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Saturday, February 24, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Illusionist

The llusionist
Music by Philip Glass
Ryko RCD 10884 (USA)
21 Tracks 51:22 mins

Like buses, you wait a long time for one then two come along at once, so is the case with Edward Norton films. The talented actors has been absent from our screens for a while, but all of a sudden we have The Painted Veil, followed (in the UK) on March 2nd by The Illusionist, the second period film dealing with magicians to open here in recent months. However, I believe The Ilusionist actually came out before The Prestige in the States. Delaying its release here, will I fear severely jeopardise its chances, despite many critics actually favouring it.
The music for The Illusionist was written by the inimitable Philip Glass and performed quite beautifully by the Czech Film Orchestra under the baton of Michael Riesman, and whereas David Julyan's score for The Prestige was heavy to say the least, but you generally know what you're getting with Philip Glass. He does try to follow the action a little on occasion and there is an overall feel to the the music, slightly reminiscent of the late, great Bernard Herrmann, but whether it be concert, stage or film, there is basically only one style with Philip Glass, and, having said that, you'll know therefore what to expect from this score.
Much of the music just flows along on its own sweet path, largely with a somewhat suspenseful, mysterious feel, in keeping with its subject matter. It's string-heavy, though the occasional presence of brass give it a more powerful feel. Lighter moments do appear from time to time, but these are usually quite fleeting. I do however like the composer's main theme, which opens and closes the album in style. It's a very classically-styled piece, with a striking and bold opening, and it's a pity it wasn't utilised more.
To conclude, basically one for fans of Glass' minimalist approach only.


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