November 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s RECOMMENDATION November 2004

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Brides Original Motion Picture Soundtrack  
Music and Lyrics by Stamatis Spanoudakis
  Vocals (songs) Ιrontina / Byzantine Chants : George P. Mpilalis, Costas P. Mpilalis / Violin : Κyriakos Gkouventas / Oud, tabor ('tampouras') : Christos Tsiamoulis / Santour : Αndrew Catsiagiannis / Accordion : Demetris Croustalakis / Cello : Μichael Porfiris / Vocals (Choir) : Yiouli Sontaki-Lamprou, Fiora Tsintzou, Helen Τzavara, Νelli Μavroeidi /
Guitars, percussion, bass, keyboards (synthesizers) and programming / instrumentation, performance, production and recording : Stamatis Spanoudakis.
  Available from Μelodiko Karavi and Sony Music ΜSTAM Studio 2004 / sscd 23
Runtime : 50.23

brides

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Track listing :

  1. Τίτλοι (Titles)
  2. Νύφες (Brides)
  3. Τουρκάλες (Turkish Women)
  4. Ο χορός του γάμου (The dance of the wedding)
  5. Κλεμμένα φιλιά (Stolen Kisses)
  6. Βάλς για την Α' θέση (Waltz for the A' Class)
  7. Μνήμες (Memories)
  8. Το τραγούδι της Χαρώς (Haro's song)
  9. Καθ' ημάς... (In our opinion...)
  10. Παραλλαγή (Variation)
  11. Στο παζάρι (At the bazaar)
  12. Για την Σμύρνη (For Smyrni)
  13. Ο χορός του καπετάνιου (Captain's dance)
  14. Πρόσωπα (Faces)

Also recommended: Gia Tin Smyrni (Stamatis Spanoudakis)

Brides is the new, 11th film directed by famous Greek Director and is produced by Martin Scorsese. Victoria Charalambidou and Damian Lewis star in the story of Niki (Charalambidou), a dressmaker from Samothraki, and the American photographer Norman (Lewis) in the summer of 1922 in Smyrni. Niki is one of the 700 'mail-order' brides who are being chosen from photos and come from every edge of Greece, Turkey, Russia and Armenia, all of who carry the picture of an unknown groom. Niki is travelling to find and marry Prodromos, a tailor but onboard ship a concealed love develops between herself and Norman, a romance against the 'do's and don't do's' of the turbulent era.

The music is composed by Stamatis Spanoudakis, his fourth collaboration with director Pantelis Voulgaris (their other 3 movies being The t-shirt with the number 9, All is a Journey and Years of Stone (Petrina Chronia)). With an astonishing group of solo musicians, the composer manages to create the perfect musical veil on which the poetic images and the touching story of love and intense romance unfold.

The score circles around two themes, largely focused on piano and the violin, supported by oud, tabor, santour, accordion, violoncello (cello), guitars, bass, percussion, synthesizers and electronic sounds as well as solo and choir vocals.

'Titles', in 4/4, B minor, opens with atmospheric improvisation from the oud, leading to a second improvisation by the magnificent violin of Kyriakos Gkouventas, taking the listener to the secondary theme, performed by a female voice with violin and cello accompaniment, together with moody synthesizers and a light playing of percussion that maintains the main rhythm. All this melody is being bound by beautiful, continuous, intermediary violin bridges, devices which are repeated frequently for the whole duration of the album. The second theme of this score holds an eastern and mysterious timbre.

One of the most splendid stand-out pieces of the score follows, 'Brides', in which the gorgeous match between Gkouventas' violin and the piano comes to a head. The main theme is being played here by the piano in a 4/4, G minor. A type of musical conversation and dialogue between the piano offers the heady and memorable main theme and the bridging passages and fillings provided by the violin results in a poignant, weeping sound.

'Turkish Women' is a choral piece (female choir) with cello and violin accompaniment and moody synthesizers who also maintain the rhythm in 8ths (8 beats per bar) along with the percussion. The whole piece is being based on the second theme and also on melodies that derive and revolve around it. This is a magnificent track which features strong Eastern musical elements (Mikrasia and Western Turkey) and its general atmosphere combined with the lyrics fit it into a specific type of long and slow Turkish love song known as 'Amanes'.

The song 'Stolen Kisses' accompanies Irontina', a talented young singer who as the composer himself writes in the cd booklet impressed and inspired him into writing songs again. The result is a simple but so beautiful song much like a sweet lullaby. The lyrics of Stamatis Spanoudakis are nostalgic and erotic. 'Haro's Song' is in similar style and Irontina sings again, this time with the guitar accompaniment chiefly and also with the santour, violin, synthesizers, percussion and the piano. The piece opens and concludes with a splendid violin motif of lively eastern colors.

'In our opinion', along with 'Brides', represents one of the most important points of the score. It bears a strong resemblance to 'Turkish Women', but with the addition of two Byzantine chanters, (George P. Mpilalis, Costas P. Mpilalis) who together with the female choir, the second theme and its two variations manage to seduce the listener into a delirium of feelings images and impressions, closely linked with Byzantine music in accordance to its sounds and chromatic intervals and also with the Macedonian Urban Song of earlier times.

'At the Bazaar' and 'For Smyrni' were originally composed for the album 'For Smyrni' although here they're being presented with an altered orchestration in accordance to the film's needs. As the composer mentions in the booklet, these tracks were so fitting, as if they had been composed for this movie, that he finally decided to include them in the score. 'For Smyrni' is one of the best and most touching pieces ever composed by Spanoudakis during his career, especially in this new incarnation.

The score reaches to an end with the song 'Faces' which is a variation of the main theme. The orchestration is similar too with the only difference being the more pompous, slower tempo and attitude of the performance. Irontina's interpretation of the passionate Stamatis' lyrics is simply shocking and this song proves the final highlight of the score.

Overall 'Brides' is surely one of the best (if not the best) of Stamatis Spanoudakis' works. Serious and mature, it's the music we have all been waiting and hoping for Stamatis to compose at this point of his long career. It's a work somewhat similar to the For Smyrni album, and its nature demands special dedication and careful hearing in order to develop and root in the listener's soul. Essential music it is, washed with brilliant, heady, dreamlike melodies that are perfectly given through a gentle mantle of Eastern, Greek and Byzantine musical elements that draws the listener into a journey of memories, sweet vivid thrills and emotions.

Demetris Christodoulides

***** 5

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