Director Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defence is a tale of illicit and tragic love set against an international chess match played at the Italian Lakes in the late '20s. Thus, composer Alexandre Desplat, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, had the task of providing musical accompaniment to two kinds of conflict: romantic and intellectual. He does so with a score that alternates between lush sections full of long melodic lines and sharp passages of quickly played, percussive notes. On the one hand, his music is full of feeling; on the other, it seems meant to accompany complicated analysis. On a soundtrack album, that makes for sounds that can be soothing one moment, stimulating the next. Despite the dichotomy, the music is of a piece, except for the intrusion of "Waltz No. 2 From Jazz Suite No. 2" by Dimitri Shostakovich (played by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Paul Bateman), which for some reason appears twice on the album.
The Luzhin Defence (Original Film Soundtrack) Review
by William Ruhlmann