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Nyman: Prospero's Books [Music from the Film by Peter Greenaway]
Sarah Leonard, Marie Angel, Ute Lemper
Nyman: Prospero's Books [Music from the Film by Peter Greenaway]
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1


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Antti Keisala | Jyväskylä, Finland | 03/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't know about your film life, that is I don't know what you demand of films and of film music. But to me a film has to be visual first and not literal, and film music has to somehow attract our imagination and refer to that visual quality. That makes a strong internallay visual cross-reference, as music creates images (impressions) in our mind already on its own. This notion added to the visual space of cinema shapes a possibly unique experience.

So the best composers have a strong visual identity. I don't mean a cinematic identity but the kind which inspires and ultimately makes our mind to refer to time and place when we hear a melody that burns deep into our memory. We attach them to our daily lives, and they not only strengthen our moods, they help to create them. This really shows how powerful music really can be.

Cinema is powerful but in a slightly different way. It isn't like literature or music in which the impressions are highly subjective in the way that we never really see or hear the same passage in the same way twice. This is true of cinema in a peculiarly meta-abstract way, but I suppose you get the point. The point is this: cinema has to refer to something more abstract than just solidify images to stone in our mind. It has to be lucid, at least the cinema I invite to my own life. And Greenaway's cinema is, and the great thing is that Shakespeare's art is, and so is Nyman's.

This I consider Nyman's best work, a work of an artist who works the other way around with directors - his work strengthens and the film strengthens his. This is rare and the collaborative richness of the Greenaway/Nyman axis is even rarer: two genuinely intelligent artists grouped together, both understanding each other.

You might know of the falling apart that happened between the two after this particular album. Tragic for us, as I think Nyman has never really been the same, although his work with Winterbottom is genuinely inspiring. Greenaway has made cinematically inspiring films, but that one dimension is now missing. It is Nyman's ability to refer to that oblivious area in our mind in which the images and the musical impressions meet to shape a coherent experience, both of them intertwining and folding into themselves. "Prospero's Magic" might be the most triumphant piece of music written on the cinematic age. Most of the stuff is Nyman that has been pulled out of its former context to fill the Shakespearean one (more on the film in a comment I wrote about it some time ago) but it works so well it brings tears to my eyes. And "The Masque" is already a fitting end not only to the film but to the partnership that's unmatched.

This is the perfect soundtrack for your life.

With best regards,
The soundtrack really supports the movie
Greenaway Fan | oxford, ms | 12/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I am not a huge fan of all the pieces on this disc, but "Prospero's Magic" will not get out of my head. I don't know what it is about this simple harmonic progression, but it is quite effective. Nyman 's orchestration often creates a tension in otherwise consonant passages.

The scene in the movie where this occurs is just brilliant. Peter Greenaway has this continuous camera shot that keeps rolling to the right and everything is choreographed brilliantly. It is one of my favorite sequences in all of film history."