Latest reviews of new albums:
Broken Keys
  • Composed by Gabriel Yared

A pianist has to flee his home town after it is taken over by ISIS who ban all music in Broken Keys, a Lebanese film. In the process his piano is shot and he literally has to repair the broken keys, amid great danger. Gabriel Yared was born in Lebanon himself and his thoughtful score straddles two distinct styles – there’s light, classically-styled beautiful pieces (very much recalling The English Patient in style) contrasting with some urgent, much more modern material for the action and more intense dramatic moments. Some of the transitions between these styles can be a little jarring, but Yared generally handles it deftly; it should come as no surprise however that I much prefer it when he remains in the former style – his bread and butter – and offers some of his trademark melancholic beauty.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is generally not piano-based (I suppose the keys are, after all, broken) but instead we are treated to a succession of warm solos from wind instruments, with gentle accompaniment from a small orchestra. At times – in particular, the first couple of cues – this is pure warmth – but as the score develops, Yared tends to keep the solo melody line playing something very attractive but balances this with a much more emotionally-layered harmonic layer underneath, revealing much anxiety and hints of darkness. A pair of cues in the middle of the album are really outstanding – in particular “Piano Discovery”, with a series of exquisite solos (including a distant female vocal) which really tug at the heartstrings. “Piano Tuning” too is very impressive – there’s a real sadness in its opening sections before a summery warmth emerges, gradually leading to an arrangement of perhaps the most famous classical melody of all. When the piano does get a chance to shine, in the delightful “Shop Opening”, it’s in a joyous, dance-like piece which is another highlight. While the more intense moments of modern suspense music may be something of an acquired taste, otherwise Yared’s trademark deftness-of-touch produces a relatively brief album that is really very easy to recommend. It’s delicate to the point of appearing wafer-thin at times, but there is no doubting its dramatic potency, nor its beautiful melodies.

Rating: **** | |

Tags: ,

  1. Marco (Reply) on Tuesday 19 April, 2022 at 17:33

    Some “smaller” score reviews, I see. Interesting.