Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

September 1999 Supplement


EDITOR’S CHOICE – September (2) 1999



Luis BACALOV The Love Letter   OST  RCA Victor 09026 63521 2 [43:56]



This score is positively brilliant and enchanting.

Now, I usually ignore the directors' prattlings that appear on so many album booklets but in this case, Peter Ho-Sun Chan's words hit the nail on the head. He says -

"At first the impulse to use tango as the theme of the movie was a tough one to rationalise. How does one pair the exotic, Latin sound and the out-of-control passion of tango with the subdued serenity of an American, New England coastal town? But I've always believed that when it comes to love, there are no cultural boundaries. That's why we can make a movie scripted by a New Yorker, directed by a Chinese from Hong Kong and scored by an Italian composer who is originally from Argentina.

The Maestro, Luis Bacalov's music is so luxurious, almost sinful, almost intoxiacting, that upon hearing it, one can barely walk in a straight line. With music, he describes falling in love the way Byron described it with words…"

- some of Peter's remarks might be a bit fanciful but broadly speaking he is quite right.

Bacalov takes the tango as his starting point and weaves a tapestry of musical pictures that underline the event and emotions of the story. The opening cue 'You Graze My heart' begins tenderly and romantically with fragile material for mandolin and piano, before the music develops into a gentle tango that is both wistful and witty. It also has a subtle 'pop' seam. This cue and the following 'Mystery and Love letters' are thoroughly charming. Bacalov spins an aura of magic and mystery while creating a heart-warming, front-porch, small-town-America atmosphere. (He also subtly alludes to the popular Italian film music style of Cinema Paradiso.) Here I must interject and say that much of the success of the recording of this score must be attributed to the immaculate and expressive playing of the Orchestra di Roma and the featured players.

The mandolin and accordion lead in the lovely romantic 'The Postcard (I want to spend my life with you).' From this point, we are treated to a series of variations on the tango. The inevitable and admonitory 'beware' response to the dreams of 'The Postcard' comes with the cynical murmurings of the bassoon in 'You can't love a letter' with colour added from drums, fluttery flutes and cautioning violins. But then we have a 'wonder-of-falling-in-love' Tango in 'The Love Letter (First Time)' with witty asides from flute and bassoon while love's innocence is eloquently expressed by the piano. 'Even an orange can be dangerous' is intrigue and cartoon capers - a sort of Tom and Jerry Tango. This cue is very imaginative and very amusing with some extraordinary orchestration. 'The Picnic' is romantic Tango with violin and mandolin leading. Contorted violin figures certainly give the impression of 'Going crazy' and 'Tango Letter' is jazz/swing orientated Tango. That Italian film music influence pervades the slow dreamily romantic 'Fly, love letter, fly.'

Two pieces of source music are featured: Chet Baker performing 'I've never been in love before,' and Louis Armstrong, 'I'm in the mood for love.'

The album is rounded off with a neat (in all senses of the word) solo piano performance by the composer of the Love Letter theme.

For the unashamed romantic this is absolutely fabulous - totally delicious


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

Return to Index