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Saturday, April 14, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Banquet + News from Costa Communications

The Banquet
Music by Tan Dun
Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 6459 (EU)
19 Tracks 50:55 mins

This is the second successive film score I have reviewed on this famous label, and also the second to feature the piano skills of Lang Lang.
Feng Xiaggang's new film is described as "a tale of intrigue and muder in 10th-century China" and, from the gorgeous colour stills featured in the accompanying booklet, which also includes English lyrics for the featured songs, looks a sumptuous affair.
The score is by Tan Dun, who of course scored another wonderful film to look at - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and is an orchestral/choral affair, featuring the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Opera House Chorus and the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble, with Lang Lang leading both forces on a number of tracks
The disc opens with a fine romantic ballad "Only For Love," with Jane Liang Ying Zhang's lovely vocal (pity it wasn't in English though). This is the film's main love theme and is reprised instrumentally in "Lost Days," at the end of "Sword Dance," as a low-key wordless choral in "Lady in Red," tragically at the end of "Play Within a Play" and in the final cue "The Banquet," with wodless vocals by Susan Botti.
Another, more subdued song is featured in the score. "Longing in Silence" is first presented as an a capella female vocal; and then as a male vocal, which gives way to piano and orchestra.
Other outstanding tracks include "In the Bamboo Forest," where Lang Lang leads the Percussion Ensemble through an action-packed track, with choir joining later; "After Tonight," a delicate piano-lead version of "Longing in Silence," with soprano joining; and "Exile to Snowy West," with its meandering piano and propulsive strings and percussion.
I continue to find much to admire in the scoring of films from the Orient these days.

From Costa Communications



(Los Angeles, CA) Aaron Zigman, one of Hollywood's most diversified young film composers, scores "The Bridge to Terabithia" for director Gabor Csupo.
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, and based on the popular children's book, it is a coming-of-age story about friends who create a magical kingdom in the forest, where the two of them reign together as king and queen. The film continues its success around the world, already grossing over $100 million. Currently in Spain and France, it has earned more than $5 million and $4 million, respectively. Disney releases the film in the United Kingdom May 4. Hollywood Records released Zigman's score CD February 13. The DVD will be available on June 19.
Zigman's rich yet subtle score highlights the emotional material without sensationalizing it. The full orchestral score purposefully soars and swells in just the right places, and Zigman's use of a choir enhances it even further.
As a classically trained pianist, Zigman developed a strong musical foundation early in life, allowing him to work on everything from popular music to orchestral concert works. His incredible range has taken him from Industrial to Urban sounds for "Alpha Dog," from a classical score to R&B with John Legend for "Pride," as well as the epic score to "Bridge to Terabithia." He began his musical career as a producer and arranger for notable popular music stars including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Tina Turner, Carly Simon, Christina Aguilera and Seal. His numerous symphonic pieces include a 35 minute-long tone poem divided into five movements, composed as a tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin; and "Impressions," a suite for a wind ensemble. Zigman premiered his original concert work, "Vis Vitae," at the Third Annual Beverly Hills International Music Festival.
Expanding his repertoire to include film, Zigman began to arrange and orchestrate for features such as "Mulan," "The Birdcage," "Licensed to Kill" and "Pocahontas." His work garnered the attention of director Nick Cassavetes, for whom he completed his first feature score for "John Q.," starring Denzel Washington. The two soon collaborated again on the box-office hit "The Notebook," which the versatile composer scored in the musical style of the 1940s, performing it with vintage instruments and using period-specific recording instruments for an authentic sound.
"Terabithia" comes on the heels of a very productive year for Zigman. Zigman-scored films released in 2006 include projects as diverse as "Flicka," "ATL," "Akeelah and the Bee," "Take the Lead," "Step Up," "Alpha Dog," and "The Virgin of Juarez." Upcoming projects for the busy composer include "10th and Wolf," with Giovanni Ribisi, James Marsden and Dennis Hopper; "The Wendall Baker Story," the directorial debut of Andrew Wilson and Luke Wilson, starring their brother Owen Wilson, Eva Mendes and Eddie Griffin; and "Martian Child" with John Cusack.


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