These cues are a celebration of elegant flute patterns, soaring vocal textures, and masterpiece violin and cello solos which rise to glorious orchestral crescendos. This is utterly astonishing stuff which Cimini would never be allowed to write for a Hollywood movie; as I’ve said, time and time again, anyone looking for that rich thematic and symphonic sound needs to look beyond the confines of the mainstream and musically journey to places like Italy, where composers like Alexander Cimini are keeping the flames of truly great film music alive.

Track Listing: 1. Bellerofonte Main Theme (2:05), 2. The Town (1:56), 3. The Arrival (2:05), 4. The Tower (3:25), 5. Wine Like Blood (1:10), 6. Love Scene (2:33), 7. Hidden Mysteries (3:31), 8. The Fog (3:17), 9. Fragments of Memories (5:09), 10. Dressing (1:29), 11. Follow Me (Film Version) (3:11), 12. The Secrets Revealed (5:01), 13. Farewell (1:26), 14..Memories Lost in the Sea (End Credits) (3:40), 15. Follow Me (Soundtrack Version) (8:26), 16. Bellerofonte Concert Suite (8:55), 17. Love Song (Opening Title Theme) (written by Marco Werba) (1:52). Kronos Records KRONCD-073, 58 minutes 36 seconds.

 

EMERALD GREEN [SMARAGDGRÜN] – Philipp F. Kölmel

smaragdgrunEmerald Green is the third and final installment in the series of German fantasy films based on author Kerstin Gier’s Gemstone books, after Ruby Red [Rubinrot] in 2013 and Sapphire Blue [Saphirblau] in 2014. The film, which is directed by Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schöde, continues the adventures of a young girl, Gwendolyn Shepherd, in the aftermath of her discovery that she and all the other members of her family can travel through time. Returning to score the film, as he did the previous two installments, is German composer Philipp F. Kölmel, whose score for Rubinrot impressed me enormously, and similarly impressed enough of my peers that he earned an IFMCA Award nomination for Best Original Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror score.

Smaragdgrün is very much of a similar standard to its predecessors; Kölmel combines large scale fully-orchestral fantasy-adventure scoring with some more contemporary tracks of upbeat dance music electronica, guitar-led rock, and even old fashioned jazz. It makes for a peculiar mix on CD, and the modern cues like “81 Bourdon Place” and “Light Matter Girl” stick out like a sore thumb, but taken on their own terms these cues are well-conceived and at least remind listeners that the protagonists of Smaragdgrün are teenagers with their own contemporary musical identity.

However, it is in the large-scale orchestral moments that Kölmel’s score impresses the most. Cues such as the opening “Back to Square One,” “Trip Down Memory Lane,” “Practice Makes Perfect,” and “Protective Shield” swell with sometimes Howard Shore-esque Gothic grandeur, the rich and lively orchestra combining with a choir that chants, sings, and ululates majestically to give the score a real sense of epic scope. Kölmel’s orchestrations are especially worthy of praise; he uses all parts of the ensemble to their fullest potential, often highlighting different specific sections of the orchestra and allowing them to perform. The solo violin in “Practice Makes Perfect,” and the whooping brasses in “Quantum Leap,” are both especially noteworthy.

There are moments of superb action flair too, with cues such as “Metamorphosis,” “Ride for Fall,” “Krav Maga,” and the thunderous “Guy Fawkes Night” sounding especially impressive. The action rhythms Kölmel employs drive the pieces forward with purpose and intensity, while the occasional use of electronic beats and percussion items allow the music to develop a modernity that keeps it fresh and immediate, but don’t detract from the orchestral showmanship on display.

The score is available as an import CD from German retail stores, as well as from online services such as Amazon Deutschland, iTunes, and Spotify; as well as Kölmel’s score the album includes several pop cuts, including a cover of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Britney Spears which is actually not as bad as it sounds.

