Tag Archives: Pinar Toprak



At last after much hype and lots of anticipation from fans, CAPTAIN MARVEL has burst onto cinema screens. The Marvel films franchise is as we all know huge and this latest superhero tale will I am sure continue to attract fans old and new. The musical score for CAPTAIN MARVEL is the work of Turkish composer Pinar Toprak. She has in the past few years established herself as one of the worlds most talented and highly regarded composers of film music and has worked on numerous movies all of which she has provided with excellent soundtracks. CAPTAIN MARVEL is a powerhouse of a score and has to it a contemporary sound but at the same time purveys a style that is from a bygone age in film scoring. The score contains great sweeping themes and has within it emotionally charged musical passages and so much great action music it is hard to take in that this is all from one movie. The action cues are brassy and high octane affairs but amongst all the action the themeatic material shines through and it is this rhythmic and rich style of scoring that gives this soundtrack so much appeal, it is I think to compare this music with scores for other Marvel films productions, but let me just say that Pinar Toprak has certainly created a work that not only equals past scores but in some cases surpasses them in the entertainment stakes. The opening cue CAPTAIN MARVEL begins with stirring brass flourishes that are supported and carried along by driving strings, enhanced by thundering percussion, we are then treated to the central theme from the score purveyed by horns that are embellished and given greater effect by the use of romantically laced strings and fanfares from more brass, the cue also contains an interesting pulsating synth line that acts as a background to the proceedings as it approaches its conclusion and shimmering crescendo of a six note motif, this relatively short opener sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow. Track number two, WAKING UP, is the opposite to the opening cue, it is a more gentile and melodious affair, female voice combines with subdued strings at the offset and together act as an introduction for a fusion of strings and synthetic layers that compliment each other creating an almost relaxing atmosphere. Throughout the score we hear symphonic and synthetic textures and colours, but these never grate or interfere with each other, instead they are seamlessly fused and wonderfully combined, each supporting and ingratiating one anther bringing greater depth and yielding even bigger atmospheres. Things begin to step up a gear or two from track number six ENTERING ENEMY TERRITORY, which has brass, percussion and so many exciting and heart stopping musical stabs, the cue is upbeat and driving and has to it a dark and sinister sound.


The same style and sounds continue in track number seven, BREAKING FREE the composer deploying low strings, percussive elements, forthright strings and awesome sounding horns that are themselves supported by various brass. The entire score is a triumph in my opinion, the composer has fashioned a commanding and mighty soundtrack, that will thrill, excite, scare and inspire. In many ways the score evoked the scoring style of Jerry Goldsmith, with inventive use of percussion and ample participation from both string, percussion and brass sections, this is highly recommended.



Released in 2007, SAY IT IN RUSSIAN is I suppose a romance with dark undertones, Jacqueline, (Faye Dunaway) is a Paris society hostess who introduces a fellow American, businessman Andrew Lamont played by Steven Brand, to a young Russian girl, Daria Larina (Agata Gotova) while he is on holiday in Europe. Andrew is fascinated by Daria just as the canny Jacqueline knew he would be. He sends Daria flowers and takes her to dinner and generally makes it quite clear that he likes her a lot. Eventually she gives into his attentions and together they go to Moscow, where Andrew meets Daria’s father Raf who was at one time involved in the Mafia, but has now become a respectable minister of internal affairs in the Russian capital. Things do not go quite as Steven and Daria have planned but I will not spoil the intriguing storyline for you. The fully symphonic score by Turkish born composer Pinar Toprak is in a word stunning. Toprak has created a beautiful and wonderfully emotive soundtrack which has delicate and gentle nuances within its running time but also contains is fair share of sinister and dissonant sounding musical passages and influences, the score has a haunting and appealing charm to it and posses a quality that is very difficult to discover these days in the world of film music. The composer utilises predominantly solo violin with a sprinkling of piano to enhance and support, then at points within the work brings the piano more to the forefront of the proceedings, strings acting as support with a tantalizing touch of woodwind adding poignancy and melancholy. Strings play a major role but are never overpowering of the solo instruments and in no way take away the solo performances light or dampen the emotion and feeling that is created by the solo violin performances in particular within certain cues. The more dramatic cues or slightly atonal pieces are certainly ominous in their overall sound and establish a feeling of uneasiness and at times infuse a mood that is filled with foreboding and tension. Toprak I think is one of the very few composers that is working in film today who is able to write such expressive and emotive music, in fact her music graces the projects she scores rather than just supporting the images and scenarios on screen and fills each and everyone of these projects with beautifully constructed themes and meticulously inspired motifs. SAY IT IN RUSSIAN is a heart warming score for the majority of its duration, fragile and subdued full of sentiment and melody and dripping in poignant and delicious musicality. The opening cue of the compact disc A GRAND AFFAIR is a perfect scene setter for the remainder of the score, as it not only contains the more plaintive and melodious aspects of the score with its lilting and haunting seven note motif but also has some the soundtracks tense and nervous sounding dramatic style within it.


