Tomasz Stańko

A Farewell to Maria (Original Soundtrack)

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This soundtrack to Filip Zylber's film made for Polish television is among composer and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's greatest achievements; it puts him on a par -- when it comes to film music at least -- with his former boss, the late Kryzsztof Komeda. Stanko composed for a sizable group here, his own quartet plus an additional five musicians and a string quintet. The set begins with the title theme as a leitmotif, with strings covering the backdrop and trumpet and soprano saxophones playing a noirish love theme, and then gives way after a few minutes to a very brief "Love Motive." This second section is merely an atmospheric foreshadowing of the only non-original piece of music in the work, a version of Gounod and Bach's hymn Ave Maria. The preliminaries have been dealt with now, on the screen and in the score, because this indeed marks the break in the work. As "A Farewell to Maria" begins in earnest, listeners hear Stanko writing what he does best: sweeping, mysterious, elegantly crafted, and nuanced orchestral music with small flourishes of the other, the alien, the unnameable, such as a series of shakers in a particularly pastoral passage or a rapping sound on the bass in the minor eighth part of "Love Motive in a Church," or perhaps the percussion-driven, nearly rock & roll angularity of "Wedding Party - 'Orgy'." There are hints of tangos, waltzes, fantasias, and even tarantellas, but they are all hints, looking for the images on the screen to fill them in. In the meantime, they create an impressionistic soundscape for the listener, who is totally engaged. Wonderful stuff.

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