44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2010
A Single Man is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, and marks the directorial debut of writer/director and former fashion designer Tom Ford. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it tells the story of a British college professor George (Colin Firth) who, following the death of his long-time homosexual partner, struggles to find meaning in his life. The film is already a critical success, with Colin Firth tipped to receive his first Academy Award nomination for his performance, and has also seen recognition for the score by 37-year-old Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his work.
Korzeniowski's score is best described as a combination of the string-based classicism of Michael Nyman and the minimalism of Philip Glass, albeit with much more beautiful themes and a warmer, more inviting tone than either men usually produce. By far the most notable piece is the lush and opulent second cue, "Drowning", which opens with a mesmerizing harp glissando, before launching into a glorious waltz theme, full of rich harmonies, dancing violins, and velvety cello chords that are simply magnificent. Later, cues such as the graceful "The Stillness of Mind", "Snow", "Daydreams", the joyous "Swimming", the unbearably poignant "And Just Like That", the expressive "Sunset", and the stark, rhythmic "Clock Tick" feature some truly wonderful string writing, often prominently featuring gorgeous cellos, and are based around repeated motivic cells of recurring material, over which the main solo instrumental melody is laid. It's an enticing, thoroughly engrossing sound, which is technically minimalist, but reaches far beyond the staid sterility that some minimalist pieces can have.
Other cues, notably "Becoming George", "Mescaline" and "Going Somewhere", replace the strings with a lilting piano line to equally positive effect, although more often than not the piano is not meant to be romantic, but to be somewhat more introspective. In addition to Korzeniowski's score, the album also features three cues from Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi, best known to audiences in the west for his score to House of Flying Daggers in 2004. Umebayashi's main contributions are beautiful "George's Waltz" cues, delicate pieces full of weeping violins and a stately, refined air. His other major contribution, the cue "Carlos", is no less beautiful, and features another sumptuous cello performance that simply shines. The album is rounded out by several source music cuts from artists as varied as Etta James, Booker T. & The MG's and even an opera track from Catalani's La Wally performed by Miriam Gauci, all of which are fine, but this is all about the score. With this score, and the animated sci-fi film Battle for Terra earlier in the year, Abel Korzeniowski has announced himself to the film music world in the loudest possible voice, and I can't wait to hear what he does next.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
Absolutely the best soundtrack I've heard in several years. The songs are haunting, yet they invite you in to listen to each and every one of them. I listened to clips from the movie's website before I saw the film, and appreciated the soundtrack more while viewing it. The song from the swimming scene is especially powerful. If this doesn't win the Oscar for Best Soundtrack, I don't know what will. Thank you, Tom Ford, for insisting on a great soundtrack for your directorial debut.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2010
This is such a beautiful soundtrack which captures the mood and undertone of Tom Ford's stylistic directorial debut wonderfully and insightfully with a moving, melancholy score. The score's effect is similar to another beautiful soundtrack, Pollock. I highly recommend the film and the soundtrack.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
So often when viewing a film as fine as A SINGLE MAN the components that add to the story and the acting and the direction, if they are truly well done, go unnoticed. And perhaps that is the real mark of a fine musical score: it underscores the mood and propels the story along without calling attention to itself. But after repeated viewings of this particular film on DVD the music finally can be appreciated for what it is.
The personality of George, so very shattered by the news that opens the film, is captured by the beauty of Abel Korzeniowski: he understands when to use silences, when to meld the aqueous memories of swimming underwater with the solitary moments of this stoic man who have just been notified that his partner of 16 years has been killed. He turns to his own music (Miriam Gauci singing the beautiful aria "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" from Catalani's opera LA WALLY - a song about leaving home for the last time - just the right aria for a man who is planning his suicide), and as his mind remembers the beautiful times with his love Jim the music becomes impossibly beautiful - a mixture of full orchestra with interludes of piano alone.
The story, being set in the 1960s, also makes use of old standards form Jo Stafford ('Blue Moon'), Etta James ('Stormy Weather') and the fun of George dancing the twist with Charley (Charlotte) to the tune of 'Green Onions' by Booker T. and the MGs. In addition to the subtleties of Korzeniowski's score, there are moments with the brief but eloquent music of Shigeru Umebayashi is introduced as contrast. Overall the mixing and the musical foundation fits the magic of this superb film and offers the sound forum for the acting gifts of Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult. A fine CD all by itself - for memory's sake. Grady Harp, August 10
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2010
Althought I didnt see the movie (not launched in Argentina yet) this soundtrack is exquisite. By the same author of In the mood for love (Wong Kar Wai film), the music here has the same atmosphere. There's a beautiful hommage to Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score too. Dramatic but touching.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2011
I saw this film a few months ago, and while watching it I kept focusing my attention to the music (maybe even a little bit more than the film itself). Both the film and soundtrack are wonderful. I listen to this soundtrack many times a week and the pieces- each of which has its own personality and are full of emotion- never cease to capture my attention.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2010
This is a wonderful score. I can't recommend this CD enough. It reminds me of the score Michael Nyman did for End of the Affair and some of the work Phillip Glass has done in the movies, particularly The Hours. But this is one of the finest scores of recent years. I couldn't wait to buy it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
The music to "A Single Man" is exceptional. It is perhaps the most beautiful soundtrack I have ever heard. There are two different composers who capture
George's (Collin Firth) emotional roller coaster. Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru
Umebayashi should have gotten best musical score at the Academy Awards. Tom Ford
who directed, wrote the best parts of the screen play and produced it should have received best picture, best director in 2010. I am sure Tom Ford was instrumental in the music also as far as what he wanted to convey in the music emotionally, as he did frame by frame
to perfection in his screen play. The violins are haunting through out the main
theme. You can visualize every scene in the movie, just through the music. I can't say enough good things about the soundtrack and the movie.
I give it my highest rating and of course, I bought the movie too.