- Composed by Dario Marianelli
- Lakeshore Records / 2012 / 42:08
Director Lasse Hallström’s career has fallen away quite a bit following his successes in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but by most accounts he is back on form with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a light drama based on Paul Torday’s book about a Yemeni Sheik who commissions a British government official to bring fly fishing to his country. The score is by Dario Marianelli and is typical of the music heard in this director’s films – mostly on the lightweight side, but full of charm, forever with a smile on its face and ultimately very appealing. Specifically, it brings to mind Rachel Portman’s music for the director but with just that bit of an edge to it on occasion that she would likely not have brought. Marianelli introduces his lovely main theme in the Prologue, a fine piece which sets the tone of what is to come. The score is performed by a full orchestra (the BBC Concert Orchestra) but there are prominent roles for soloists, with Marianelli himself playing the piano parts which dominate a number of cues.
The highlight of those sections is probably the tragic “A Turn for the Worse”, a gorgeous piece which might be a bit overly sentimental for some, but not for me. An interesting feature of the score is the ethnic music – not just for the Middle East, but also for Scotland (the main character is Scottish, you see) with Marianelli sometimes combining elements of both musical cultures (in a very sanitised way, of course). “To the Yemen” is possibly the strongest track in the score, with lilting celtic sections mixing with Arabia (represented by the oud and some creative guitar playing) and some straightforward orchestral drama. It’s strong stuff. The faint whiff of darkness which runs through much of the album’s middle section is what elevates it above the norm, and while there is no theme here which is as memorable as Rachel Portman wrote for this director’s films, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable album which will, I imagine, have a very broad appeal. “Disaster” is an extremely moving piece – the feeling here patently genuine, the tone serious. But it is the unabashed enthusiasm of the most exuberant passages (“Inspirational Sheikh”, “Salmon Fishing”, “Happy Ending”) that really make this just about impossible to dislike. ****