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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)





  Special Merit 


Music by Philip Glass

20 Tracks (Playing Time = 50:49)


Produced by Philip Glass. Conducted by Michael Riesman. Assistant conductor: Nico Muhly. Score preparation: Trevor Gureckis and Vic Fraser. Recorded at Air Studios, London. Recording Enginer: Chris Dibble. Mixed by Michael Riesman at The Looking Glass Studios, New York. Engineers: Dan Bora and Ichiho Nishiki.

Rounder CD 11661-9074-2

Rating: ****

For those who have heard the music of Philip Glass and fear that is just more of those repeated patterns, you will be surprised that there are also many subtle and dramatic segments to his film score for NOTES ON A SCANDAL. He composed another exceptional score in 2006 for THE ILLUSIONIST.

This film score has moments of quiet solitude and also moments of high drama. The soundtrack sets the stage with the first track, "First Days of School" (2:42), with a rather ominous dark sounding theme with the trademark Glass swirling arpeggios in what is called his minimalist style, but that is a misleading term. There is actually a lot more going on than just the repeated melodic-harmonic patterns. For example, on the fifth track: "Discovery" (3:01), with its shifting of instrumental colors to strongly reinforce the deed that takes this story to another level. In the next track, "Confession" (1:45), the underlying bass throbs rapidly like a nervous heartbeat, while above it the strings make occasional appearances, like a mind contemplating the consequences.

The highpoint of this score is track 16, "Betrayal" (3:43), which begins with a solo oboe and darker strings and then introduces effective drum bursts as if to add exclamation points to the intensity of this cue. It's a highly effective emotional cue.

Much of the score is of a quieter nature and so the lower volume level works just fine. No big bloated sound is needed here.

The CD booklet has a rather striking cover with just the faces of the two women characters. Inside are a series of film shots and brief comments by the director, Richard Eyre, and also Philip Glass who writes:

"The score essentially is about Barbara [Judi Dench]. In begins with Barbara and it ends with Barbara...I think the arc of the score helps to articulate the arc of the story itself."

This soundtrack reinforces Barbara's feelings quite well, as well as other dramatic moments in the film.

The music by Glass is like another character in NOTES ON A SCANDAL. His film score reflects darkly on the two main women characters, convincingly played by Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

The soundtrack is beautifully performed and well produced.

I believe this is the best film score by Philip Glass since THE HOURS.


-- Roger Hall, 22 January 2007

Comments regarding this review can be sent to: FMR

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