|by Mike Brennan
on July 21st, 2004
Stephen Warbeck, Academy Award winner in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love
, dove head-first into ethnic orchestrations for his latest score for Jean-Jacques Annaud's Two Brothers
. The style of the score is reminiscent of other Asian-based film scores, such as Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
and George Fenton's Anna and the King
. Warbeck utilizes ethnic instruments like the erhu and sheng as well as a solo cello (like Yo-Yo Ma's performance for Crouching Tiger
). The beginning of the score features a moving light string and woodwind section performing the main theme, which is similar to Warbeck's theme from Shakespeare in Love
is a much more diverse score than Shakespeare in Love
, with styles ranging from playful circus music to majestic brass fanfares. Parts of the score are difficult to listen to mixed in with the beautiful Asian-influenced music and powerful cues for the action scenes. These parts are jazzy saxophone and bouncy circus music ("Havoc") for certain scenes in the film where they are undoubtedly appropriate, but when heard in sequence on album, are quite out of place. There is even a cue at the end of the album ("To Freedom") featuring the director Jean-Jacques Annaud whistling, which - for me - is irritating.
However, the majority of Warbeck's score for Two Brothers
is quite enjoyable and features some brilliant cues. The first two tracks perform the main theme with strings and woodwinds backed by a moving ethnic percussion rhythm. This percussion returns later in the score ("Recognition" and "Through the Flames") in a more urgent rhythm for the climax action scenes in the film. Standout tracks include "Chasing the Truck", "The Tiger Broken", and "Recognition" where multiple elements of the score come together and the drama between the tiger brothers and the human characters attached to them can be felt in the music.
Warbeck does a good job at fusing eastern and western sounds with the bouncy energy of playful cubs and the drama and action of the two brother's separation and rejoining. Much of this score reminds me of John Debney's music for White Fang 2
with a mix of solo strings and layered brass fanfares, most notably in "Return to the River" with what sounds like an English horn. The orchestrations are diverse and yet maintain a consistent feel, except for the inserted jazz cues. The theme is not as memorable as I would have liked, but it is recognizable enough in the music and works well with the overall ethnic feel of the score. Annaud uses different composers for each film (Williams for Seven Years in Tibet
, Horner for Enemy at the Gates
), but Warbeck was a good choice for Two Brothers
and provided a well-rounded score that captured the multiple elements and styles in the film.