- Composed by Alexandre Desplat
- Abkco / 2014 / 60m
Wes Anderson’s latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, has polarised opinion the way his films usually do; this time, the quirky farce follows the adventures of a concierge and lobby boy at an opulent old European hotel. This is the third Anderson film to be scored by Alexandre Desplat and the composer has established something of a signature sound for the director – lots of light, quirky charm, lots of plucked and struck instruments. The fictional middle or eastern-European country in which the film is set gets a wonderful accompaniment drawn from the music of several countries in that region – zither, cimbalom and balalaika amongst the most recognisable. Desplat’s score consists mostly of short cues which draw upon a fairly small thematic pool and is almost constantly playful. Much like the film, I can imagine that it will irritate as many people as it delights; I am firmly in the “delighted” category.
The brilliant main theme (introduced in “Mr Moustafa”) is so fluid and so full of comic charm, it breezes over the listener like a welcome light wisp on a warm summer’s day. Occasionally Desplat indulges in more overt comedy or melodrama (the dramatic organ dirge of “Last Will and Testament” is unexpectedly delightful, the dynamic rhythm of “Daylight Express to Lutz” reminds me of some of Ennio Morricone’s playful comedy music – think Il Gatto in particular). It flows so beautifully – the brief length of most of the cues could be a recipe for disaster (at least in terms of soundtrack album experience) in the hands of a less skilled composer, but Desplat keeps things moving so fluidly, you never really even notice; you also don’t notice the panoply of source music as sticking out (Russian dances, an extract from Vivaldi’s concerto for lute and plucked strings, even a yodel) – it blends so seamlessly with the composer’s original score, this is one of those rare score-and-source albums where nobody should programme out the source. While the music may feel like a relatively light meal compared with Desplat’s more usual banquets, it’s so perfectly judged it’s actually very fulfilling and if you’re one of the people it catches, you’ll find yourself frequently returning for more.