Marco Beltrami has always been a composer that I have admired and have in 99 percent of cases loved his work for film. First memories of Beltrami’s music was like so many other people the SCREAM series, I thought he did a great job in the series and managed to get the right balance between horror and comedy, because after all in my humble opinion the SCREAM movies were kind of a send up at times of other slasher movies as they were called. Beltrami’s scores for the series were an important and integral part of the movies, at times his scores reaching an almost operatic level, with the use of sombre strings rasping brass’s and female vocal. One of the latest releases from the ever industrious Movie Score Media label is MATHILDE, this is a Russian movie that was released last year(2017), so it is probably a film that not a great deal of people will have seen or indeed have heard of, but once again thanks to Mikael at MSM, we have a chance to savour a great score that is literally dripping in romanticism and filled with epic sounding themes. The storyline relates to the watching audience the supposed relationship between the then heir to the Russian throne Nicholas Romanov and the Ballerina, Matilda Kshesinskaya, the film opens in 1890, when we see the couple meet for the first time. It follows the somewhat uneasy and tormented relationship between the pair up until Nicholas and his wife Aleksandra become Tsar and Tsarina six years later.
Apparently, Beltrami was drawn to the project because of the period and the history and the lavish sets and costumes that were part of the production. Beltrami fuses both synthetic and symphonic colours and textures to create a robust and theme laden work, that is haunting as well as entertaining, the underlying tone is romantic, but this is tinged and at times itself underlined by a sound and style that is dark and threatening. Although the composer utilises electronics within the score these do not in any way sound out of place or uncomfortable given the period in which the movies story is set. The composer effectively combining traditional musical sounds as in conventional instrumentation with contemporary synthetics to fashion a score that is filled with drama, romance, fragility and a fair amount of apprehension and darkness. At times I was reminded of the style of Jerry Goldsmith, with bold brass flourishes and fearsome sounding percussion, but there are many sides to this work, and I hope there is something for everyone. The central theme in-particular which is for Mathilde is strikingly beautiful, the composer presenting it throughout in various arrangements and guises. Strings and piano being utilised in most cases and at times with lilting woods and delicately performed harpsichord also entering the musical equation. It has to it an imposing but at the same time melodic persona, like many of the composers earlier works, as in THE FACULTY and the already mentioned SCREAM movies, at times the music attaining a level and richness that one associates with opera or classical composers. One for the collection, yes most certainly.