Elliot Goldenthal

Frida [Music from the Motion Picture]

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There is always a question, when a composer works on a project set in a culture of which he or she is not actually a part, a project intended for an audience that goes beyond that culture, how closely the composer should hew to the music of the culture itself. Broadway composers, for example, often have employed musical motifs and an instrument or two indigenous to the setting of a musical set in, say, Siam or Czarist Russia, while the overall score would betray its roots in 20th century American show music. Elliot Goldenthal, a New York-based composer who often works with his romantic partner, director Julie Taymor, follows a more contemporary trend to go native in his score for Taymor's Frida, a biopic about the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). On this soundtrack album, a third of the tracks are actual Mexican folk songs performed by Mexican artists. For the rest, Goldenthal presents a score based on traditional Mexican music. In his liner notes, he makes a point of discussing the limitations of this approach, referring to the music's "proud avoidance of over-complex harmonies," and essentially saying he had to simplify his writing. "The few times I tried to reach for more complex harmony and structure," he notes, "the movie kicked me out with pointy Mexican boots." It's not clear that there is that much difference between a Western composer only employing elements of indigenous music in a score or in effect condescending to the perceived limitations of that music in attempting to re-create it. But Goldenthal's method is the fashion in "authentic" composing. The result is a score partially made up of genuine Mexican folk music and partially made up of a composer's ersatz versions of same.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Frida, film score
feat: Lila Downs
2:31 Amazon
2 1:29 Amazon
2:29 Amazon
4 3:17
Frida, film score
5 1:09 Amazon
feat: Lila Downs
1:36 Amazon
7 2:43 Amazon
Frida, film score
8 1:22 Amazon
9 2:18 Amazon
Frida, film score
10 2:56
2:28 Amazon
Frida, film score
12 0:48 Amazon
13 1:40 Amazon
14 1:57 Amazon
Frida, film score
15 2:13 Amazon
16 2:22
Frida, film score
feat: Lila Downs
1:48 Amazon
18 1:31 Amazon
feat: Marimberos / Trio
2:16 Amazon
20 2:13 Amazon
21 2:34 Amazon
22 2:20 Amazon
Frida, film score
23 1:08 Amazon
24 7:58 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick