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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Good German

The Good German
Music by Thomas Newman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6781
29 Tracks 44:42 mins

Much has been said about Thomas Newman's Oscar-nominated score being a throwback to the days of his father's glory years, and from what I've read ( I have yet to see the film) the film is shot in a way that evokes the Hollywood films of that era. It is certainly true to say that this is not the kind of score Newman has become more famous for in recent years. It's gloriously orchestral and though strings are used heavily, the score doesn't so much remind me of his father's writing (and who could match the string sound Alfred Newman drew from his orchestra of the time anyway?), but more of the work of Bernard Herrmann, particularly in the powerful brass and dark woodwind writing. Having said this, there are, here and there, familiar Thomas Newman touches - and what also remains the same is the number of tracks, signifying that many of them are, as usual, very brief - the longest being only 2:49.
So what of the score, well it has received plenty of critical praise, along with its Oscar nod, but I'm afraid it doesn't do a lot for me. Maybe it will, when I have finally caught up with the film, but for now I find it a difficult listening experience, much of the music being dark, mysterious and suspenseful, with just a few moments of frantic string writing and menacing brass to get the blood pumping, plus some delicate harp playing here and there and romantic violin solos promising but ultimately failing to deliver anything substantial, owing to the brevity of the tracks.
In conclusion then, as with the Black Book album, nothing really memorable about the score, but I really need to see the film to judge its effectiveness.


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