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.