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Monday, July 13, 2009


The Stoning of Soraya M.
Music by John Debney
Varese Sarabande 302 064 201 2 (US)
18 Tracks 47:58 mins

John Debney's score for this adapation of Freidoune Sahebjam's best seller is one of the first to be made available by Varese Sarabande both as a limited edition CD and as a download through iTunes. The film tells the tragic true story of an Iranian woman, whose arranged marriage leads to a tragedy.
Debney of course wrote the acclaimed score for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and this film reunites him with the film's producer Stephen McEveety, as well as actor James Caviezel. The film has already taken the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival and premiered in the Dtates at the LA Film Festival. It's important subject matter has lead to the generation of an e-petition that is intended to persuade the United Nations to compel countries like Iran to abolish the terrible penalty of stoning.
Naturally, with another project set in the Middle East, composer Debney has come up with a similarly ethnic-styled score as he did for The Passion, featuring an 80-piece orchestra, supplemented by the likes of Persian violin and cello, Oud and ethnic woodwinds; and featuring Tehran-born vocalist Sussan Deyhim
After a mournful start, the "Main Title" gains much weight as it moves along percussively, lead by ethnic woodwind. "She Lies by the River" opens mysteriously with a sound which conjours up the shifting sands, before concluding with a fragment of the opening theme. Contrasting what has gone before is the pastoral, flute-lead "The Meadow." But this brief moment of beauty soon gives way to the violin-lead lament of "They Looked Away as I Died," the mournful mood continuing in "Death of Hashem's Wife" and "Digging Graves," the latter accompanied by the wailing lament of Ms Deyhim, who provides a much warmer vocal in "Your Mother's Ring," and continues in the lightly propulsive "Waiting." The ominous "The Beating" follows and then Ms Hashem provides another lament for the opening of "The Verdict," before the track builds percussively, only to end on a more low-key vocal. "I'll Tell the World" is similar to the middle section of the proceeding track, but ending this time on a woodwind lament. "Saying Goodbye" is another mournful affair, but one which reaches quite a passionate conclusion. Ms Deyhim's mournful vocal dominates the brief "Dead Woman Walking," which leads into the near 13-minute title track, which is initially suitably ominous, but gives way to emotion-filled woodwind and string solos, before a plaintive, then passionate reprise of the theme from "The Meadow" leads to another woodwind lament. Heartbreaking stuff!
The penultimate track, "The Gentleness of Passing" makes for a nice aftermath, flowing nicely on harp, with passionate strings; with the final cue "The Escape" initially something of a departure from all that has gone before, save for Ms Deyhim's vocal, with its action-packed opening; though it does end peacefully and somewhat triumphantly on strings and flute.
This latest ethnic effort from Debney bears favourable comparison with The Passion and, like that score, is another fine work, again showing that the composer is just as capable, if not more so, of scoring serious dramatic fare as he is the numerous comedies he has been associated with.


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