Weekly Recommendations – w/e 24th December 2021

Here’s another round-up of recommended scores that have caught my attention over the week ending, 24th December 2021.

Sisi (2021) – Jessica de Rooij (i2i Musikproduktion)

The story of Empress Elizabeth of Austria (‘Sisi’) has been told on-screen a number of times and this 2021 TV mini-series from the German channel RTL is a “modern, honest, and authentic” retelling of her life. Jessica de Rooij’s score is a full-blooded orchestral (Slovak National Symphony Orchestra) score that also prominently features a large choral presence. A modern twist to the soundscape is the inclusion of synths to augment the orchestra. The mixing of orchestra, choir and synths does sound awkward in places but, overall, the score offers much to enjoy.

Woodgirls: A Duet for a Dream (2021) – Amir Molookpour (Reality Bytes)

Soundtrack label MovieScore Media has released three scores from Iranian-born composer Amir Molookpour and his score for this 2021 Iranian documentary on the Reality Bytes ‘sub-label’ is particularly notable. The subjects of the feature documentary are two female carpenters trying to succeed in a profession that is considered very male-dominated. Molookpour’s score echoes their difficult situation, featuring sombre strings and some lovely woodwinds. The short score (18 minutes) revolves around a single thematic idea which mirrors the women’s resolve to succeed. The composer’s talent is seen when we hear how he transforms the score and theme to a more hopeful aspect at the album’s conclusion.

Superworm (2021) – René Aubry & Terry Davies (Magic Light Pictures Ltd.)

The adaptation of the books of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo, Stick Man) have been a delight of the festive season for a number of years. And the accompaniment of these little animated masterpieces by the music of René Aubry has added immeasurably to their enjoyment. Aubry has once again created a lovely and whimsical score for Superworm, composing an expressive score from a relatively small ensemble of musicians. Composer Terry Davies is credited as providing a couple of tracks that fits seamlessly with Aubry’s musical world.

The Last Warrior: Emissary of Darkness (2021) – George Kallis (Walt Disney Records)

This third part of a Russian-produced Disney production based on Russian folk tales comes quite quickly on the heels of the second instalment (The Last Warrior: Root of Evil was released in January 2021). The second part featured an excellent score from composer George Kallis and the quality of the music continues in this most recent release. The Last Warrior: Emissary of Darkness is an exciting action score (with a strong emotional input too) that doesn’t forget to showcase some excellent thematic material.

Ephesus (2021) – Kaan Salman (Records DK)

There’s not much to this score (in terms of running time – the EP runs to less than 6 minutes) but what there is is very worthwhile tracking down. Written for the exploration and survival game, Ephesus, Kaan Salman’s score is predominantly written for harp and other plucked strings. It’s the sort of music that can be played on a loop as background music to create a soothing atmosphere – which may reflect the composer’s parallel interest in video game sound design.

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