Posted by Alan Rogers on December 7, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers
French novelist Philippe Adam’s 2004 novel Canal Tamagawa is a story that recounts the last days of Japanese writer Osamu Dazai, who after a series of previous attempts, committed suicide in 1948, drowning after throwing himself into Tokyo’s rain-swollen Tamagawa canal. At the time of the book’s release a CD that featured a musical version of the book was included. The work consisted of poetry, the spoken word and music composed by French minimalist composer Fabrice Ravel-Chapuis. Written for violin, cello and piano Ravel-Chapuis’ music was released as a stand-alone album in 2011.
Ravel-Chapuis’ score for Canal Tamagawa reminds me very much of Pierre Oser’s score for the silent film, Die Leuchte Asiens, which I reviewed recently. In Oser’s score (as seems to be the case with a lot of music written for silent films), the music is used as musical a backdrop rather than replicating the on-screen action. The same is true for Canal Tamagawa. Ravel-Chapuis’ contemporary minimalism style is ideal as a support for the aspects of the novel that have been chosen as inspiration for the score. I think that writer Osamu Dazai’s troubled life – with its hardship and the author’s numerous suicide attempts – also lends itself to the minimalist form of music: somehow minimalism ably translates into music the (perhaps) unstable mind. Using a small trio chamber ensemble the composer here forgoes the idea of the thematic and, instead, focuses on varying pace, textures and mood to hint more at the psychological aspects contained within the story. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: audio clips, book score, Canal Tamagawa, Fabrice Ravel-Chapuis, Reviews, Soundtracks | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan Rogers on October 6, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers
Writer Ruta Sepetys approached musician and recording artist Gavin Mikhail and asked him to write a piano score for her first book, Between Shades of Gray. Between Shades of Gray is a novel aimed at the young adult (but has appeal to older readers also) that follows the experiences of 15-year-old Lina, her 10-year-old brother and their mother in 1941 Lithuania after they are rounded up by the Soviet secret police and transported to a Siberian labour camp. Based upon meticulous research and drawing from interviews with survivors of the Soviet genocide, Sepetys’ book is (by all accounts) a powerful story.
Gavin Mikhail, working together with the author, has chosen characters and events from the book and has written eight pieces for solo piano. Mikhail’s score is melancholic in tone and has an emotional impact that is easily felt in both the music he has composed and by the way in which the music is played. The music doesn’t really touch on the horrors described in the book. There is no dissonance, no soundscapes that make this a difficult album to hear. However, there is a sadness underpinning most of the tracks (“Ice and Ashes”, “11 Cigarettes” and “Far From Home” are good examples) but there is also a sense of strength (e.g,. “Ice and Ashes” with its powerful rendition of the melody), patriotism (e.g., “Krasivaya” has not a celebratory patriotism but rather a feeling of stoic resoluteness in the face of adversity), love (e.g., “The Last Lullaby”, a stand-out track) and triumph (e.g., “Between Shades of Gray”) that ensures that every track is memorable. Only on one occasion does the music have a feeling of peril or worry to it: “Run To Something Beautiful” has an injection of speed to its tempo that translates to a sense of urgency. By the end of this short album (it runs to just over 20 minutes) you come away having been touched my Mikhail’s music in a way that is, in the end, uplifting. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: audio clips, Between Shades of Gray, book score, Gavin Mikhail, Reviews, Soundtracks | Leave a Comment »