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LA SPAGNOLA: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
Cezary Skubiszewski is fast finding an affinity with foot-stomping rhythms. Last year he contributed the score between the toe-tapping (or was it boot-bopping?) pop songs of Bootmen, and here he flirts quite brilliantly with flamenco. Opening with the crisp clatter of castanets and concluding with the poignant strains of a Spanish guitar, Skubiszewski’s soundtrack captures the full intensity and vicissitudes of living with passion.

The opening cues personify the feistiest side of a hot Latin temperament. Flight In The Dust features a bold, brass fanfare riding galloping strings and castanets. It is the fundamental flamenco rhythm overflowing with ebullience. Then the second cue ignites into a full blown rumba, courtesy of Skubiszewski’s own “Cezary’s Combo”: a good-sized ensemble comprising generous brass section, guitars, accordion, bass, drums, percussion and the composer himself on piano.

As the score develops, the dynamics of a life of uncompromising ardour are explored. Strings skip giddily on Travelling To Bruno, while the solo guitar and solo harp of The Day After and Manola’s Says Goodbye respectively, are achingly reflective. Some of the more bleakly titled cues have an ironic humour to them. Lola’s Revenge is an insanely exuberant dialogue of horns and concertina, exchanging repartee over firstly a syncopated guitar beat, and then a lumbering, down-beat tuba.

Performances go back and forth between Cezary’s Combo, the Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra and the solo-instrument cues; and every instrumentalist promotes a seductive, organic sound. It is a bright sound though, with plenty of glossy ambience in the recordings to sweeten the spicy rhythms.

By the time we get to the penultimate cue, Lucia’s First Kiss, things are really sizzling and the saxophones are flying. Yet for all this aural stimulation, Skubiszewski smoothly brings us down with the final cue, Lucia Leaves Home, an ambiguous interplay of emotions between guitar and trumpet. Both haunting and both full of lament, hope, regret and resilience.

A marvellous cocktail of controlled volatility, there is not a weak moment on this soundtrack. In fact, it is such an intoxicating fiesta of melody and rhythm it should have any self-respecting Novocastrian steelworker trading in the boots for a pair of flamenco heels.

Published January 24, 2002

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TITLE: La Spagnola

ID: CBG410501N

Warner

MUSIC BY: Cezary Skubiszewski

PERFORMERED BY: Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra, with Jeff Payne (trumpet), Julie Raines (harp), Mario Lattuada (guitar); Cezary’s Combo

ORCHESTRATOR/CONDUCTOR: Daryl McKenzie

TRACKS: 10

NOTE: This soundtrack is not available commercially; only a few promotional copies were made prior to the film's theatrical release.







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