I interviewed Pinar Toprak a few years ago now, I was taken with her versatility and also her fresh and enthusiastic attitude and approach to scoring motion pictures. Her music struck a chord with me (forgive the pun). Her compositions I thought were interesting and above all original and entertaining. I am pleased to say that her score for THE RIVER MURDERS has been released by Caldera records, and they have seen fit to give us an extra treat by including her score for SINNER on the same compact disc. THE RIVER MURDERS was released in 2011, and I always wondered why a score that was so good had not had an official release, the film too was an entertaining thriller about a serial killer which starred Ray Liotta and Christian Slater. The surprising thing about the soundtrack is that it contains just two live performances, by this I mean two solo performers, the remainder of the score is constructed and performed on synthesizer etc, but would you know this if not told of it, I doubt it. It is a credit to the artistry of the composer and her skills in the actual orchestrating or fashioning of the music and the way in which she fuses the synthetic with the actual solo performances flawlessly. The central solo instrument is cello, wonderfully performed by Tina Guo who I think we have all heard at some point.
She actually takes the music and lovingly purveys it via her cello giving it heart, soul, depth and substance and also via her performance adds real passion to the proceedings. The second soloist is Liz Constantine who provides the haunting vocal performance on the score. Guo’s heartfelt cello performances combine with Constantine’s unblemished vocalizing on occasion within the score to create a wondrous sound that manages to invade the listener’s inner being, the most expressive performance that showcases both the performers talent is for me track number 12, END CREDITS, where we are also treated to a celestial sounding choir. It is also Guo’s performances throughout the score that bring the whole thing together, her sorrowful and poignant sound acting as a bridge between the more dramatic and atonal sections of the score. In many ways the style of music, especially the sections written for cello, evoked memories of some of Ennio Morricone’s work for example, MOSES THE LAWGIVER, and Guo’s performance is not dissimilar in stature and quality to that of the great Dino Asciolla who is a performer that Morricone utilized on many occasions, the choral sections also reminded me of Morricone’s style for example CASULTIES OF WAR with cello weaving its magic within the vocal performances to elevate them to a higher plain, this I think is demonstrated to a greater degree within track number 2, THE FATHER,THE SON AND THE LETTER.
Of course the score does also contain a number of darker and more ominous sounding passages which are largely atmospheric but still contain some thematic properties, Toprak subtly hinting at a more serious, chilling and fearsome atmosphere, with a sprinkling of piano that is underlined by a faint but threatening background. This is a highly emotive and expressive work, and one that you will love. The compact disc also contains the composers score for the 2007 production SINNER, which is also a delight, mesmerizing violin and piano are the main stays of this work, and together and also as solo performances offer up a richness and luxuriously melancholic sound that is hauntingly beautiful. Again I am sure SINNER will delight all who listen to it. A wonderful release from Caldera containing two infectiously attractive works. Also includes a 7 minute audio of the composer talking about her career,and informative liner notes courtesy of Gergely Hubai with a number of stills from The River Murders. Please do not miss this one.
See interview with the composer.
click here to go to Caldera records.