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Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Composer Alex Wurman's publicists, Costa Communications, have kindly forwarded me promotional CDs of his scores for the HBO film Temple Grandin, which of course recently won seven Emmy Awards, including one for Wurman's music; and the big screen comedy The Switch.
Of course the scores and subject material couldn't be more different, with Temple Grandin being the true story of a remarkable woman, who struggled against autism to emerge as a person with a pretty unique understanding of animal behaviour. The film is directed by Mick Jackson and stars Claire Danes, both of them winning Emmys for their contributions.
Of his score, Wurman says: "my nephew is autistic and I've learned a lot from him and my tireless sister. The film gave me the opportunity to create music that conveys the frantic, smart and passionate mindset of Temple Grandin."
The Temple Grandin promo only contains some 18 minutes of music, which I imagine is just a sampling of the score, although it is not unknown for brief scores to win awards.
The "Opening Titles" is a propulsive affair, whilst "Chestnut's Dead," after an appropriately downbeat opening, actually takes flight. The propulsive, optimistic nature of the music continues throughout subsequent tracks, with strings very much to the fore. Even "Slaughterhouse Procession" has a lightness to it. Overall, I suppose the music reminds somewhat of Philip Glass in its minimalist nature, save for the final track on the disc "Ladder into the Future," which has a rural Southern feel, courtesy of slide guitar.
The Switch couldn't be more different than Temple Grandin. Starring Jennifer Aniston as a 40-year-old single woman who uses a turkey baster to become pregnant, not knowing that an accident leads to her best friend, played by Jason Bateman, replacing her preferred sperm sample with his own.
As for Wurman's orchestral score, well maybe that's not quite so different, at least not on the evidence of the opening track, which continues in minimalistic vein. A floaty, sentimental piece follows, but quickly transforms into comic sneakiness. There is a touch of minimalism to be found in subsequent tracks, but mostly what follows over the 37-minute running time is light and melodic, with a good dose of sentiment, but also some comedic moments.
As is often the case with comedy scores, many of the cues are quite brief, hence the 31 on this disc but, all-in-all, a very pleasant listening experience, which really deserves to be released commercially.
Temple Grandin is available on DVD in the States, but The Switch has yet to be released to the home market.


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