Track Listing: 1. Back to Square One (1:57), 2. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (performed by Britney Spears) (3:06), 3. Amazing Grace (performed by Celtic Woman) (4:56), 4. Turn the Party Up (performed by Miss Amani) (3:38), 5. Recognise Me (performed by Sofi de la Torre) (3:50), 6. Shoulda Known (performed by Cut One) (2:41), 7. 81 Bourdon Place (3:13), 8. Trip Down Memory Lane (2:09), 9. Metamorphosis (2:31), 10. United (2:38), 11. Practice Makes Perfect (1:27), 12. Ride for a Fall (2:13), 13. Quantum Leap (2:35), 14. Deception (2:27), 15. Enigma (4:17), 16. Protective Shield (1:27), 17. Krav Maga (1:53), 18. Guy Fawkes Night (5:28), 19. Cycle of Blood (3:51), 20. The Show Is Over (4:28), 21. Light Matter Girl (2:34). Sony Classical, 45 minutes 17 seconds.

 

IN MY FATHER’S GARDEN [KNIELEN OP EEN BED VIOLEN] – Dirk Brossé

knielenopeenbedviolenIn My Father’s Garden is a Dutch drama film directed by Ben Sombogaart, adapted from the acclaimed novel by Jan Siebelink. It tells the story of the relationship between Hans (Barry Atsma) and Margje (Noortje Herlaar), high school sweethearts who marry and start a life together in the Dutch countryside following the conclusion of World War II. Hans grew up in a strict religious environment with a brutal father, but abandoned the more authoritarian tenets of his faith to live a more secular life with Margje. However, following a chance meeting with a stranger at the garden nursery he owns, Hans begins to embrace his old religion once more, and soon his newly-rekindled faith begins to open rifts between different members of his family.

The score for In My Father’s Garden is by the Belgian classical composer Dirk Brossé, who has been writing film scores in Europe for years, but who many will know through his work as a guest conductor at film score concerts across the world, and for his stint as the conductor of the Star Wars: A Musical Journey concerts which began in 2009. It’s a dark, oppressive orchestral score which blends moments of great beauty with moments of brooding melancholy, appropriately capturing the personality of the man at the center of the story, torn between his faith and his family.

A lot of Brossé’s score is built around tragedy-laden string writing; in the “Opening Credits” he pits layers of strings against low, thudding piano chords, creating a mood of harsh seriousness. This style is prevalent through much of the score; Brossé’s music often places different parts of the string section against each other, creating shifting tones and layers of sound that convey the morose mood. Pianos and harps punctuate the sound to give it some depth, but the overall feeling is one of thoughtful despondency. Cues like “Omschrijft U Zichzelve,” “Wat Heb Ik Verkeerd Gedaan?,” “Margje is Terug,” and “Die Bijbel Is Mijn Vader” are full of emotion, but it might not be one which listeners find themselves warming to. This is not a happy score, but Brossé succeeds in conveying the intent of the film perfectly.

Some cues do have a lighter, more romantic air. The piano melodies and string harmonies in cues like “Hans Sievez,” the all-too-brief “Het Gele Boekje,” “Koude Winter,” and “Hij Zal Déze Nooit Vergeten “are lovely, and have a touch of Christopher Young’s 1990s thriller scores to them – Copycat, or Jennifer 8, perhaps. Elsewhere, “Ik Ben Het, Uw Zoon” raises the volume with a bigger-sounding ensemble and a faster pace, rising to a powerful crescendo, while in “Wanneer Mag Ik Meedoen, Hans?” Brossé allows his string writing o have the merest touch of warmth, however fleeting.

In the final two cues, “Papa Is Weer Van Ons” and the “End Credits,” Brosse finally rids himself of his self-imposed musical shackles and lets his music soar, and these eight minutes are the most impressive on the album. Brossé rounds out his album with a sextet of beautiful piano nocturnes based on his score’s main themes, and offer a peaceful, classical conclusion to the experience. In My Father’s Garden is available as an digital download exclusive on the Riva Media records, and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys serious, profound drama scores that occasionally rise to superb, emotional heights.

