Film music composers in my opinion are a rare breed they have the ability to compose music that in the first instant fits the movie and heightens the drama, accents the romanticism and also supports the action that is taking place on screen, then of course they have the ability to write melodic and in most cases memorable themes. So it’s no mean feat when music and image come together and the chemistry works. In many ways and I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all, film music composers are probably more disciplined than composers of music for the concert hall, because they are writing for a set time and also are at times limited to what music they can actually produce so they have to produce music that is effective but in a limited time frame, whereas composers of music for the concert hall probably and I say probably because I am not certain, have a greater freedom to express themselves and also are able to develop a theme or an idea to its full capacity without the restrictions of time slots, scripts and also without the added distractions of explosions, gun shots and other loud noises that invariably take place within movies. So when a composer/conductor from the world of concert hall music or serious music as it is so often referred to steps into the world of film music it is interesting to see or to the point hear how they fare. Gustavo Dudamel, is a gifted composer and also an energetic and passionate conductor of classical music and music for concert hall performance. He has just recently completed his first film score which is for THE LIBERATOR a movie that charts the life and times of Simon Bolivar. At first the producers of the movie asked Dudamel to act as an advisor for the musical side of things but the composer became more involved and wrote a brief melody which he thought might act as a suitable central theme for the picture, the producers liked it and the rest as they say is history. Dudamel turned to multi award winning film music composer John Williams for advice but not on composition but on the mechanics of film scoring and the best way in which music could serve a film.
Dudamel said that he approached the movie thinking that to be subtle would serve it best, but at the same time using ethnic instrumentation and sounds that would evoke the sound of South America, well I think no I know that he has certainly succeeded in doing this. The compact disc opens with QUIEN PUEDE DETENER LA LLUVIA? (Who can stop the rain from falling?). This is a cue that has subtle and quiet beginnings the plaintive tones of ethnic flute and harp combine to create a calming and quite tranquil opening or introduction, these however lead into a gradual build up of a powerful and strident orchestral composition.
The composer employing darkly rich and driving tribal drums that are supported by equally driving strings and imposing horns that introduce a full working of the theme by the string section and choir. The central theme does re-appear throughout the remainder of the score but at times it is only fleeting statement that we catch or an arrangement of it which the composer weaves into the score to tantalize and intrigue the listener at one point being given to a solo trumpet on track number 7, THE FALL OF THE REPUBLIC, the performance which has affiliations to the brooding and isolated trumpet performance on Zimmers BACKDRAFT score is introduced by low key strings that are dark and ominous which are underlined by flute and also a sprinkling of martial sounding timpani, but the trumpet solo is fleeting and in some ways too short lived simply because it is so mesmerising and captivating. Ethnic flutes are scattered throughout the score giving it a feel of the South Americas and also adding authenticity to the proceedings, the composer also utilises a number of ethnic sounding percussive elements within his score that work well when combined with the more conventional instrumentation of the symphony orchestra, this is a sweeping and highly melodic work that I am sure will be enjoyed not only by film music collectors but also by followers of Dudamel from the concert hall. It is an imposing and powerfully romantic sounding work filled with melodies both grand and subtle and at times for me the quieter more delicate passages possessed a whisper of the style of John Barry. Performed by the Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolivar de Venezuela, I just say to you recommended highly go buy it. Dudamel has already commented that he will probably not return to the film scoring arena, so maybe this is the one time we will get to savour his incredible talent as a composer of music for film.
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