These darker influences and more atonal style of scoring continues in track number two, INTRUDER IN THE HOUSE/RUNNING HOME, edgy strings and percussive elements combine to create a nervy and apprehensive sounding piece, with woodwind used sparingly as punctuation of sorts to augment the strings . With track number three HAVE DINNER WITH ME we return to the more poignant scoring with strings and woodwind again combining to purvey a more relaxed and contented atmosphere. Track number four FIRST KISS is as one can imagine romantic and full of emotion, piano acting as the central instrument performing a eloquently beautiful theme that is given more intense depth, greater elevation and substance by a heartbreaking violin solo that is discreetly supported by soft woods. Toprak also employs female solo voice which is affecting and charming. SAY IT IN RUSSIA is a score that I employ you to buy, a score that is filled to the brim with gloriously fragile and delicately melodious themes and motifs and a score that will entertain and delight each and every one of you.

Available on keep moving records.




I interviewed Pinar Toprak a few years ago now, I was taken with her versatility and also her fresh and enthusiastic attitude and approach to scoring motion pictures. Her music struck a chord with me (forgive the pun). Her compositions I thought were interesting and above all original and entertaining. I am pleased to say that her score for THE RIVER MURDERS has been released by Caldera records, and they have seen fit to give us an extra treat by including her score for SINNER on the same compact disc. THE RIVER MURDERS was released in 2011, and I always wondered why a score that was so good had not had an official release, the film too was an entertaining thriller about a serial killer which starred Ray Liotta and Christian Slater. The surprising thing about the soundtrack is that it contains just two live performances, by this I mean two solo performers, the remainder of the score is constructed and performed on synthesizer etc, but would you know this if not told of it, I doubt it. It is a credit to the artistry of the composer and her skills in the actual orchestrating or fashioning of the music and the way in which she fuses the synthetic with the actual solo performances flawlessly. The central solo instrument is cello, wonderfully performed by Tina Guo who I think we have all heard at some point.

Tina Guo
Tina Guo

She actually takes the music and lovingly purveys it via her cello giving it heart, soul, depth and substance and also via her performance adds real passion to the proceedings. The second soloist is Liz Constantine who provides the haunting vocal performance on the score. Guo’s heartfelt cello performances combine with Constantine’s unblemished vocalizing on occasion within the score to create a wondrous sound that manages to invade the listener’s inner being, the most expressive performance that showcases both the performers talent is for me track number 12, END CREDITS, where we are also treated to a celestial sounding choir. It is also Guo’s performances throughout the score that bring the whole thing together, her sorrowful and poignant sound acting as a bridge between the more dramatic and atonal sections of the score. In many ways the style of music, especially the sections written for cello, evoked memories of some of Ennio Morricone’s work for example, MOSES THE LAWGIVER, and Guo’s performance is not dissimilar in stature and quality to that of the great Dino Asciolla who is a performer that Morricone utilized on many occasions, the choral sections also reminded me of Morricone’s style for example CASULTIES OF WAR with cello weaving its magic within the vocal performances to elevate them to a higher plain, this I think is demonstrated to a greater degree within track number 2, THE FATHER,THE SON AND THE LETTER.


Of course the score does also contain a number of darker and more ominous sounding passages which are largely atmospheric but still contain some thematic properties, Toprak subtly hinting at a more serious, chilling and fearsome atmosphere, with a sprinkling of piano that is underlined by a faint but threatening background. This is a highly emotive and expressive work, and one that you will love. The compact disc also contains the composers score for the 2007 production SINNER, which is also a delight, mesmerizing violin and piano are the main stays of this work, and together and also as solo performances offer up a richness and luxuriously melancholic sound that is hauntingly beautiful. Again I am sure SINNER will delight all who listen to it. A wonderful release from Caldera containing two infectiously attractive works. Also includes a 7 minute audio of the composer talking about her career,and informative liner notes courtesy of Gergely Hubai with a number of stills from The River Murders. Please do not miss this one.


See interview with the composer.

click here to go to Caldera records.


Pinar Toprak

Pinar Toprak
Pinar Toprak

Pinar Toprak is best known for composing the film score for BEHIND ENEMY LINES II: AXIS OF EVIL and the Xbox 360 video game NINETY-NINE NIGHTS. Born in Istanbul, she began her music education at the age of five at the Istanbul State Conservatory. While at the conservatory, she studied composition, violin as well as voice and graduated with a diploma in classical guitar. In 1997, Pinar moved to Chicago and studied piano and jazz theory with many master jazz pianists. Later, Toprak completed her Bachelor’s degree in Film Scoring at the Berklee College of Music in two years and received a Master of Music degree in composition from the California State University at the age of 22. Her composing career began as a contributor at Media Ventures (now known as Remote Control Productions), home of the legendary film composer Hans Zimmer during projects such as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, THE LAST SAMURAI and KING ARTHUR.

Continue reading Pinar Toprak

The Lightkeepers

The Lightkeepers
The Lightkeepers

This is for me at least a new composer, or one who I have not come across before. Pinar was born in Istanbul, and was encouraged by her father to embrace films and music. She has scored some 25 movies during the past five years or so and the LIGHTKEEPERS was on the short list for eligible soundtracks to be nominated for an Oscar. The LIGHTKEEPERS contains a delightful score, which is low key and intimate and radiates an atmosphere and feeling that is warm and pleasing but at the same time conveys a feeling of solitude and maybe loneliness? Light and delicate for the most part this is in a word a gratifying work. The score opens with a track entitled LOST LOVE that is performed by a variety of instrumentation, the strings taking the dominant role, enhanced and supported by woods and piano. The remainder of the score is orchestrated in a similar fashion, the composer introducing Continue reading The Lightkeepers