Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)





The Kite Runner


Music composed by Alberto Iglesias.

21 Tracks
(Playing Time = 62:47; 16 score tracks, Playing Time = 44:33)




Additional arrangements by David Cerrejon, Jorge Magaz, and Jose Villalobos. Vocal solos by Sussan Deyhim. Hollywood Studios Symphony conducted by Michael Nowal. Score recorded and mixed by Jose Luis Crespo Duenas. Also includes songs performed by Ahmad Zahir, Ehsan Aman, and Sami Yusaf. Music edited by Jay Richardson. Score recorded at Cata Studios ( Madrid), Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage, Conway Studios, and Remote Control Productions. Score mixed at Old Firehouse Recording Studio. Album mastered by Lennart Jeschke. Art direction by Nikolaus Boddin.

Edge Music B0010046-02

Rating: ***1/2


Edge Music is not some new label but a world music division evidently from the Decca group. The score comes from this year’s Oscar hopeful, THE KITE RUNNER. The film has already received some publicity related to a rape scene in the film involving two boys. The boys and families involved in the scene have recently been relocated to the UAR for their own protection. The film derives from the bestseller by Khaled Hosseini which follows the final days of Afghanistan’s monarchy into the atrocities of the Taliban government. The story is told through the eyes of the young Amir who flees to America with his father to America, allowing us to explore how Afghani immigrants experienced American life and reception in the 1980s. Marc Forster directs ( FINDING NEVERLAND) and the score is provided by Alberto Iglesias.

If you are unaware of Iglesias’ background you might think him an unlikely choice, but he is very adept at taking appropriate ethnic music (heard more recently in THE CONSTANT GARDENER, his most atypical score in some time) and blending that with richly dramatic narrative music ( BAD EDUCATION is a great example of this). He also is great at capturing a director’s vision for his musical material that often takes former musical models as its inspiration. Iglesias does a great job at taking those models and making them thoroughly his own whether it is ambient music, Herrmann-esque scoring, or ethnic-influenced music. A rock guitar even shows up for “The Stadium” lending a contemporary contextual feel to the score. Things go wildly out of control in “Escape” which has a Shifrin-esque piano line, brass crescendos, and ethnic percussion and instrumentation for a wildly dissonant cue that gives way to a beautiful flute line.

The “Opening Titles” begin with a Middle-Eastern string instrument sound and other ethnic winds and percussion with string backdrop that gradually appears. It is a leaner orchestral sound from other standard Hollywood Arabic-influenced scoring which gives way to just the hint of a thematic idea on guitar. The vocalizations that Iglesias adds here, though often a common failsafe approach, flow out of the score material far more naturally and appropriately. That is to say that they are not “extra-musical” but an intuitive expression of the musical underscore. The asymmetrical rhythms of “The Call, Kabul 1978” create a perfect musical picture while straying away from overly Westernizing the material. “Kite Shop” is one of the many highlights of the disc that begins to blend the ethnic musical sounds with more traditional Hollywood film music. “Kite Tournament” has an almost Celtic sound and feel to the music, which at first seems oddly out of place, until the Arabic percussion ideas appear and we move into another of the fantastic set pieces of the score that has a wonderful overall musical shape throughout its 5 minute playing time. Overall, this is one of Iglesias’ richer and more lyrically thematic scores with engagingly enticing orchestral colors and ideas that show the composer at the height of his skills.

The score tracks are set apart throughout by five pieces that lend a more authentic flavor to the film. There are two from the mid-1970s performed by Ahmad Zahir (with electronic organ!?), two by Ehsan Aman written perhaps for the film itself, and the final track, “Supplication” performed by Iranian artist Sami Yusuf. Rather than distract from the score proper, they add a level of authenticity to its style and approach. They also serve to increase awareness of the unique sound of Afghani music from the period, reproduced here in very good sound that matches the levels of the surrounding score material. The rhythmic pulses in these dance-like works provide a key to Iglesias’ models for his score and show how he has adapted those sounds into his musical textures and orchestral styles. The harmonic and rhythmic ideas of the score take their departure from these extra-musical pieces as well making for an interesting overall listening experience.

THE KITE RUNNER is one of Iglesias’ most widely-accessible scores to date with a superb blend of ethnic musics interpreted in ways that flow naturally out of the music.

As the disc progresses (resequenced from film order), the composer pulls out all the stops to create fascinating blends of his musical material that make this one of the highlights of the year.


--Steven A. Kennedy , 3 December 2007

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