November 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Lover's Prayer
 OST The London Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer.
  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

Lover's Prayer is based on Ivan Turgenev's novel First Love and The Peasant Woman by Anton Chekhov. It is set in 1800s Russia and it tells the story of an innocent rich boy's infatuation with a beautiful young woman who is summering next door. This teenage boy's prayers are answered when he finally meets the princess he has worshipped from afar. His obsession turns to despair when he discovers that her secret lover is his own father.

McNeely delivers a lovely, radiantly romantic score, tender and delicate with melodic music that reflects the innocence of the boy and the elegance of his class and the period setting. The opening Main Title, full of feminine grace, sets the mood of romantic yearning and languor. 'Reunion' begins in a flurry of romantic excitement and tenderness but there is also a feeling of chilly remoteness and loneliness too. 'We shall be friends' beginning with harp and string quartet before the orchestra enters is formal and coy, a dialogue between shyness and yearning and restrained romantic flirting.

'Suitor's Dance' has faster moving music in a predominantly slow moving score. This glittering little cue presents dance music of a rather stiff and formal nature with trumpets giving the steps a quasi-military feel before the music turns to a vivacious mazurka. 'Dennis and Mashenka' returns to pensive dreaming with something of the styles of Vaughan Williams and Finzi. 'Death and the Maiden' is another remarkable cue more racy and agitated and anxious, its shadows are heavy indeed. 'Jealousy' has much Russian angst indeed the opening cello dominated material reminds one of Tchaikovsky in particularly sombre mood and there are many orchestral tremors and sighs. 'The Pond' with its haunting oboe and cor anglais solos and tremolando strings over solo guitar seems to suggest some enchantment, another outstanding imaginative cue. 'Goodbye', 'Zanaida Again' and 'Redemption, Retribution' reprise material and add dramatic overtones. End Credits music is prayer-like and gushingly romantic for the ladies as they reach for their Kleenex. The bonus is, 'Nocturne', a lovely piano solo by Clifford Benson based on the main themes. An unashamedly romantic wallow and a welcome change from all the usual bang and crash.

Ian Lace


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