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Effective horror score from Spanish composer chills, thrills
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Alfons Conde; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A Spanish/Russian co-production, The Abandoned is about a woman who goes in search of her parents in remote Russia and comes across an old house... where all sorts of strange things happen. It's another obscure horror film where MovieScore Media's Mikael Carlsson has somehow unearthed an orchestral score by a little-known composer, and released it on his label - I imagine it must be a big risk for him, since these films (and indeed usually their composers) are so obscure, but he has brought out a few gems over the past couple of years so I hope it can keep on happening!
Perhaps The Abandoned isn't quite a "gem" but it's high-quality, well-composed music which sounds like it would be hugely effective in the film. It's mostly of the dark and brooding kind of horror score, but occasionally bursts into more obvious thrills, and inevitably it is those moments which play finest on album. Spanish composer Alfons Conde's opening title piece is one of the best - orchestra and choir combining for one of those pieces which manage somehow to be both beautiful and full to the brim with impending doom. Elegant and deft, it certainly shows off a talented composer.
The following cues are more "standard" horror movie fare, realised with great skill, and very easy to appreciate, but given how often this kind of agitated string writing interlaced with brass outbursts has been done before, it would have to be truly extraordinary to stand out from the crowd, and good though it is, it doesn't do that. "Olga's Murder" is the first of the really aggressive, almot oppressive pieces, and it certainly does stand out - it's impressive stuff. It's followed by "The Journey", the score's most expressively melodic piece, with a sweeping statement from the strings ushering in a charming piece.
The explosive "Kitchen Reconstruction" might be the score's finest piece, the orchestra creating a veritable cacophony of terror. It's great stuff, quite tremendously exciting. The finale, "Marie's Death", is another good piece - rumbling timpani introduce the track, before being joined by choir and the orchestra going for all its worth. Again it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's done so well it doesn't particularly matter.
The score is just over half an hour long, and there are two bonus pieces of recordings of two of Conde's concert works, "Adagio: Colour of Time", a romantic work for strings, and "Fireworks Overture", an energetic and celebratory piece. These show a different side to Conde, but impressively, even though this is the first of his music that I've heard, you can certainly tell that all the music on this album is by the same composer. While The Abandoned perhaps doesn't do anything so outstanding it will be distinguished from the great mass of similar horror scores, at the same time it is evidently the work of a talented composer, and the three or four tracks I highlighted above are fantastic, so I look forward to his future work with anticipation.