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Soundtrack Review

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Early Works


Composer: Abel Korzeniowski
Label: Caldera Records
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4 260352 760137
Release Date: 15 February 2016

Caldera Records have put together a two CD set of some of the early work of Polish born musician Abel Korzeniowski. This collection offers highlights of some of his compositions for stage plays in his home country. This album gives his fans the chance to hear his scores for I Served the King of England (2003), The Odyssey (2005), Kafka (2001), Antigone (1996) and The Tempest (2003)...

Fans of Abel Korzeniowski (Penny Dreadful; A Single Man) will relish the chance to hear some of his early projects and this selection acts as a showpiece to illustrate how varied the man's work is. Korezeniowski, as this album wonderfully illustrates, can conjure up almost any emotion, not to mention any style, effortlessly.

I'm a huge fan of the work of the late John Barry, but even I'll admit that most of his scores sounded identical. Take Dances with Wolves and you'll spot pieces that appear to have been adapted from his earlier work on High Road to China and Out of Africa. His style was simple but it was incredible. Korezeniowski, on the other hand, approaches each project and delivers something very different to what he's touched on before. Listening to the very different styles on this album instantly gives you an appreciation for how he's not simply doing this for a job; the man lives and breathes each project. This is very much an art form.

I defy anyone to listen to this album and not appreciate how versatile and talented the composer is. Even if you don't particularly warm to some of the tracks, you can at least appreciate what he is doing. I loved every project here - but each for very different reasons.

I Served the King of England employs the use of a hammered dulcimer and accordion in an attempt to evoke in the listener the sound of Eastern Europe. What I really loved about this work is that the approach is so different. It would have been so easy to tackle the 'Tango' in so many cliched ways, but what we have is a segment of music that feels familiar, while fresh at the same time. 'Slava' feels like the sort of music Michael Nyman could have been writing if he truly loved his art rather than bashing out the same old themes time and time again.

The Odyssey gives a flavour of ancient Greek music mixed with modern Western influences, using traditional as well as medieval instruments. 'Circe' reminded me (more because of the instrumental choices than the actual tune) of Trevor Jones's score for The Dark Crystal. I listen and review a lot of horror scores, but nowhere have I heard anything as truly frightening as 'The Cows of Helios'. The mental images this conjures up probably says more about me than anything but, in a brief piece of music, Korzeniowski has managed to do what so many composers fail to do: deliver a truly original and terrifying composition.

Kafka is quirky, while being surprisingly sorrowful and dark at times. In fact I wondered if this project had been used to deliberately play with an audiences senses. It opens with 'Memoirs', a track that is slow and plodding (not to mention painfully beautiful) but as the music progresses the slow and plodding feel is still there, but mixed with a strong sense of urgency - a need to rush for something. Likewise, 'Dance Obscene' has two different feelings vying for attention. It's a tongue in cheek track that on the one hand appears flippant, while on the other it's incredibly serious.

Antigone is another experimental project, like Kafka. The music is written for choir and incorporates unusual harmonies, counterpoints and motifs which are not obvious at first. Again, like Kafka, Korzeniowski messes with our senses. 'Stasimon I' is very uncomfortable to listen to in places, whilst being very nurturing and familiar in other segments. 'Stasimon II' is another truly frightening composition - conjuring up the stuff of nightmares.

The Tempest is where most people will feel at home. It's more accessible, being most akin to classical compositions than the other works in this collection. 'Song of Time' is one of this album's most beautifully delivered tracks.

The collection contains 32 tracks (1 hr, 48 min, 07 sec). The album also includes a booklet which sets the scene for each project as well as giving some of Korezeniowski's thoughts on it. In addition, there's a url link printed that allows you to go online and listen to a lengthy (22 min, 04 sec) interview with Korezeniowski. As usual, as with the majority of Caldera Records releases, this offers an interesting insight into the composers creative process.

Whether you're a fan of the composer, or just a lover of classical music or scores in general, there really is no excuse for not having this wonderfully produced album in your collection.

Track listing:

CD 1

I Served the King of England
01 - 'Danube River'
02 - 'Dumka'
03 - 'Tango'
04 - 'Cenacle'
05 - 'Slava'

The Odyssey
06 - 'Odysseus’ Theme'
07 - 'Athena'
08 - 'Circe'
09 - 'Maenads'
10 - 'The Cows of Helios
11 - 'Penelope’s Theme'
12 - 'SirenS'
13 - 'Orgy'
14 - 'The Trojans'

CD 2

01 - 'Memoirs'
02 - 'Dance Obscene'
03 - 'Amalia'
04 - 'Intermezzo'

05 - 'Stasimon I'
06 - 'Stasimon II'
07 - 'Stasimon III'
08 - 'Stasimon V'

The Tempest
09 - 'Song of Time'
10 - 'Dance of Tempest'
11 - 'Arliel’s Dance'
12 - 'Ding-Dong'
13 - 'Ariel’s Tears'
14 - 'Song of Light'
15 - 'Dance of Fertility'
16 - 'Dance of Love'
17 - 'Love Theme'
18 - 'Song of Time II'

19 - ' Bonus: Interview with Abel Korzeniowski'


Darren Rea