Weekly Recommendations – w/e 21st January 2022

Here’s another round-up of recommended scores that have caught my attention over the week ending, 21st January 2022.

The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino (1912) – John T. La Barbera (John T. La Barbera/ Labmambo)

Guitar virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist, and composer John T. La Barbera has recently composed new scores for a number of silent films. The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino is a story of real-life NYPD detective Joseph Petrosino who was the first police officer assigned to investigate the Mafia in New York, but was murdered in Palermo by the Mafia. La Barbera draws on his experience with fretted instruments to compose an expressive score for solo classical guitar (with additional mandolin and chitarra battente, an Italian folk guitar). Although the score effortlessly moves from being an emotional driver of the narrative to supporting the on-screen situations the characters find themselves in, there’s a foreboding undercurrent to the music that foretells the protagonists ultimate fate. Infused with an Italian flavour, La Barbera’s score for The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino is an album worth seeking out.

The Red Sleeve (옷소매 붉은 끝동) (2021) – various artists (Toon Studio)

The Red Sleeve is a South Korean historical romantic drama TV series. The romance between a court lady (trying to protect the life she has chosen) and a king (who puts his country before love) appears doomed to fail. But the scenario is fertile ground for listed composers Roh Hyoung-woo, Oh Hee-joon, Choi So-rin, Park Ji-ye, and Cho Eun-young, and they come up with music that offers a lovely orchestral journey. Furtive pizzicato strings, tender string melodies (including solos), and darker orchestral passages are some of the highlights that fill the almost four hours of score released in the digital release (which also features eight songs on “disc one”). Searchable using the search term ‘red sleeve’, The Red Sleeve is a difficult listen, but only from the point of view of the album’s length. As a musical experience, it’s well worth the effort.

Jai Bhim (2021) – Sean Roldan (Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd.)

Listening to Indian composer Sean Roldan’s (aka Raghavendra Raja Rao) orchestral score for the Indian courtroom drama, Jai Bhim, you would think that the advocate at the centre of the story was some kind of superhero. Roldan’s punchy orchestral score opens with a series of tracks that verge on the power anthem. Prominent brass fanfares punctuate adrenaline-pumped strings to drive the project along are one of the lasting features of Jai Bhim. But the score does take a breath for tracks that cover the plight of those caught up in the corruption of the judicial system that is at the heart of the film’s story. The listening experience does suffer somewhat as the thirty-two tracks are sequenced in alphabetical order and there’s no sense of musical or narrative development. But luckily Roldan’s music is able to shine regardless. Note that, as with many albums released for Indian movies, there’s a release of songs and a release of the “background score”. The album that is the subject of this recommendation is the background score album.

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