The Reader/Nico Muhly

January 20, 2009


The Reader, directed by Stephen Daltry, who has also done the well told psychological films The Hours and Notes On A Scandal, turned out to not only to be a pleasant surprise for this reviewer but the best film I’ve seen in 2008! Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, and David Kross, the film, based on a novel by Bernhard Schlink, tells the story of a young boy and his first love affair with an older woman hiding her past as well as another secret. At the time of this writing in January of 2009, it has already won a Golden Globe for actress Kate Winslet and has had 18 other nominations for various awards.Nico Muhly, who has worked on several films in various capacities for Philip Glass as well as his own score for Joshua available from Movie Score Media, was given the opportunity to do his first major film and his studying with Rouse, Corigliano, and Glass have paid off. Not yet 30, the graduate of Juilliard with a Masters in Music has a long and successful career to look forward to in both film and classical music.

Written for a small orchestra without brass except as noted, this well put together delicate serious score spent much of its time in the background of the film, evident but never where it ever became the focus of the picture. There is nothing close to loud, action, romantic, or comedic type music. This is a score that should be listened to in the film in order to fully appreciate it and then as a separate listening experience it will be even more satisfying. Although quite subtle in nature the opening track of the score “The Egg” does provide a simple theme, a series of common effective chords on the piano supported by strings and harp. It is also repeated in the final scene of the film “Who Was She?” with the addition of woodwinds, a single elegiac trombone, and a larger more developed role for the strings. “Sophie/The Lady with the Little Dog” gives a melody honor to the flute with piano, harp, and strings in the background followed by a rare appearance of the brass in low register chords. “Go Back To Your Friends” is a track that is filled with melancholy, appropriate chamber music for the ending of the relationship that the viewer knew would have to come to a conclusion sooner or later. “Piles of Book,” also filled with despair, features the mourning oboe in an adagio for a tragic scene.

Anyone who enjoys the work of Philip Glass, chamber or classical music, or music that is on the subdued side will find this score a welcome addition to their collection and can be strongly recommended. Nico Muhly is in this reviewer’s opinion a welcome addition to the soundtrack world and I look forward to hearing more of his work for film and the classical world.

Lakeshore CD# is LKS340612
Music Composed, Orchestrated, and Conducted by Nico Muhly
Track listing

1. The Egg (01:06)

2. Spying (02:27)

3. The First Bath (02:50)

4. It’s Not Just about You (01:29)

5. Tram at Dawn (01:05)

6. You Don’t Matter (02:41)

7. Reading (01:51)

8. Cycling Holiday (01:40)

9. Sophie / The Lady with the Little Dog (03:00)

10. Go Back to Your Friends (05:21)

11. Not What I Expected (01:28)

12. Handwriting (02:19)

13. The Failed Visit (04:59)

14. Verdict (01:35)

15. Mail (03:38)

16. Letters (02:39)

17. I Have No One Else to Ask (03:42)

18. Piles of Books (02:13)

19. Who Was She? (06:48)

Total Duration: 00:52:51


One Response to “The Reader/Nico Muhly”

  1. Digitalpiano Says:

    thanks for that piece of information. very helpful.

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