THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY is a dark melodrama directed by film maker Peter Strickland, it is the story of an intense and stormy relationship between two women, which focuses upon a woman that studies butterflies and moths and how she begins to test the limits of her relationship with her lover, the movie premiered in Toronto in the September of 2014 and was released in the UK in the February of 2015. Visually the movie is exquisite and also contains a thought provoking storyline, which at times has one comparing the on screen relationship with that of your own or people that you are acquainted with. The musical score is by performing duo CATS EYES, this being their first film score, the music is very reminiscent of film music which was coming out of Italy during the mid 1960,s and could easily be mistaken for the work of any number of Italian Maestros that were gainfully employed during that period, Luis Baclov for example or maybe Piero Piccioni, Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovaioli and Bruno Nicolai. There are also a number of similarities with the composing style of French film music composers Francis Lai and Pierre Bachelet. The duo’s combination of voice and varied instrumentation is at times dazzling with a sensual and breathy female vocal occupying a number of the cues supported by strings, woodwind and Cor Anglais . The CD opens with gently running water that is accompanied by fluttering bird song which is a hint of the naturalistic elements within the movie, it is a soothing and calming opening that sets the scene wonderfully for the compositions that are to follow. Track two OPENING CREDIT SONG is enormously calming and easy going, within this we hear vocalist Rachel Zaffira giving a very subtle performance in which it sounds as if she is relating a story of a past love. Rachel’s voice is quite unworldly as in ghostly but so affecting as well as effective, her vocals being enticing and hypnotic. Her skills as a vocalist in my opinion are showcased to a greater degree in track number 9, CARPENTER ARRIVAL her voice lending much to the composition and allowing her to display her range more fully, in many ways She reminded me of Edda dell Orso, maybe not as powerful or operatic as Edda but none the less highly emotive and hauntingly stunning. The instrumentation of the score is varied with the composing duo making good use of harp, harpsichord, strings and pensive sounding woodwind to create gracious and enthralling tone poems that are haunting and emotive. These are further supported by female choir which have to them a serene sound. Taking into account that this is CATS EYES first film score THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY has a mature and seasoned persona to it and I for one look forward to this talented duo’s next cinematic assignment.
This is one of those soundtracks that as soon as you have finished listening to you must return to it, it is polished and accomplished and is one of the most surprising and entertaining film scores of 2015 thus far, intoxicatedly beautiful, wonderfully understated and a work which has thematic material that oozes fragility and projects an air of vulnerability. I recommend it whole heartedly.