The newly started Swedish record company
MovieScore Media has during its few months in business done a great job in
introducing film music works from smaller films by lesser well-known composers
– already have seven composers that I for one had earlier never heard of been
introduced. The seventh release in their catalogue is the score for the
intimate ensemble drama The Sisters (based on Chekov’s novel), composed
by Jerry Goldsmith student Thomas Morse.
is a pleasant, sometimes moving and often melancholic score. Morse’s score is
driven mainly by strings, with prominent piano, harp and woodwind solos. It
moves slowly through the lower territories of the orchestra, creating a dark
and sombre mood for the most part. This quite melancholic mood stays for the
whole score; never does the music really burst out in any lighter territories
of ‘happier’ music – the music is no less beautiful for the consistent mood.
The music is clearly based on a number of themes, but I must admit I am having
difficulties picking out specific themes, and I find that none of them really
stays in my mind. There is a certain ‘minor theme’ feel to much of this
thematic material – themes that don’t really stand out.
But music is not all about themes. And The
Sisters is a very beautiful score throughout, especially when the flute,
clarinet or oboe emerges with a beautiful melody from sombre strings, sometimes
with piano or harp in the background. The duet between harp and clarinet in
‘I’m not going’ is excellent, as is the interplay between woodwind solos, harp
and strings in ‘Back to Charleston’. The moments of notable solo writing – the
piano at the end of ‘Vincent Leaves’ for example - comprise the greatest
strength of the score. The interaction of various solo instruments and strings
are sometimes quite exquisite and quite moving (‘The Wedding’, for example).
But while the weave of strings that form the base of this score is beautiful
and soothing it is not very complex. I find that I miss some more intricate
writing, harmonically as well as rhythmically – but especially rhythmically.
Morse’s string harmonies move slowly, long notes flowing from track to track,
like a calm breeze.
The highly dramatic ‘The Crash’ stands out
–as close to a gush of wind as this score offers. It opens with a low string
melody, punctuated by low piano and plucked strings, followed by a lyrical
piano theme. Unsettling high tremolando strings slowly growing louder in the
background, until they overshadow the piano and the dark mood of the opening
returns leading to one of the few more majestic moments of the score where the
strings are allowed to soar. This piece is one of the few standout tracks in
this score, which otherwise mainly is a weave of sombre string writing and
beautiful woodwind solos that slowly moves forward without any extraordinary
It carries on, beautiful all the time, but
almost never especially outstanding. I find when listening to it that I never
notice when tracks begin or end, since they are all so similar in construction.
Sometimes the whole score passes by without me having listened especially
closely to anything – often I lose the interest in listening actively after a
few tracks because of the consistent mood. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
As a listening experience, it is a soothing treat for the ears and fits
excellently for that moment of relaxation we all crave now and then. With
stronger, more instantly recognisable thematic material, The Sisters
could have been a more interesting score. More complex string writing at times
might have been to the score’s benefit as well. But it should be clear: even if
I found myself drifting away from the music in my thoughts, it’s never
unmelodic and uninteresting. It demands very little of its listener, which is
both a gift and a curse. It is easy to enjoy, but hard to be truly taken by.
This is a very fine release from MovieScore
Media, a beautiful, pleasant score that demands very little of its listener.
Considering its sombre beauty, the qualities of its solo writing, and the
relatively low retail price of these internet-only releases, I recommend it. It
is a genuinely relaxing experience.