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Tulip Fever
  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • Sony Classical / 2017 / 43m

Set in Amsterdam in the 17th century, Tulip Fever tells the story of a painter who falls in love with the married woman whose portrait he is commissioned to paint.  Filmed in the summer of 2014, the film’s release has been postponed numerous times, most recently just a week before its scheduled release in February.  Danny Elfman’s score was actually released – extremely briefly – by Sony Classical before it too was pushed back to the new release date, now scheduled to be August (it’s still available in some countries).  It sees Elfman at his most classical, with echoes of the pastoral charm of Sommersby and Black Beauty but updated to his much more modern sound.  “Sophie’s Theme” is a hypnotic, mesmerising piece, let down by not having a particularly memorable tune; but it’s mature, elegant, charming.

The body of the score is generally a little lighter, with obvious influence at times coming from Alexandre Desplat (who was launched to film music fame when he scored another film set in the 17th century Netherlands about a woman in a portrait).  The string writing is rich and there is a dramatic urgency to the music which is usually quite compelling, though when it unexpectedly turns into something very modern in “Nailed” it seems rather misplaced.  Still, I love the extremely fluid feel to the score – it just dances around, so sprightly, in some ways a bit like Elfman’s music for the concert hall.  “Maria’s Theme” is where it calms down, and that’s beautiful too – again it would benefit from a more memorable melody, but it’s still lovely.  There’s a great catharsis in “The Grand Finale”, which doesn’t have the power of the composer’s other track of that name, but still packs a punch.  This is a nice album, not top-tier Elfman but very satisfying.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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  1. Liz (Reply) on Thursday 27 April, 2017 at 00:26

    I love the violin score from the first Tulip Fever trailer. Is it available on the soundtrack?