Track Listing: 1. Opening Credits Knielen (2:55), 2. Hans Sievez (1:53), 3. De Rekening (1:02), 4. Het Gele Boekje (0:45), 5. Omschrijft U Zichzelve (3:21), 6. Wat Heb Ik Verkeerd Gedaan? (1:34), 7. Koude Winter (0:49), 8. Is Het Een Straf? (1:19), 9. Ik Ben Het, Uw Zoon (1:43), 10. Wanneer Mag Ik Meedoen, Hans? (1:48), 11. De Thuisdienst (1:16), 12. Waarom Moet Alles Kapot? (1:55), 13. Margje, Waar Ga Je Heen? (0:49), 14. Mieras En Hans (1:42), 15. Margje Is Terug (1:40), 16. Hij Zal Déze Nooit Vergeten (0:57), 17. Het Onderzoek (1:35), 18. De Liefde Is Lankmoedig (0:57), 19. Die Bijbel Is Mijn Vader (2:29), 20. Zo Kun Je Toch Niet Dood Gaan (1:43), 21. Papa Is Weer Van Ons (4:40), 22. End Credits Knielen (4:04), 23. Knielen Nocturne 1 (1:47), 24. Knielen Nocturne 2 (2:10), 25. Knielen Nocturne 3 (1:22), 26. Knielen Nocturne 4 (1:24), 27. Knielen Nocturne 5 (1:19), 28. Knielen Nocturne 6 (1:12). Riva Media Records, 50 minutes 10 seconds.

 

THE ODYSSEY [L’ODYSSÉE] – Alexandre Desplat

lodysseeThe Odyssey is a French biographical drama film directed by Jérôme Salle, based on the non-fiction book ‘Capitaine de La Calypso’ by Albert Falco and Yves Paccalet. It tells the life story of the famous and influential deep sea oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, whose films about marine life inspired generations of animal lovers and conservationists. The film stars Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney, and Audrey Tautou, and has an original score by Alexandre Desplat, one of several films he scored in his native France in 2016 (the others being Les Habitants, Alone in Berlin, and Réparer Les Vivants).

The score is a Desplat work through and through, containing many of the highly personal compositional touches and instrumental combinations that have typified his career to date, and which have won him many admirers – myself included. The opening cue, “L’Odyssée,” is one of those beautifully expressive Desplat pieces where the instruments dance around each other in a feather-like celebration of musical interaction: pizzicato violins, swirling cellos, light chimes, soft warm brass, sparkling piano lines, whimsical woodwinds. It bears all the delicate hallmarks of the scores which first brought him to attention – The Girl With the Pearl Earring, among others – and is simply charming.

This stylistic approach continues through much of the score, not so much commenting on the specific events in Cousteau’s life, but instead providing a broad-brush overview of the sense of wonderment he brought to all his adventures beneath our oceans. Desplat enhances this core set of instrumental and thematic ideas with various unique textures. “Exploration” develops a sense of gravitas through the gradual introduction of a pipe organ into the instrumental complement; “Auteur du Globe” is warmly inspirational, rising to several beautiful cymbal-ring crescendos; “Deep Diving” is mysterious and slightly unnerving, using abstract percussion ideas and impressionistic orchestral textures to capture the unknown creatures Cousteau encounters on his expeditions – the hints of John Williams’s Jaws in the cue’s second half are a nice touch!

Elsewhere, “Massacre” and “Balais des Baleines” underpin the music with the almost subliminal electronic pulse that Desplat seems to like so much, allowing the cues – especially the second of the two – to project a sense of something approaching poignant melancholy. The combination writing, with the main melody continually switching between strings, oboes, and piano, is quite bewitching in the way it conveys the graceful movement of enormous whales, effortlessly gliding through the water despite their bulk.

The warm relationship between Jacques and his son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, is conveyed with a light touch in the lovely “Aventuriers Père et Fils,” while the subsequent “Antarctica” allows for the greatest development of the score’s main theme, a superb, balletic piece for expressive pianos and scintillating orchestral accompaniment. The conclusive piece, “Last Flight,” gives the piano even more emphasis, driving along the melody with a propulsive, insistent, important-sounding rhythmic core.

The Odyssey is a score which will appeal to all fans of Alexandre Desplat’s music; it contains so many of the compositional hallmarks that make his music so memorable, from the use of precise rhythmic devices to the fascinating interplay between all different sections of the orchestra, so full of movement and energy and stylistic panache. The album, on TFq Musique, contains just under 45 minutes of Desplat’s score, alongside several pop and rock songs, the pick of which for me is the influential flower-power anthem “California Dreamin’” performed by The Mamas & The Papas.

