Whereas Raoul Ruiz' bio-drama of the famous painter received very mixed reviews in its ability to convey the creative machinations of the artist and his gorgeous paintings, Jorge Arriagada's score is an extremely lyrical, buoyant work that arguably shines brighter as a standalone album, mostly because the waltzes, piano solos, lush orchestral passages, and sparse, somber dramatic cues form an otherwise giddy listening experience.
It's a strong contrast to musical portraits of the struggling, tortured artist, and with only a few darkly toned cues in the album, Arriagada's score provides some lovely snapshots of Klimt's period – his brief “Chinoiserie” is elegant and clever in avoiding tinges of kitsch – and his main theme, often performed on solo piano, recurs as a short character statement between longer and more formal dramatic underscore.
Arriagada's writing is very elegant without being dolled up with fluttering, shimmering ornamentation, and brief cues like “Flanneries” are concise statements on mood, period, and locale, whereas “The Angel” is ominous and enticing, with a free-form, airy structure that lets woodwinds and solo string instruments make short mystical statements.
“Transitions” is equally alluring, and its mix of volume and instrumental dynamics provides varying shades of melancholy that begin from afar and slowly creep closer with a large yet restrained orchestra. The album's tone also shifts around the midpoint, and the emphasis moves into more abstract cues that emphasize conflicts, such as the dreamy, gliding structure within “The Double.”
As an album, Klimt is a very rewarding experience as the themes and variations are balanced in their presentation, and the mood rarely delves into anything deeply gloomy. Arriagada's waltzes, such as the “Bonbon Waltz” and “Trifleness,” are charming parlor works for small chamber orchestra, and the score's orchestrations are lean and very direct: Arriagada evokes a breezy, carefree, indulgent lifestyle, yet he recognizes the dramatic potency when using his instruments with great selectivity.
Most of Arriagada's work has been in France (including his score for the 1993 reconstruction of Orson Welles' aborted 1942 docu-drama, It's All True), and that's where a modest series of CDs have been released, so MovieScore Media's downloadable album is probably the easiest format to acquire this great introduction to a notable composer.
A highly recommended album that bubbles with wit, charm, and refined class.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan