November 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s CHOICE November 2002

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Gabriel YARED
Possession  
  OST
  RCA VICTOR 09026 63882 2    [67:02]
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

possession

S. Byatt's Booker-prize winning romantic novel comes to the screen with an old fashioned Late Romantic classical score by Gabriel Yared that looks back to the classical film scores of Korngold, Steiner and Rózsa (the latter most noticeable in cues like 'Let Down Your Hair

There are all the flourishes and phrasings one associates with period romantic stories but used with great flair and subtlety. The influence of Brahms is noticeable.                                                                                                                                          

The score opens most impressively with the main theme presented as an operatic aria in the grand Italian tradition, Puccini-like sung passionately by tenor Ramón Vargas.  This lovely theme is presented in various guises through the album, in the manner of a formal Viennese waltz, but with gently romantic commentary, in 'Gentle Possession'; as a Brahms-like string quartet in the cue 'Possession'; and in full poignant orchestral dress in the final cue of the same name. 

The story follows two loves: in the nineteenth century of two Victorian poets (played by Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam) who find unbridled love despite the strictures of a repressive society; and the other between the two young academics, in modern times, who are researching the lives of the poets. 

The 67 minutes score has a few longueurs as might be expected but the beauty and delicacy of the writing is undeniable.  Although most of the music is pensive, poignant, sentimental and yearning and consequently slow–moving, the colourful and varied orchestrations keep the ear attentive.  The pastoral qualities of tracks like 'Maud and Roland in North Yorkshire' and 'Let Down Your Hair' remind one of Ralph Vaughan Williams writing in this vein.  For, I imagine, some of the darker moments, Yared falls back on some of his staccato sting chord figures from 'The Talented Mr Ripley.  There is an intriguing eeriness about 'Christabel's Room' a concealing mistiness about 'Dolly Hides a Secret' that hints on an unwelcome pregnancy, a harshness about 'Exile in Brittany' and mounting anticipation and release as the defiant statement of the main theme in 'Renewed Correspondence'; and a beautiful Brahmsian delicacy for 'You Have a Daughter'.

In a particularly fallow year for new film music, this old-fashioned romantic score is very welcome.  Yared gets better and better 

Ian Lace

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