I won’t go into a big plot or synopsis talk about the movie to open this review, because the film in question is so good that I think you should go see it. Directed by Tom Ford who also directed A SINGLE MAN. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is one of the best movies you will see this year and possibly next. The musical score is by the much talented and highly innovative composer Abel Korzeniowski and is his first American motion picture in nearly three years, of course he is known for his tantalizing and atmospheric music for the dark and disturbing TV series PENNY DREADFUL as well as his lush and haunting music for ROMEO AND JULIET. The composer has in the past few years concentrated on scoring movies that have been produced in his native Poland. Korzeniowski is for me one of those composers that delivers every time, I do not think that I have ever been disappointed with anything he has written. In my humble opinion though NOCTURNAL ANIMALS could be the best score from him thus far. Maybe this will be the one that gains him more recognition and the work that will garner him a much-deserved Oscar. The score is performed predominately by strings whether this be as an ensemble or in solo mode, with at times subdued offerings from the brass, woods and gentle fragmented piano. I thought on hearing it for the first time that there were certain affiliations with the sound created by John Barry, The central and most forthright motif or theme is for the movie s central character Susan which can be heard running throughout the score in some form or another, the first time we hear this is within the opening track on the recording WAYWARD SISTERS, this is emotive and luxurious sounding film music at its best and probably something that Korngold or Steiner would have been proud to call theirs. Violin and cello combine to create this gorgeously rich and affecting piece, that is underlined and further carried along by the string section and some wonderful piano accompaniment. The cue continues to build and grow in melodious content the strings sweeping along and creating a romantic but bitter sweet sound that is heart rending and captivating. This also evoked a sound and style that I had not heard since the days of Bernard Herrmann, and it was a complete coincidence that I had been listening to VERTIGO in the car the day before I started to listen to the score for NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, because this is what I was reminded of, or at least the quieter moments from that classic score. This style is also evident within THE FIELD (alt version). Then we have tracks such as REVENGE with its low woodwind and MOTHERS with its driving but understated strings, initially one thinks it will be a slow and quiet piece but it begins to build and build, until it finally transforms into a nervous and perplexing piece with a worrying and taught atmosphere. Both REVENGE and MOTHERS are of a more tense and darker nature and again I was reminded of the work of Herrmann. Track number two, EXHIBITION is an interesting one, the strings being present once again but this time we hear an orgasmic breathing above them. TABLE FOR TWO is one of the highlights of this beautifully crafted soundtrack, piano and strings combine to create a sensuous and rich sound that washes over the listener. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a superb soundtrack; it is a score that delights and entertains and what more could one want, it is perfection.. Highly Recommended.
Armand Amar is a composer I have long admired, he is a composer, musician and arranger that for me is not afraid of experimentation when he writes for film, but he is sometimes criticised by many collectors who have said that the orchestration or the sound he employs is at times a little different, but surely that’s what writing for film is all about, to come up with something, a sound a musical passage or a theme that is innovative and different or original as I would call it. Born in Jerusalem in 1953 he spent his childhood in Morocco, and it is here that he became immersed in the what must have seemed to be the exotic and ethnic sounds of that region. He learned how to play various instruments including the Tablas, Congas and Zarb and familiarised himself with other instruments. He also studied more traditional music and classical music under various masters and tutors. In the mid-1970, s the composer became involved in writing music for dance and could fully express himself musically via this medium and later when teaching at the Higher National Music School focused upon the relationship between music and dance. Since that time the composer has worked with numerous choreographers who are well known and respected in contemporary dance circles. During the 1990, s, he began to write music for TV and film and has during his career been involved in the scoring numerous acclaimed documentaries. His highly addictive, emotive and haunting compositions have become the beautiful and dramatic background to motion pictures of all genres and not just a background as his scores are an essential and vitally important component of the entire film making process. In many ways, it is like the films this composer works upon, have been made in monochrome and Amar is the artist who is adding colour and creating atmospheres and moods via his stunning compositions, this of course is in no way derogatory to the skills and visions of the many directors and producers he has collaborated with over the years. Armand Amar is also a composer who utilises the human voice frequently and to great effect within his scores, whether this be in the form of songs or wordless vocals, either way the result is always mesmerizing, stunning and striking. One of his recent scoring assignments is for an American made motion picture entitled THE HISTORY OF LOVE, it stars British actor Derek Jacobi, Elliot Gould and Gemma Arteton. Based upon the best-selling book by Nicole Krauss and directed by Radu Mihaileanu it tells the story of star-crossed lovers in a saga that travels from a Polish shtetl to New York’s Jewish community. The musical score is wonderfully melodic, diverse and original with the composer fusing many styles and musical colours to create a shimmering and delicately effecting work.
It is filled with themes that are rich and elegant with the composer’s flair for innovative orchestration shining through at every opportunity, giving the work a sound and a style that is at times filled with threat and gloom but on other occasions it has an aura of hope, melancholy and romanticism. The composer utilises solo piano, strings and a range of ethnic instrumentation that adds weight and credence to the proceedings. Take a listen to track number nine, THE DEATH OF ALMA this is a piece that begins slowly and is at first is a fragile and somewhat apprehensive sounding composition, solo piano and viola being the two main instruments, as the track builds and progresses the string section is brought into the mix, with fleeting brass stabs and timpani punctuating which takes the cue into a more dramatic and urgent mode before it returns to the calming viola solo which gradually becomes centre stage again as the string section and brass accompaniment fades away. THE HISTORY OF LOVE is a delightful score a work that is on first listen filled with surprises and “different orchestration” but it is also a score that I know will become a regular listen for any film music collector once heard. Recommended, and if you like this why not check out the immense catalogue of this talented composer.