180° – Diego Baldenweg


Original Review by Alan Rogers

180°, a Swiss-German co-production from 2010, tells the tale of a handful of people whose lives are brought together as a result of fate and a split-second’s lapse in attention. The film follows them as they are bound together in a spiral of events that involves more and more people. These human stories are framed by the unfolding story of a civil servant who has just killed several co-workers. Because of the film’s structure and rather depressing tone, 180° has been compared with Paul Haggis’ Crash. Whereas Mark Isham composed a synth-based score for the latter movie, Swiss-born director Cihan Inan, has turned to Australian-Swiss composer Diego Baldenweg to compose haunting and unyielding, award-winning score (played by the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich under the direction of David Zinman). This score marks Baldenweg’s first all-live scoring assignment for film.

A relative newcomer to film scoring (his IMDb profile lists a mere 8 titles since 2005), Baldenweg shows a great deal of maturity of character to produce a score that focuses particularly on piano and the string section of the orchestra and delivers music that supports the emotional narrative of the film but does not swamp it. The score opens with “Prologue”, establishing the tone of the score with a staccato piano passage that then moves to a bittersweet theme that’s supported by low strings. This mood continues into the second track, “A Moment of Reflection”, but this time the roles are reversed and a solo cello plays the theme and the piano provides support. The whole mood of the score is summed up by the style of music used to underscore the “Crash”: the score does not opt for an action sequence but rather plays the drama out as if it were more like a ballet. And so the score unfolds pretty much in the same vein. 

There are contrasting cues however that do add a bit of variation to the overall mood. The “Main Theme (Rampage)” features prominently a cimbalom that gives quite a different sound after the previous dominance of the piano and low strings. “Love” and “Roses” feature various winds, with the latter cue also featuring the tinkling of a celeste (apparently constructed by pianist Peter Solomon) and adding some delicacy to the score. However, these contrasts are only brief as the score quickly returns to the moody and haunting music of earlier. The “Epilogue” brings everything to a close with an almost religious feel to things. Strings signal with reverential chords followed by a short passage featuring solo female wordless vocals and the track and score draws to a close with a restatement of the solemn chords. There are three additional cues to round out the score itself that take away from the emotional listening experience that has gone before and are really just add on “bonus tracks”.

The majority of small films (ie., not mainstream) feature scores where relatively new composers are able to learn their craft with orchestras (with a bit of luck and a budget), using the various sections of the orchestra with economy and with a reason. Baldenweg’s score for 180° is a well-crafted score that may initially seem a bit too depressing a listen but it boasts some lovely piano/string orchestra pieces that reward the listener. The score is released as a digital download on the composer’s own label Great Garbo Music and is available at the usual online stores.

Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on blue arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: ***

  1. Prologue (1:56)
  2. A Moment of Reflection (4:21)
  3. Crash (2:35)
  4. Scherzo In D Minor (1:18)
  5. Main Theme (Rampage) (3:39)
  6. Moments (2:54)
  7. Man In The Car (2:30)
  8. Children (1:15)
  9. Roses (2:08)
  10. My Son (2:38)
  11. The Sea – I (1:29)
  12. Love (2:33)
  13. Collapse (0:48)
  14. The Sea – II (1:11)
  15. Grief (1:42)
  16. Epilogue (2:28)
  17. Piano Theme (1:35)
  18. Amok (Original Version) (3:35)
  19. Amok (Instrumental) (3:35)

Running Time: 44:18

Great Garbo Music (2010)

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