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Marco Beltrami: Music for Film
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Silva Screen / 68m

The annual Gent Film Festival in Belgium always has a heavy film music presence, including the World Soundtrack Awards and concerts, and in the last few years has produced a studio-recorded album of suites and themes from one of the main guests – this year it’s Marco Beltrami.

Beltrami came to prominence as a film composer at what might be considered the tail end of the “silver age”, as the era of dominance of all those great composers who emerged in the 1960s was coming to a close and the Hans Zimmer era was really taking off. He’s one of the few prominent film composers to have emerged around that time and been consistently working on high-profile films who doesn’t have anything in common at all with the Zimmer sound which has inspired so many of today’s composers.

Marco Beltrami

It was Wes Craven’s Scream that really announced his presence and so it’s appropriate that a suite from that score opens this album. It features some of the score’s scary music sandwiching the gorgeous theme for Sidney. Following this comes a good suite from one of this finest scores, Hellboy, opening with the brilliantly-pitched main theme which was so perfect for the character before moving into gothic horror territory.

Frantic action music dominates the suite from World War Z – tight, sometimes oppressive – but there’s also time for a rare emotional moment from the score with the mournful, powerful theme. After the suite comes a separate individual piece from the score, “Chasing the Tail”, a brilliantly frantic piece of action music.

The lengthy suite from Snowpiercer (eleven minutes) is exceptional. The main theme is one of the composer’s best – lonely but beautiful, gathering real power as it progresses, and opening this suite performed by wordless soprano. The relentless sense of forward motion (of the film’s train) it picks up as it goes is so impressive. We move from there into the score’s brilliant piece for solo violin and orchestra – elegant, classically beautiful, again building up to a spectacularly dynamic finale, it’s Beltrami at his very best.

A different side of the composer is heard in the suite from The Homesman, which starts with the score’s sweet, lovely main theme first on piano and then strings. After that – surprisingly – we move to some of the wind sounds which were famously featured in the score, and then to some much more difficult, brutal sounds with some earthy action music before we return again to bucolic beauty.

Not only had I not heard The Drop before this album (which present’s the score’s “end cue”, as it’s called) – I must confess I had never even heard of it. It’s a gently touching piece, full of melancholy. I’d certainly heard of what follows – Gods of Egypt – the film may already be forgotten but the score lives on as one of the composer’s very best and this lengthy suite certainly does it justice, with the rousing old-fashioned main theme and (very satisfying) the great action track “Snakes on a Plain” – and plenty more besides. It’s spectacular.

The album closes with music from two more recent projects. A Quiet Place‘s quietly touching theme comes from a sensitive, impressive score which showed the composer knows just as much about how to stay out of the way as he does about pitching things just right when he’s needed; and Free Solo is represented by “Final Climb”, a moving and emotional piece which serves as the perfect finale to this album.

This is a terrific compilation: you can tell how much effort has gone in to make it into a cohesive listen from start to finish and not the “sequence of good tracks” approach that is often the case with these things and can be disjointed. For this reason, one can forgive the absence of some of the composer’s best music (including my favourite, 3:10 to Yuma) and just wallow in the brilliance of what is here. It would be quite a thing to attend the concert itself, but for those who don’t aren’t fortunate enough to have the means to do so, enjoy instead this wonderful album, which offers an intelligently-arranged journey through a fine composer’s career. The performance by the Brussels Philharmonic under the redoubtable Dirk Brossé is faultless. This is probably the film music album of 2019 so far.

Rating: ***** | |

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Saturday 12 October, 2019 at 18:27

    I can’t wait until my copy arrives! I always welcome new projects like this and Fernando Velázquez’s Concert Suites from Quartet.

    Honestly these days I’ll often get more excited about a thoughtful new recording of existing music like this than I will about most new releases!