Sunday, July 11, 2010

Soundtrack: I Am Love

Usually, I am not a big fan of contemporary classical music. I find it repetitive to the extreme, and sometimes it makes me feel as if I were being stung by a swarm of particularly angry African killer bees.

So I was surprised when I fell into deep deep love with the music from the new movie I Am Love. The score, if one can call it that, is a compilation of pieces composed by John Adams, and the 9-track CD (from Nonesuch) is what amounts to a greatest hits package of some of his most affecting, and most beautiful, works.

The glory starts with "The Chairman Dances," a 12-minute piece that twirls madly from its first moments. It starts with an authoritative and (yes) repetitive series of notes, but somehow Adams lays on a contrasting motif that transforms the potential bees stings into something quite lovely.

"Century Rolls: I. First Movement" is a magical little piece that calls to mind the simple pleasures and mysteries of a new love. "Lollapalooza" is a full-bodied orchestral dance. It's got a quirky little motif in there that makes it sound, now and again, like parody.

The CD features two sections from Adams' "Shaker Loops," the third ("Loops and Verses") and the fourth ("A Final Shaking"). The former is starts off quietly, gently, mysteriously, with delicate little string sounds. Then more of the orchestra is folded in, bringing a heavier layer of mystery and drama. The latter brings us back to the that stinging feeling, though in this case it isn't entirely unpleasant. I know that sounds odd...but so is the piece. What can I tell you?

I love the CD's seventh cue, "Fearful Symmetries (Excerpt)." There's something beautiful and frightening about it. It's got a base of strings, but at a lower register than some of the other selections.

The CD ends with parts two and three of Adams' "Harmonielehere." "The Anfortas Wound" is a quietly dramatic piece, like a long piece of score from a 1940s film. After 11 minutes of intimate quiet, it ends with loud, deep horns that cut through the mood like a foghorn on a thick night. The last track, "Meister Eckhardt and Quckie," is a stunningly beautiful piece that somehow reminds you of "The Chairman's Dance" even though it's completely different. They work like bookends. There's a yearning here, and a disappointment, that fits perfectly with the film's theme of forbidden love. I can't listen to it enough. It's heartbreakingly romantic even as it builds to a triumphant close. It sounds as if someone's had an awakening and doesn't quite know what to do with it.

I Am Love looks to be an incredible film. It's in limited release now—and I can't wait to see it. The wonderful music alone tells me it's going to be outstanding.

No comments: