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Saturday, January 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - Gabriel Yared Film Music Vol.3 - Hanna K/Les Petites Guerres/Invitation Au Voyage
Cinefonia Records CFY-003 (France)
29 Tracks 64:40 mins

This third entry in the series is subtitled "Les Orientales," bringing together as it does three scores written between 1980 and 1983 which, as the composer says, were "profoundly influenced by my re-discovery of Arabic music." It seems to me however that the more recent score, 1983's Hanna K, directed by Costa-Gavras, is the most influenced of all, exhibiting much of the sadness Yared says he found in popular Arabic music during his early years in Lebanon. This score is the first of the three on this album, and features typically ethnic instruments such as the Oud, the Kanoun, the Nai and the Kamanja, as well as percussion. There is indeed an underlying sadness, particularly in the early cues, and it's not exclusively ethnic in its makeup, as some passionate string playing is a feature of Les Camps de la mort - Fugue. Sur le pont d'Allenby features a tense, repeating figure and La Gifle a Hanna K features a nice piano-lead theme. La Circoncision appears to be source music, and is a lively dance; with the twlefth and final score track, simply entitled Hanna K, presenting variations on the sad main theme and is urgent and rhythmically interesting early on, with some genuinely passionate moments later.
Five tracks follow from 1981's Les Petites Guerres, scored at the request of the composer's friend, the late Lebanese director Maroun Baghdadi. The film follows Lebanese youths during the long war that tore the country apart. The music, written before the film was shot, was used mainly to propell the scenes without dialogue, and is often rhythmic, repetitive and percussion-driven, the composer using his own voice to unusual effect, noticeably in Bouts de souffle. Soraya provides some light and innocence along the way.
The final score on the album is for 1982's Invitation Au Voyage, which, as I understand it, something of a road movie, a doomed journey of discovery for its young heroes. The Fairlight is prominent in the score, giving the music something of an otherwordly feel at times. Repeating figures are again present, and once more the composer adds his vocalisms to the percussive mix, particularly in Sur la Route. There are airy, ethereal moments and others that are urgent and driven. The main theme has an oriental feel, without necessarily being oriental as such, but is typically sad and fateful. Theme pur piano et cordes presents it in its most straight ahead form, with the composer himself performing, as he does on all the keyboard in the score.
All releases in the series are attractively packaged and the accompanying booklets feature the composer's fascinating notes on each score, presented in both French and English.


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