On the heels of the overwhelming success of Shakespeare in Love, director John Madden's latest romantic opus Captain Corelli's Mandolin finds us treading fairly familiar territory: lush period settings, forbidden love, you know the drill. Starring Nicolas Cage (still looking strangely uncomfortable playing a normal person) and the skeletal Penelope Cruz, the film also finds director Madden once again collaborating with Academy Award winning composer Stephen Warbeck.
As the film's title and CD liner notes indicate, this is a story borne of music. Italian music, that is. Make no mistake, the style is undoubtedly Warbeck. The warm lyricism of his popular Shakespeare in Love score is back on display, albeit with slightly somber underpinnings. The former's sunny, chamber-style pieces have given way to a darker and more spare orchestral texture featuring sometimes playful, sometimes delicate solo work for classical guitar, accordion, and of course the mandolin.
The CD opens with "Pelagia's Song", a lush and open-ended
central love theme that skirts the line between soaring and slightly shapeless.
It's okay, though. Warbeck is just giving the music somewhere to go. After the
lyrical but ashen "Recruiting Officer" and "To Albania",
the score quickly strikes a lovely balance between the soloists and the rest of
the orchestra on "
When the score does return, it is largely a low-key affair, with
several tracks featuring only solo mandolin and guitar. It's pretty enough, but
a little of this stuff goes a long way. Things eventually do thicken up with
"The Battle", and the soaring but too-short "Senza Di Te",
featuring a fine vocal by Russell Watson. Watson also contributes to
"Ricordo Ancor", a reprise of the central love theme and, by the
looks of the enhanced CD material (which features a video for the song), the
studio's best attempt at a mainstream single. Warbeck's impeccable class
carries it through, though, with nary a backbeat to be heard. "
Captain Corelli's Mandolin should please fans of Warbeck's previous work. It's eminently listenable, and quite lovely in places. The production value and sound quality are top-notch. But ultimately the album is slightly hurt by its own stubborn pacing.
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