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The Year of the Wolf - Tuomas Kantelinen

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Artist: Tuomas Kantelinen / Genre: Soundtracks

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      18.01.2008 18:53
      Very helpful



      Music this beautiful makes my heart ache.

      *Originally published on Movie Music Italiano's message board in September 2007*

      Tuomas Kantelinen is quite possibly the most odd Finnish film composer around as he is classically trained and writes mostly orchestral scores of great dramatic weight instead of the more usual rock and pop scores the is in vogue in Finnish cinema. Coming out in 2007, Suden Vuosi (The Year of the Wolf) is his latest offering. The film tells of two lonely people, a middle-aged poetry teacher Mikko Groman, who is out-of-synch with the present, and the young, epileptic university student Sari who fall in love amid wide dismay from the surrounding world due to their great age difference and status of teacher/student. Kantelinen's score tackles this setup with a very elegiac and downbeat attitude as is usual from the composer when he writes music for dramas such as this. The score does not have a big thematic base to it and basically just relies on two themes. The first could essentially be called the main theme, consisting of an undulating rhythmic ripple, like the flowing of a river that is usually followed by a string-heavy, long-drawn elegy that pops up as a suitably melodramatic reference throughout the score. The theme's only real major setpiece performances come in the absolutely gorgeous "Adagio" (the heart of the entire score) and the final "Requiem" where it is transformed into a rhythmically elegiac song sung in Latin by Karoliina Kantelinen, and making for some exceptionally beautiful listening with her many different vocal usages. Otherwise it's usually tagged on at the ends of different cues like "Beginning" and "Together". The second identifiable theme comes in the form of a slightly more dissonant and uneasy melody that appears a few times in the cues "Cycle," "Alone" and in a more tenderly happy presentation in "Together", the only place where the score actually sounds at least slightly happy, in essence being a kind of "friendship" theme (or so I would guess).

      The constant characteristic of the score is its underlying rhythmic rippling that drives everything forward with an almost unrelenting flow, very similar to what James Newton Howard did in Lady in the Water and this sense of flow really gives a great sense of motion that is only disrupted a few times, like in the tender "Solitary", the almost static "Floating" and the aforementioned "Adagio". Employing mostly only the piano and strings, the few other instruments remain almost invisible for most of the time. Only a couple of times does more modern elements of synths or other contemporary instruments, like the light cymbal tapping and marimba in the cue "Time", interfere with the almost classically pure environment. On the whole I am very much reminded of Thomas Newman of The Shawshank Redemption and Angels in America in many places, particularly in cues such as the wonderfully darkly-lit "Awakening" or the repetitively tingling Philip Glass-like "Piano Loop" and "String Loop". The only place where the score features more edgily actiony music comes at the end with "Attack" that again relies heavily on sawing strings and lightly tapping percussion, but even this is short and to the point at just under a minute. The album consists of 15 tracks and lasts only around 30 minutes, but I think this is quite an adequate length to get a wide enough sweep of the score to not really require anything more. As a summary, if you are a fan of elegiac and dark scores, then Year of the Wolf is a real treat with its combination of some beautiful melodic writing and a great deep, meditative and morose feel.

      The album is a bit hard to find outside of Finland but the CD can be ordered from CDBaby for the rather expensive $16,00 or alternatively (and more easily) buy as a download from iTunes for £7,99.

      1. Cycle (2:09)
      2. Beginning (2:57)
      3. Alone (2:12)
      4. Water (1:23)
      5. Bridge (1:11)
      6. Awakening (3:17)
      7. Together (2:43)
      8. Piano Loop (1:23)
      9. Adagio (4:41)
      10. String Loop (1:08)
      11. Solitary (1:21)
      12. Time (1:24)
      13. Floating (3:21)
      14. Attack (0:47)
      15. Requiem (3:03)

      Music Composed and Conducted by Tuomas Kantelinen
      Orchestrated by Matt Dunkley & Tuomas Kantelinen
      Piano: Simon Chamberlain
      Marimba: Frank Ricotti
      Harp: Hugh Webb
      Clarinet: Nick Bucknall
      Vocals: Karoliina Kantelinen
      Engineered by Geoff Foster
      Recorded at Air Lyndhurst Studios
      Miracle, 2007 (MIR-104)

      © berlioz, 2008


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    • Product Details

      Film music composer Tuomas Kantelinen studied classical composing in his native Finland and continues to make music for both cinema and concert audiences.

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