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Hemingway & Gellhorn
  • Composed by Javier Navarrete
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2012 / 52:28

Charting the passionate, tumultuous romance between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, the HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn stars Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, is directed by Philip Kaufman and won plenty of admirers (and a couple of Emmys).  One of the Emmys was – deservedly – awarded to composer Javier Navarrete, whose colourful score is a real boon.  The brief “Real Honeymoon” opens the album – it’s a deceptively laid back theme, with more than a hint of Morricone about it, that’s quite beautiful.  But there is nothing laid back about the majority of the music, which is full of Spanish flair (the literary couple met while covering the Spanish Civil War together) and has an irresistibly epic sweep to it.

There is plenty of adventure here – and the slightly odd, slightly Maurice Jarre-like “The Joy of Irrigation” is a hugely enjoyable romp – but romance is at the heart of everything.  The main love theme is actually adapted from the Spanish Civil War song “Ay Carmela” (which also receives a couple of vocal performances); it’s not a Navarrete composition, and it dominates the score, but it’s such a gorgeous melody (and worked seamlessly in alongside the original music).  The other main theme has just as much spirit and is also heard in numerous guises.  I love the instrumentation – the beautiful guitar solos, also when they integrate with the strings (listen to “This Is What I Need” and find your heart melted).  In its second half – as the film moves away from Spain – the score also takes on a more global (and often, considerably darker) feel.  “Finland” has the requisite hint of Sibelius before things travel a long way east in “China” and “Sampan”, a darkly dramatic piece, though not so much as the later “Dachau”, with its avant garde choir.  Alongside about half an hour of Navarrete’s score is roughly the same amount of source music and songs – it all makes for a great album, varied and rich and rewarding.  Definitely one to consider.  **** |

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