Track Listing: 1. L’Odyssée (4:39), 2. Exploration (2:50), 3. Autour du Globe (3:28), 4. L’Hydravion (2:51), 5. Respirer Sous l’Eau (1:58), 6. Deep Diving (3:54), 7. La Grotte (1:58), 8. Massacre (2:37), 9. Preservation (2:08), 10. Balais des Baleines (2:35), 11. Aventuriers Père et Fils (2:23), 12. Antarctica (5:15), 13. Terra Incognita (2:22), 14. Last Flight (4:54), 15. Don’t Knock It (performed by The Delta Rhythm Boys) (2:33), 16. Hard To Handle (performed by Otis Redding) (2:17), 17. That’s Life – Live At The Apollo Theater 1967 (performed by James Brown) (4:07), 18. No Sugar Tonight (performed by The Guess Who) (4:50), 19. California Dreamin’ (performed by The Mamas & The Papas) (2:37), 20. It’s OK (performed by Tom Rosenthal) (3:10). TF1 Musique TF1-5721017, 63 minutes 48 seconds.

 

THE RED TURTLE [LA TORTUE ROUGE] – Laurent Perez del Mar

redturtleThe Red Turtle is a French animated fantasy film from Oscar-winning filmmaker Michaël Dudok de Wit, who is making his full length feature debut as a director here. The film is a quiet, thoughtful film which plays entirely without dialogue, and tells the story of an unnamed man who becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island, meets a giant red turtle, and has a series of adventures which become more and more fantastical as time goes on. In many ways the film can be seen as a fable, a meditation on life, relationships, and the symbiotic connection between man and nature; it has been the recipient of almost unanimous critical praise, and is expected to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2016.

The score for The Red Turtle is by French composer Laurent Perez del Mar, who has been prolific in his native country’s film industry since the early 2000s, but has never really broken through to international prominence prior to this year. This is the first score of his I had heard, and it impressed me greatly. Considering that the film is entirely dialogue-free, Perez’s score carries the entire weight of emotion throughout the film; as such, it often speaks in bold, expressive ways, with beautiful instrumental combinations, and affecting thematic development. Some cues are electronically enhanced, like the mesmerizing and hypnotic opening piece “Love in the Sky,” the second half of “The Tsunami,” parts of “Despair,” “Baby’s Fall,” and others, but most of it is fully orchestral, and is often deeply profound.

Solo voices play an important role in the score; after their initial introduction in the gorgeous second half of the opening cue, they return regularly. Without giving too much of the plot away, the fact that The Red Turtle features human female voices is a nice conceptual touch by Perez, emphasizing his understanding of both the film’s obvious narrative themes, and its more cerebral subtext. The crystal clear soprano voices in later cues such as “She is Dead, “L’Au Revoir,” and the second half of “The Dream,” are simply heartbreaking.

Many other cues also capture the imagination. “Flying With the Turtles” and “The Red Turtle” are built around a playful and sweeping waltz-like theme, the latter often accompanied by an array of sunny rattling native percussion items. The mysterious and mystical “The Girl” features Morricone-like writing for violin, recorder and harp, while the subsequent “I Will Stay With You” also features the recorder and has a hint of exotic James Horner about it. The magnificent “The Tsunami” is a bold and confident action sequence, which sees frantic string writing and vivid brass runs punctuated by the female voices. “White Hair” and “Despair” are poignant and emotionally tragic, with especially affecting string writing. “The Baby” and “The Dream” use harps and pizzicato strings to convey the gentle sweetness of a lullaby. It’s all simply superb.

The score does trail off a little towards the end – the last two cues, “Anger” and “Second Raft,” are slightly droney and anti-climactic – but this one small issue aside, I really cannot recommend The Red Turtle enough. On the whole, European cinema approaches animation with more seriousness than Hollywood does, allowing it to embrace more thoughtful, profound, introspective topics without the need for comedy sidekicks or overwhelming amounts of cuteness. Similarly, the scores for these films can be as serious and powerful as any ‘regular’ dramatic score, and it is this type of score that Perez has written here. The score is available as an import from France on Quartet Records, and should be on everyone’s list as one of the finest scores of the year, from any genre.

