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The Wind Gods
  • Composed by Pinar Toprak
  • Caldera / 2015 / 51m

A 2011 documentary, The Wind Gods chronicles the attempt by Larry Ellison to win the America’s Cup, the famous yachting race.  The score by Pinar Toprak received some attention at the time from those who heard a promotional version she prepared (and those who saw the film) and can now find a much-deserved wider audience thanks to this release by Caldera.  With appropriately choppy strings and brass evoking the spirit of the sea, the main theme is presented in the titular opening cue.  A soaring melody, it’s full of drive and purpose and above all adventure and spirit, a beautiful piece not unlike those you hear in the famous inspirational sports movie scores.  The theme isn’t ever-present but that spirit is, and the composer pushes it even further in the lengthy second cue, “First Race 1851” – it’s modern orchestral film music but with a timeless quality to it that’s very appealing.  That track also introduces real action music, which is energetic and vibrant and exciting.  There’s a secondary theme introduced in “The Best Man to Steer the Boat” which has a touch of Thomas Newman about it: with some sublime writing for solo winds, it’s really rather exquisite.

There’s a particularly warm and lovely, wistful nostalgia that appears from time to time, most fully at first perhaps in “Childhood”.  A sense of patriotism runs through it, too – the film is after all concerned with attempts to reclaim the America’s Cup for America – and the middle section of the album (when it is at its most Newmanesque) explores that sound in great depth.  There’s a gorgeous Americana introduced in “The America’s Cup is America’s Again” with a gentle guitar and some drums accompanying the strings and winds (and another new, completely lovely melody).  It’s not all brightness and light though – “The Final Race” (which appears in the middle of the album) is not the barnstormer you might expect from the title; and the final couple of cues are actually rather sombre affairs.  But just before them is the score’s real pièce de résistance – a twelve-minute cue imaginatively titled “The 12 Minute Cue”, it runs through the whole gamut of emotions and is an exhilarating ride.  The Wind Gods is excellent music, large-scale and rousing and frequently very attractive.

Rating: **** | |

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