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Thursday, January 05, 2006

CD REVIEWS - The Brothers Grimm and Brokeback Mountain

The Brothers Grimm
Music by Dario Marianelli
Milan 301 728-1 (EU)
17 tracks 71:50 mins

Dario Marianelli seems to have suddenly burst onto the scene, what with his pianistic score for the latest version of Pride and Prejudice and now Terry illiam's latest fantasy The Brothers Grimm, and he shows a real versatility in that the scores couldn't be more different. Grimm is a large orchestral-choral score and is given a very generous presentation on this lengthy album. Not only that, but many of the tracks are quite lengthy, with the music going through many moods within a single track. This however doesn't always make for the best listening experience away from the film, where I'm sure the music works admirably. Here, there are some great moments, but often these disappear into dark dissonances just as they are getting exciting and interesting.
Some of those moments include the big, lumbering march of a main theme in the album's opening and closing tracks; a mysterious, waltz-like theme, which is seemingly at the heart of every cue and goes through many variations; some exciting and menacing action in various cues; the regal then propulsive opening to The Queen's Story; some effective ethnic Xenaesque female vocalisms; and a lovely string theme of serene beauty, which brings moments of calm to proceedings.
Not an easy listen then, but stick with it and you will be rewarded here and there; and on the back of these two breakthrough scores, it will be interesting to see what 2006 has in store for Dario Marianelli.

Brokeback Mountain
Music by Gustavo Santaolalla
Verve Forecast 0602498865859 (EU)
17 Tracks 43:30 mins

Known widely as "the gay cowboy movie," a label that may deter many from paying good money at the box office, which would be a shame in view of its critical receptuion. As for the score, well it only accounts for 12 minutes or so of this album, and it's all pretty unmemorable, scored for acoustic guitar, pedal steel and strings. The title theme appears in three variations, the best being the first laid-back version. "Snow" features a travelling motif and "Riding Horses" is a brief and light mover. The closing score cue "The Wings" is the pick of the score and is quite uplifting.
The remainder of the album is given over to country songs, the best known artists perhaps being Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Martina McBride and Linda Ronstadt. It's a nice selection, but is hardly likely to attract film music fans, just as Santaolalla's cues aren't going to attract country music fans.


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