Latest reviews of new albums:
Grand Piano
  • Composed by Victor Reyes
  • MovieScore Media / 2014 / 32m

A Hitchcockian thriller, Grand Piano stars Elijah Wood as a concert pianist who returns to the stage after years of ridicule following a failed performance after terrible stage fright, starts playing a new concerto, only to find a note attached to the music to tell him that a sniper’s rifle is trained on him and should he fluff a note or stop playing, he will be shot.  The film wasn’t received all that well, but one aspect of considerable note is its original score by Victor Reyes.  The five-track album is bookended by a couple of relatively brief (but memorable) pieces.  The opening title piece is the only thing on the album that sounds like film music – it starts off like a more contemporary version of Ennio Morricone’s famous aggressive opening to The Untouchables, stabbing staccato notes on (what else?) the piano taking the lead.  The closing “La Cinquette” (co-composed by Reyes and Eugenio Mira) is an incredibly technically challenging piece (it is intended to sound very difficult to play – indeed, the film claims it is unplayable, though the fact that it’s here on the album suggests otherwise) – and is very impressive, almost unbelievably frenetic.

The centrepiece of the score and album and indeed film is the three-movement 27-minute concerto penned by Reyes – the one Wood’s character has to play in the film.  Of course, one has to mention that there is a large degree of pastiche here – Rachmaninov sprung to my mind, but I’m sure less ignorant people will be more accurate – but that doesn’t detract from the quality of the music, in turns romantic, dramatic, intense.  The thing is, the music isn’t just serving as the performance piece – it’s serving as dramatic underscore.  It twists and turns along with the film, on the journey with the character while at the same time serving perfectly as a piece of absolute music, a believable piano concerto.  And it’s incredibly enjoyable: sweeping, flamboyant, beautifully played.  This is some achievement by Victor Reyes who is to be congratulated for making it work so well.  Grand Piano is an essential purchase.

Rating: ***** | |

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Wednesday 12 March, 2014 at 19:38

    It may by unplayable by one person with only two hands, as bits in Young’s Drag Me to Hell were said to be.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Wednesday 12 March, 2014 at 19:39

    It’s very rude to ignore all those three-handed people, I think.

  3. Jens (Reply) on Thursday 13 March, 2014 at 18:02

    We do have one other appendage that could be employed in the playing of this piece…

  4. mastadge (Reply) on Friday 14 March, 2014 at 00:30

    The forehead?