Stephen Warbeck

Captain Corelli's Mandolin [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Stephen Warbeck, winner of the 1998 Academy Award for original musical or comedy score for Shakespeare in Love, teamed again with that film's director, John Madden, for Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The title, of course, suggests a major musical element of the score, and the film's setting on a Greek island during World War II, and plot, a romantic triangle set against the background of the war, provide further indications of the music's tone. Warbeck certainly responds to those elements, coming up with a series of mostly one- to three-minute cues dominated by the acoustic guitar of Dario Rosetti-Bonell and the mandolin of Giovanni Parricelli, integrated with a restrained symphony orchestra and interspersed with Italian singing, some of it by classical crossover star Russell Watson. He comes up with suitably ominous sounds for "The Battle" and suitably suspenseful ones for "Escape From the Island." But his specialty, no matter the instrumentation or the story, is melodic adagios that set a mood of sensitive contemplation. In their sleeve notes, he and Madden make a point of saying that the music was written before the film was shot, and Warbeck also notes that he spent a year writing it. These are anything but the standard practices for feature films, in which the music is generally written in an abbreviated post-production period often lasting only a few weeks. The difference seems to be that Warbeck has managed to create a more individual score, less dependent than most on program music. The soundtrack album still consists of short, relatively undeveloped passages, but it sounds more like the work of a particular composer than do many scores. Hollywood rarely affords such privileges, but Warbeck deserves to be an exception.

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