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Sunday, December 10, 2006

CD REVIEW - Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth
Music by Javier Navarette
Milan 399 060-2 (EU)
21 Tracks 73:56 mins

This fantasy from writer/director Guillermo Del Toro features a score from Javier Navarrete, an unfamiliar name to me, but certainly one to watch, as he has produced a very effective score indeed for a film that has received much critical acclaim.
Set in Spain, 1944, following the Civil War, where a band of rebels fight on in the mountains and where a Fascist officer's stepdaughter discovers a fantasy world in an overgrown labyrinth, there she meets Pan, an ancient satyr, and where, like the rebels outside, she faces a race against time to gain her freedom.
Navarrete's score, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic and choir, with solo vocals provided by Lua, is a wonderfully evocative effort, based on a lullaby composed after a first reading of Del Toro's story, described by the composer as "a never-ending ascendant piano spiral with a simple vocal line for voice, violin or orchestra." The lullaby is in waltz time, and further material, like the Spanish nostalgia of "The Refuge," draw upon this style.
Early on in the score there are often ethereal, impressionistic moments, with choir quite prominent, as well as delicate violin and piano lines, but as the score progresses it gets darker and more menacing, with big crescendos and anxious bouts of action. However, the lullaby returns in "A Princess" to end matters satisfactorily, with the final album cue, "Pan's Labyrinth Lullaby" briefly reprising the theme for violin and piano.
I have to say that Navarette's lullaby is one of the more affecting themes written for the screen this year, and had me whistling it all over the house following just my third (but most attentive) listen to this album.
The disc is accompanied by a 12-page booklet, featuring stills from the film, plus notes from both composer and director, making for a pretty complete package.
If you like dark fantasy scores, symphonically realised, you will certainly want to check this one out.


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