Conducted by James Shearman
Emanuel Ax, piano
Sony SK 64429
East-West is a serviceable score, and often better than that. Doyle has by now earned his reputation as one of our most dependable composers for film, and his devotees will not be disappointed with this effort. East-West takes for its subject the struggle for survival of the human spirit, specifically the iron curtain's dead weight upon the human soul. Director Régis Wargnier says of his theme: "Plunged into a jar, man swims. What is this indomitable force, this spark deep in the human soul? It is the instinct for life ...". Having not seen the film, I cannot judge the success of Wargnier's effort to elucidate these truisms on a dramatic level (the revues are respectful of his success). Judging by Doyle's music, the struggle motif which dominates the subject has found an admirable equivalent in the turbulence of much of its Russian-inspired creativity. Ax and the orchestra (orchestrations are by the conductor and Lawrence Ashmore) share little in the way of Slavic melancholy, or even reflectiveness, as most of their assignment is agitato. Such repose has Doyle permits his score is handed to the strings. The inevitable ethnic music is not intrusive. In fact it supplies something of a balance to the disquiet that characterizes the background score. What triumph over adversity we meet with is found in its most confident form in the choral sections, where Doyle uses baritone Anatoly Fokonov in addition to the Bulgarian Mixed Choir. All told, a worthy addition to the composer's creative canon.
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