Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Music composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Anne Dudley.

24 Tracks (Playing Time = 53:20)

Music produced by Anne Dudley and Roger Dudley. Orchestra recorded at Angel Studios, London. Engineered by Roger Dudley, Steve Price, and Gary Thomas. Music edited by Sophie Cornet.

Varese Sarabande 302 066 713 2

Rating: ***

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE essentially marks the return to film composing for Anne Dudley. It has been almost three years since she has written a film score. Those scores she has provided have been mostly for shorts, or for European films. One has to go back to 2001’s MONKEYBONE for her last foray into a film that reached American screens. While listening to Anne, her latest score, for one, is struck by the way she all but generally avoids electronics to create her varied atmospheric sounds. The score is shaped through subtle hints of mood, though tending towards the tragic, and interesting thematic ideas that follow one another throughout the music from one track to the next.

The CD opens with “Young Tristan” featuring a poignant solo violin line beautifully performed by Julian Leaper which allows the listener a chance to hear a thematic idea that will recur throughout the score. This idea goes through several transformations but always feels anchored in its identity with the violin. As the CD progresses one senses it in other guises as well. Celtic instruments lend the music a little flavor and often Dudley’s thematic ideas are recessed deeply in the fabric of her music when these sounds are brought into the foreground. “ Different Land” and “The Tournament” are tracks where nice Celtic-flavored orchestral music is colored with a Neo-Renaissance feel. These tracks blend freely with those of ones which lend themselves to a specific melancholy feeling, or an occasional action set-piece. “Ambush in the Forest” is one of several action tracks. It is scored for brass that have an almost Conan-like sound with Stravinskian string punctuations and more jagged string writing. If one pays close attention to the score as it unfolds, it holds a wealth of wonderful lyric ideas and the interest comes in the way Dudley weaves them throughout her textures. A piano line (perhaps Isolde’s music), often quite simple, appears throughout to provide a kind of subtle joy in the midst of the sadness that seems to encapsulate the story. Lush string writing is used reservedly but when it does appear it provides a real momentary emotional release. “Secrets in the Woods” comes towards the end of the disc and manages to pull together the two primary thematic ideas sometimes overtly. But listen carefully to the motivic ideas that flow in and out of this track and you will get a better sense of how these ideas can be discovered through careful listening earlier in the disc.

The recording, made at Angel Studios, London, has a more traditional orchestral feel with a much warmer acoustic and solo lines often mixed artificially higher. The effect throughout is quite captivating. There is little or nothing to the cover booklet but if you like you can gaze at the warm semi-nude glossy photograph of the young lovers that is revealed when the CD is removed.


-- Steven A. Kennedy, 29 March 2006

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