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  • Frida
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HALL OF FAMEon November 17, 2002
Elliot Goldenthal, the scorer of movies such as "Heat" and "Titus," comes back with a brilliant blend of traditional Mexican and original latin music to go with one of the best movies of 2002: Julie Taymor's "Frida." The soundtrack as a whole is simply outstanding, yet it has some peak moments: Lila Downs' performances, most specifically the opening track, 'Benediction and Dream,' the sexy tango 'Alcoba Azul' and the theme that plays during the closing titles, 'Burn it blue' which she performs with Brazilian super-star, Caetano Veloso. Also the rendition of "La Llorona" by Chavela Vargas is outstanding. The tracks that are part of his score work are also outstanding, and reminded me a lot of the music from the album "Ronroco" by Argentinian composer and producer, Gustavo Santaolallas. All in all, a very eclectic and hypnotizingly beautiful soundtrack with supreme good taste.
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"Frida," Julie Taymor's superb biopic which portrays the turbulent life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's, is highlighted by Elliot Goldenthal's extraordinary soundtrack and score. Goldenthal, a student of both Aaron Copland and John Corigliani, and director Taymor's husband, states in the CD's linear notes that when scoring the music he took the approach of "melodic intimacy" - scoring with melodies or tunes as opposed to motific fragments. The film is highly successful in bringing to life not only Ms. Kahlo's story, but the vivid colors and richly textured culture of Mexico. In the same mode, Mr. Goldenthal emphasizes Mexico's musical tradition with his score - filled with the rich, evocative sound of song and music indigenous to the region. The composer has explored and displayed the area's folk music, and incorporated it with his own minimalist style and some outstanding songwriting. He has stated, "... that it was a difficult task to capture the 'spirit of Mexican music' since it varies so much around different regions." However, his choice to stay true to the simplicity of the country's rhythms and themes is on target. The result is one of the most compelling soundtracks I have heard in many years. I knew from the minute I heard it, in the theater, that I was going to buy the CD. I did so almost immediately and listen to it frequently.

Central to Goldenthal's score is a core musical ensemble which consists of several acoustic instruments native to Mexico and Central America, including the standard classical guitar, small Mexican guitar (la vihuela), Mexican bass guitar (guitarron), Mexican harp, marimba, accordion, glass armonica and assorted percussion. The tracks: "El Conejo," "La Bruja," (performed by Salma Heyek who plays Frida), "El Gusto" and "Carabina 30/30" are absolutely fabulous and provide excellent examples of authentic traditional Mexican folk music. Goldenthal adds a small orchestral accompaniment of primary strings to the mix.

The importance of song south of the border is pointed out in the linear notes also. In Mexico, song is everywhere - I lived there, I know. One is serenaded for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, etc.. There are several outstanding vocal performances here. One brilliant cut, "Paloma Negra," prerecorded by Chavela Vargas, (a tremendously popular Costa Rican/Mexican vocalist of the 1960's who sang "rancheras"), comes to mind. "Paloma Negra" was recorded about 40 years ago and the artist, now in her 80's, sings a second track, "La Llorona," live on screen - so the listener can contrast the diva's voice now and way back then. Vocalist Lila Downs plays a huge role in the success of this CD and the overall soundtrack. The sensual tango "Alcoba Azul" was written for her by Goldenthal, as were my favorites "Benediction and Dream," and "Burn it Blue" performed by Downs and much lauded Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso. I discovered the marvels of Ms. Downs voice and style while watching/listening to Frida for the first time, and have been a major fan ever since. Goldenthal integrates both song and score harmoniously. English and Spanish lyrics are featured in the album booklet.

The recording quality of the songs is excellent. There are 24 tracks and the play time is 52 minutes. I wish it were longer! Enhanced CD features include musical film excerpts, as well as a video conversation between Goldenthal and star Salma Hayek and text interviews with the composer and director Taymor.