Track Listing: 1. Love in the Sky (2:31), 2. Flying With the Turtles (2:24), 3. The Girl (2:30), 4. The Tsunami (3:47), 5. White Hair (2:57), 6. She is Dead (2:42), 7. The Baby (3:08), 8. Despair (1:43), 9. Baby’s Fall (2:07), 10. L’Au Revoir (4:15), 11. The First Raft (1:28), 12. The Red Turtle (2:45), 13. I Will Stay With You (3:01), 14. The Fall (1:34), 15. The Dream (2:35), 16. I’ve Found Dad (1:43), 17. Where Is She? (1:16), 18. He Has To Go (2:45), 19. Anger (1:17), 20. Second Raft (1:24). Quartet Records QR-236, 47 minutes 55 seconds.

 

LE TEMPS D’ANNA – Bartosz Chajdecki

letempsdannaLe Temps d’Anna is a Swiss-French TV movie directed by Greg Zglinski. The film is a historical romantic drama set in Switzerland in 1917 which tells the story of Jean (Mathieu Simonet), a young watchmaker, who falls head over heels in love with Anna (Gaëlle Bona), a mysterious young woman. Jean and Anna get married, and happily go through all life’s experiences together, supported by their family and friends. However, while Jean is preoccupied with trying to invent a new waterproof watch, Anna suddenly seems to suffer from a strange sickness which gets worse each day.

The score for Le Temps d’Anna is by the young Polish composer Bartosz Chajdecki, and is absolutely gorgeous from start to finish. A fully orchestral work, this is the most conventionally romantic and beautiful music we have heard from Chajdecki, and is very different from the intensity found in his TV score Czas Honoru, or his dramatic efforts like Baczyński and Powstanie Warszawskie. Instead, this score has more in common with the magnificent classical romantic writing heard in scores like Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, and Far from the Madding Crowd; there are echoes of Alexandre Desplat, Dario Marianelli, Patrick Doyle, and Craig Armstrong in the tender string and woodwind melodies, intimate piano writing, and delicate love themes which often open out into moments of swooning passion.

Florid, cascading rhythmic piano scales and swirling string figures dominate the “Main Titles,” and subsequent cues like “First Meeting,” “First Kiss,” and “Death of a Friend”. They are often augmented by tick-tock percussion which gives them a sense of restless, urgent energy, as well as subliminally recognizing Jean’s profession as a clock-maker. The passionate love theme, initially heard in “First Night,” captures the tempestuous and all-encompassing romantic relationship between Jean and Anna, and reaches sublime heights in supsequent cues like the gorgeous “Passion Against All Odds,” and “For Good and Bad.” The one moment of anguish comes in “Schizophrenia,” a tense and edgy track where the same instrumental ensemble plays a series of skittish phrases, all pizzicato effects and harsh piano clusters, to convey the devastating medical diagnosis of Anna’s condition.

However, the most affecting theme for me is the one Chajdecki calls the ‘Ascending’ theme, which has a sweeping, religioso quality that is quite stunning. Although cues like “Searching for Anna,” “Road to the Hospital,” and “Memories” feature the theme prominently, it is not until the “End Titles” that it emerges as the highlight of the score, a gorgeous combination of deep, longing string writing and rolling, tempestuous pianos that slowly rise to an emotional climax.

Unfortunately the score for Le Temps d’Anna is not available for commercial purchase at this time – just a promo provided by Chajdecki for promotional and award consideration – but should it ever appear on the market, I would unhesitatingly recommend it, especially for anyone who has ever been enraptured by any of the euphoric classical romance scores I mentioned earlier. It also re-affirms, as if any more confirmation were needed, that Bartosz Chajdecki is one of the most talented young composers working anywhere in Europe today, and that he needs to be discovered by the world at large.

Track Listing: 1. Main Titles (2:40), 2. First Night (2:01), 3. Remembrance (1:30), 4. First Meeting (1:52), 5. First Kiss (1:41), 6. Old Factory (0:49), 7. Passion Against All Odds (2:03), 8. Searching for Anna (2:03), 9. Tale Theme (0:52), 10. Clock Maker (1:33), 11. Schizophrenia (2:19), 12. For Good and Bad (1:33), 13. Death of a Friend (1:36), 14. Passing Time (1:54), 15. Telling the Truth (1:36), 16. Road to the Hospital (1:31), 17. Memories (1:46), 18. Farewell (2:39), 19. End Titles (3:57), 20. Departure (0:24). Promo, 36 minutes 19 seconds.

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