UN SAC DE BILLES.

 

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Based upon the novel A BAG OF MARBLES by Joseph Joffo, UN SAC DE BILLES was directed by Christian Duguay. It is the second film version of the novel the first being released in 1975. The music for this version of the story is the work of the brilliantly talented Armand Amar, he is for me personally a composer who has never disappointed and has always been able to experiment and re-invent himself and his musical styles on every project he is involved with. UN SAC DE BILLES is set in the dark and dangerous days of World War 2, in France and focuses upon two young Brothers, Joseph and Maurice, who are Jewish and are sent to the free zone by their parents. This is a story of both courage and determination and shows how the two siblings escape the occupying Nazi’s and attempt to re-unite their family. The musical score is a delight and contains so many delicately coloured musical themes and textures that it is something I for one listened to three times before sitting down writing this review. I believe composer Armand Aman is a breath of fresh air in film music, and thankfully is one of the very few composers that is working in film today that still creates themes and motifs in an abundance that it is astonishing to think that one person composed all of them. As I have said he is a composer that is not afraid of experimentation, not afraid of using instruments that maybe might seem out of place, because each time he gets the desired effect and results. His music is varied, vibrant and above all innovative. 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 the Country. He taught himself how to play various instruments including the Tablas, Congas and Zarbe, at the same time he familiarized himself with other instruments, many of which the composer has put to effect use within his scores for both television and film. He also studied more traditional music and was classically trained under the guidance of various masters and tutors. In the 1970, s the composer became involved in writing music for dance and felt that he could fully express himself musically via this medium, later when teaching at the Higher National Music School, he began to become focused upon the relationship between music and dance. Since those early days the composer has worked with numerous choreographers who are well known and respected in contemporary dance circles. He began to write music for TV and film during the 1990’s and considering his late arrival onto the film music stage it is truly amazing to see the impressive list of projects he worked upon. Thus far into his career the composer has been involved in the scoring numerous acclaimed documentaries.

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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, because his scores are an essential and vitally important component of the film making process. His music essentially becoming another character within a storyline, or being a part of a scene in a documentary or motion picture. The music that he composed for UN SAC DE BILLES is probably a more conventional approach for the composer, by this I mean it is symphonic, and there is not a great deal of ethnic or unusual instrumentation included, this is more of a piano, strings and cello work, and one that is simply spellbinding. The composer has crafted a soundtrack that overflows with highly emotive themes, and is laden with fragile and delicate sounding musical phrases and passages, it underlines and supports the storyline fully, and has all the attributes and rich thematic qualities to enable it to be a heart-warming and enriching listening experience away from the images which it was intended to enhance. Take a listen to track number,19, PARIS EST LIBERE as an example,  this is an uplifting composition for building strings that swell and ooze emotion and are filled with so much joy and relief they sound as if they are fit to burst.  This is a soundtrack that you MUST add to your collection, if you do not then you will so much poorer emotionally without it, and while you are looking for this score, why not take a look at the rest of this composers works, his output is verging on the unbelievable and his talent is boundless.

 

 

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PAST LIFE.

 

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The name of composer Cyrille Aufort, has for a few years been popping up here and there, and every time I have experienced his music I have always found it to be rewarding and uplifting. The composers gift for creating melodies and lilting tone poems is quite extraordinary, he has a varied style and approach towards fashioning scores for movies, but in the main takes the classical sounding route as in fully orchestral and symphonic. I would have to say that his style and the sound that he achieves on many of his soundtracks is somewhat similar to Armand Amar, but it is not in any way un-original or mimicking this composers music, Aufort like Amar is in my opinion highly innovative and in many cases employs a brooding or underlying musical persona, which is present throughout or is utilised as a starting point and continues to act as a background or a foundation to the nuances and motifs that the composer creates and basically weaves into it, the effect is at times quite stunning, and on occasion takes one by surprise but it is a nice surprise as more often than not one is not expecting it. I first became acquainted with this style in his score for, L’EMPERUER and again in his work on LA GLACE ET LA CIEL, however, in these two examples the composer did employ a grand sounding thematic content and develop the central themes to a greater level, his music being an essential component of both productions. With L’EMPERUER , being laden with rich themes. Of course, Aufort is more than capable of producing dramatic and even tense and dissonant musical landscapes, and I know that this sounds like a cliché, but the composer is chameleon like when producing music for movies, take SPLICE for example, which was quite a dark work, matching the subject matter. One of his latest soundtracks is for PAST LIFE, this is a perfect example of the versatility and originality of this composer, the score is for most of its duration, somewhat light and melodic, but these melodic passages are not in any way overblown or even grand sounding, in fact they are more like hints of melodies, or small wisps of themes that do not fully develop but still manage to become familiar with the listener. The composer relies predominantly upon, low key strings and woods with fragile sounding piano, harp and female voice to purvey an atmosphere and mood that is emotive, poignant and hauntingly beautiful. The opening theme is a tender and subtle piece with piano delicately performing the opening bars, supported by strings, with a light and melancholy sounding horn, strings develop and swell as the piano expands upon the opening phrases. Track number three, KATOWISE, is slightly more up-tempo, with driving strings of sorts, laying down a foundation for the composer to build on, employing woods and more strings which at times begin to take on a more sinister persona. The composers low-key approach on this score has certainly paid dividends as he has fashioned a work that is not only alluring, but is one that I am sure listeners will return to on many occasions.

 

There are also a handful of cues performed by THE THLEMA YELLIN ALUMNI CHOIR, which are also compelling pieces and are also an important component of the films storyline which is set in 1977. It begins with an Israeli choir performing in Berlin, and we see an older woman looking through the program for the concert, she is drawn to the name of a young woman who is performing solo soprano, and is familiar with it. Later at a gathering after the performance, the older woman in the audience Agnieszka played by Katarzyna Gniewkowska decides that She must speak with the Soprano singer, who’s, name is Sephi and portrayed by actress Joy Rieger. The conversation that entails is a difficult and tense encounter as Sephi speaks no German and the Older woman speaks no Hebrew, but Agnieszka still manages to get over to Sephi that she knew her Father and that he was a murderer. What follows is a storyline that is like a thread being unraveled as Sephi, confides in her sister and together they discover that maybe their Father is not the man they know and love. A tangled web of deceit, dark secrets and heartache unfolds, all of which is matched and punctuated wonderfully by Aufort’s score. The work also contains additional music by, Avner Dorman and Ella Milch-Sheriff.  Recommended.

TRACK LISTING
1 Past Life Theme 2:51
2 Hishki Hizki (composed by Abraham Caseres) 3:33
3 Katowice 1:37
4 Baruch’s Diary Part 1 2:58
5 Photoshoot 2:18
6 Dance Teacher 1:31
7 Warsaw 3:19
8 The Concert (composed by Avner Dorman) 3:07
9 Baruch’s Diary Part 2 2:05
10 Archives 4:35
11 Zielinski 2:31
12 Sefi’s Letter 1:48
13 Berlin 2:43
14 The Time Will Come (composed by Ella Milch-Sheriff) 3:56
15 Baruch and Agnieszka 2:03
16 Past Life End Credits 2:50
17 Cantique de Jean Racine (composed by Gabriel Fauré) 5:29