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Sunday, March 01, 2009


The Home of Dark Butterflies
Music by Panu Aaltio
MovieScore Media MMS09005
18 Tracks 43:21 mins

Another new name to make my listening acquaintance is Panu Aaltio, whose score for Finland's entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category of this year's Academy Awards has been released by MovieScore Media as a limited edition CD (available from the usual sources) and of course as an 1Tunes download.
Aaltio has worked on many of his better known compatriot Tuomas Kantelinen's recent scores, both as an assistant and orchestrator, but he also scored acclaimed 2008 Finnish horror film Sauna. Here, Matt Dunkley, a composer in his own right, and also a member of the MovieScore Media family, conducts a predominantly string orchestra, with solo piano, performed by Ritva Viitala-Aaltio and Milla Viljamaa, respectively, to the fore.
The disc gets underway with Aaltio's initially flowing-stringed "Main Title," which gives way to a softer touch as it continues. The piano first makes its presence felt in the lovely "Big Plans." "Fever and Nightmares" commences almost inaudibly, but builds to a forceful crescendo, before dying away again. The flowing, yet somewhat anguished piano and strings of "Unwelcome Visit" follows. After an uncertain start, the composer's beautiful main theme from "Big Plans" blossoms forth in "The Butterfly Project." The theme surfaces again, after a tentative start to "Boys Decide to Stay." There's a sad stillness to "Juhani's Great Loss," followed by a return to forceful, string writing in the driven "Memories in Water." "Jealous Christmas" is a largely low-key affair, though it eventually builds to another string-driven crescendo, before ending reflectively on piano. "Alone" is just as it sounds really, with piano always good for this mood. The feel continues into "The Farewell," though strings join to further tug at the heartstrings.
A welcome change of mood comes with the flowing piano of "Spring Arrives," giving way to perhaps the most satisfying yet rendering of the main theme in "Glimpse of Happiness." Aaltio's secondary theme from the second part of the "Main Title" music gets a good workout in "The Past Revealed," with strings taking it to new levels of intensity, before fading away. "We Can Be Just as Fragile" follows, initially very restrained, but finishing strongly on strings. The lonely piano returns again for "Point of No Return," the track taking a decidedly dark turn with the addition of strings, turning propulsive, before a tragic conclusion.
The penultimate track, "Forgiveness," sees a return to the main theme in all its passionate glory, also receiving a particularly propulsive ending, before the lonely piano strains of "Saying Goodbye" provide a low-key conclusion to the album.
This is a very capable dramatic score, with a very memorable main theme, and I certainly look forward to hearing more of Panu Aaltio's work in the future.
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