Review: End of the Affair, The
3.5 / 5 Stars
What would Elliot Goldenthal, Neil Jordan's composer of choice for the past half decade, have done with The End of the Affair? Certainly, it would have been a far cry from Michael Nyman's score for the film. Not for Nyman is the epic size and score of most Goldenthal scores; the instrumental effects and quickly shifting dynamics. Nyman's music is achingly restrained, always at least one step shy of romanticismand right where it belongs.
There are no real highlights to point out in the tracks on this albumno one cue really stands apart from the rest, and that is a large part of what makes it work so well. Like a good ensemble cast, the pieces of the score all feed off of one another, and lend to each other thematic material that can only be appreciated fully upon listening to it's subtle weaving from track to track. The disc consists of generally slow, fairly quiet musicalmost elegiac at times, but always with the aforementioned restraint. There are distinct Nyman-isms to be heard all throughout by his avid fans, and many of the same ensemble members who've been playing with him since before The Draughtsman's Contract (and his sax section's grown).
What's the downside? Some will complain that it's not a distinctive listening experience that doesn't leave you with anything memorable. I'll agree inasmuch as this is not a score that people will typically hum walking down the street. However, if they want that, they can turn to his Greenaway scores. This is Nyman at his most introspective, while still managing to maintain the restraint which comes with being both British and a minimalist (a term first applied to music by Nyman in the '60s). What a wonderful and haunting mood piece this is.