This CD is a real winner!
JANA
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HALL OF FAMEon January 21, 2003
Elliot Goldenthal, the scorer of movies such as "Heat" and "Titus," comes back with a brilliant blend of traditional Mexican and original latin music to go with one of the best movies of 2002: Julie Taymor's "Frida," which earned him a Golden Globe this year. The soundtrack as a whole is simply outstanding, yet it has some peak moments: Lila Downs' performances, most specifically the opening track, 'Benediction and Dream,' the sexy tango 'Alcoba Azul' and the theme that plays during the closing titles, 'Burn it blue' which she performs with Brazilian super-star, Caetano Veloso. Also the rendition of "La Llorona" by Chavela Vargas is outstanding. The tracks that are part of his score work are also outstanding, and reminded me a lot of the music from the album "Ronroco" by Argentinian composer and producer, Gustavo Santaolallas. All in all, a very eclectic and hypnotizingly beautiful soundtrack with supreme good taste.
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on March 24, 2003
I was quite impressed when Elliot Goldenthal got the Golden Globe for original score, he was running against big composers such as Elmer Bernstein and Philip Glass. Then again at the Oscars he managed to win over Thomas Newman and John Williams. Well I can't say anything about the music in the movie, because "Frida" hasn't opened in Brazil yet, but I bought either way (I always buy nominated scores). What I can say is that the mexican spirit indeed is in Elliot's compositions. I was astonished with some very unusual tracks like "La Cavalera" and "Solo Tu", which captures your senses in a strange way. Some tracks have the sample of the theme song "Burn it Blue" which was beautifully sung by Caetano Veloso and Lila Downs. The lyrics are quite beautiful so is the composition. It isn't only a score CD, it has also some mexican artists that collaborated to create an atmosphere that takes your imagination through the mexican scenario. Salma Hayek herself sings in a song called "La Bruja" a rendition of a very popular song from a group called "Los Vegas" that sing with her as well.
Highlights (speaking about the score itself) go to "The Journey", "Still Life" and "Burning Bed".
It is wonderful and you'll be flabbergasted.
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on March 18, 2003
This cd will just blow your mind. It features newer artists like lila downs and old mexico type of artists that play traditional mexican music (not the usual norteno/ranchera) it is an emotional and colorful album and it is so amazing...it is very rich culturally...you will want to listen to these hauntingly beautiful songs over and over again. the soundtrack embodies everything frida was as a person, a painter, a female, a wife, a lover, a political figure...everything. it is sad, angry, happy drunk, crying, powerful,BEAUTIFUL.If you are a Frida fan, or just enjoy traditional Mexican music, or are trying to get into your hispanic/latin culture more(as I am)then I highly recommend this album!!
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on September 11, 2003
The entire CD is amazing. So passionate, it pains. The very last track, Burning Bed, sung by Caetano Veloso and Lila Downs is just so beautiful and what a way to end an album! This is a LIFE CD! BUY IT! Although I bought mine thru my CD club, BMG, it was cheaper, at $5 no s/h. Try [...]
The enhancements on the CD were great too. It showed the tango scene as well as Salma in the recording studio.
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on September 10, 2003
While this award winning score exists on one level in a symbiotic relationship with the film (also HIGHLY recommended), this album stands on it's own beautifully. In fact, it was the album that brought me to the movie! And while much of the music is very evocative of its subject, it also has an arc of its own. I find it difficult to skip songs while listening, although I am still (after many months) mesmerized by "Burn It Blue", sung by the incomparable Caetano Veloso (with Lila Downs). What makes this album magnificent for me is it's repetitive appeal, combined with it's ability to lead me to other places...next stop for me: the other film music of (the prodigious and brilliant) Elliot Goldenthal, and more Caetano Veloso! BUY this CD...you'll LOVE it!!!
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VINE VOICEon April 23, 2003
There are musical soundtracks that are lost in celluloid after the movie experience is over and than there are soundtracks like this. The music recreates the movie experience and has a life of it's own with this soundtrack. Beginning with the opening track by Lila Downs, her of the uncannny resemblance to Frida and three octave range, "Benediction and Dream," the listener is transported on a magical musical journey to a far away land close to your heart and soul. The lovely Lila Downs performs several other tracks including "Alcoba Azul "( The Blue Room") from the memorable tango scene between Tina Mondotti and Frida, a brief incantation on "Estrella Oscura" ( "Dark Star"), the haunting Mariachi version of "La Llorona"( "The Weeping Woman") and the fiery melodic finale duet with Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso entitled "Burn it Blue" ("Quememos La En Azul"). Selma Hayek also lends her vocal talents to a rambuntious version of "La Bruja"( "The Witch") that is great. There are so many good songs that all cannot be mentioned . It would be wrong to not mention the eerie version of "La Llorona" by the legendary Chavela Vargas as it is superb. There are excellent huapangos, trios and just pure musical genius composed by award winner Elliot Goldenthal that you will enjoy. You will love this festive, at times melancholic, at other times dreamy variety of Mexican folkloric music. Besides the fantasic music an additional bonus is the fact that this CD is enhanced for your viewing and listening pleasure on your computer. The enhaced features are very cool. The booklet is also very nice with pictures from the movie and complete bilingual lyrics to all the music. If you haven't seen the movie check it out; whether you have seen the movie or not this disc will create cinematic hues for your listening experience. A highly recommended disc for fans of a variety of Mexican musical styles.
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on April 20, 2003
it's funny, i bought this cd because i was so i love with the movie that i wanted to hold on to it as long as possible. i figured once that wore off, it would make great mood music to eat dinner or read to. but i find myself playing it all the time no matter what i'm doing. its beautiful, rich, sad and sexy... all the things the movie was and frida herself seemed to be. an added bonus, the lyrics to most songs are given in spanish and english. my favorite line is in la llorona (the weeping woman): "Yo soy como el chile verde, llorona, picante pero sabroso" (i am like the green chile, llorona, spicy but delicious."
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on January 4, 2006
Elliot Goldenthal captured the color of Mexico, the laughter of the Mexicans, the smell of its rich cuisine and the anguish of Frida Kahlo in each one of the arrangements to the songs in this CD. With Lila Downs and several other folk music singer/performers adding to the beauty of this album comes the powerful voice of Chavela Vargas, perhaps the best performer of Mexican songs ever. Her version of "La LLorona" and "Paloma Negra" are mind-blowing, superb, and ultimately beautiful. Her raspy voice together with Lila's vocal power make for an excellent album that Mexican folk music fans must have. Salma Hayek's performance of "La Bruja" is not bad either. The CD is entertaining, and perfect for a soirée with wine and of course, Frida Kahlo's art.
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