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K-19: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
Not a Tchaikovsky cannon in sight. This is a score set firmly in the brooding corner of Russian romanticism. Tapping into the moodier moments of Tchaikovsky, The Five and the other 19th century Russian nationalist composers, Klaus Badelt has effectively transferred the vast, harsh and bitter landscape they evoked to an oceanic, cold war setting.†

Badelt is a bit of a rookie on the film score scene, but heís been signed up for some time to a serious team. Originally from Germany, where he wrote music for both television and cinema, he was recruited by Hans Zimmerís Media Ventures in 1998. Since then Badeltís had a hand in Zimmer blockbuster soundtracks such as Pearl Harbour and Gladiator, but has only recently been handed a blank manuscript on which to make his own mark.†

Heís also been handed some pretty fair musical talent. Media Ventures is somewhat notorious for employing as many samples as it does live string players, but here we have the first soundtrack performed by the Kirov Orchestra, steered by the illustrious baton of Valery Gergiev.†

The fluidity of this fine orchestra is the perfect conduit for Badeltís rather subtle score. Opening with a four part suite Ė titled respectively Fear, Fate, War and Soul Ė these grand themes of humanity are explored with short, minor key melodies that merge into a dense atmosphere. As one might expect, the intensity explodes in the third part, War, which is one of the scoreís few forays into dramatic action and modernism. This cue, in fact, is so remarkably similar to some of the battle sequences in Zimmerís Gladiator that Badelt must be making an intentional nod to his mentor. Itís a clever choice too, because for mine he is also paying his one homage to the more progressive Russian composers. While comparisons to Holst have come thicker and faster than swords in the Colosseum about the Gladiator score, Iíve always felt that there were clear debts to Stravinsky as well.†

The lengthy cues that follow this opening suite have heavy passages of melancholic underscoring, but there is always enough movement to maintain interest. The sombre mood also accents the highly selective dynamic moments, which include rousing refrains from the Kirovís male chorus and brief flourishes of percussion and brass stabs. In the cue Capt. Alexi Vostrikov, Bardelt reprises the Gladiator-like themes with some intriguing, yet oddly delicate dissonances.†

The final two cues of the score Ė Reactor, a montage of selections from Roy Einhornís Voices of Light and the intensely moving cue titled Reactor Ė bring out the soundtrackís understated melodic core, and deliver a suitably poignant finale to a score which never wavers from its adherence to classicism and which will be richly rewarding to the patient listener.†

Published November 7, 2002

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TITLE: K-19 The Widowmaker
ID: 225782
FMR
SCORE: Klaus Badelt
PERFORMED BY: Kirov Orchestra
CONDUCTED BY: Valery Gergiev







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