A young American publisher heads off to the jungles of Venezuela in search of the manuscripts of poet Jeffery Aspern. He meets an old lover of Aspern’s who he believes holds the dead poet’s papers. Adapted from a novella by Henry James, The Aspern Papers marks the feature film debut of director Mariana Hellmund. A story that examines the issues raised when a biographer pries into the private life of their subject, Hellmund asks composer Alexander Lasarenko to compose a score that adds emotional depth to the story. Composed primarily for piano and acoustic guitar, and featuring additional colours from a small string ensemble and light percussion (hand drums), Lasarenko’s score is based around achingly beautiful melody that is heard in a number of variations throughout the score.
The album begins with “The Aspern Papers Theme” which states the score’s theme in full. We first we hear a piano establishing a repeating motif over which the theme proper is heard. This first statement of the theme has a sense of sadness and regret associated with it. This feeling is suggested partly by Lasarenko’s theme being played on solo strings and recorded as a piece of source music from the dilapidated Venezuelan hacienda where the majority of the film is set. As the cue progresses, the theme is taken over by a string ensemble and a percussion rhythm (establishing further the film’s location). Lasarenko uses the theme in various ways to suggest different key moments in the film: solo piano plays the theme against sustained string ensemble lines in “Juliana’s Deathbed” reflecting the life ebbing away from Juliana, Jeffery Aspern’s lover. And a halting statement of the theme on solo piano in the track “Juliana Bourdereau’s Gone” suggests the sadness of the loss of Juliana, perhaps the last link to Aspern (the person and his personal effects)? Read the rest of this entry »