CD: Desert Dancer (2014)

May 6, 2015 | By


DesertDancer2014Score: Excellent

Label:  Varese Sarabande

Released:  April 15, 2015


Tracks / Album Length:  12 tracks / (44:29)

Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch

Special Notes:  n/a




Based on the life of Iranian dance choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian, the music for Desert Dancer functions as a discrete, almost ambient sonic work. Most of the cues are performed by strings with hints of Persian instruments and harmonics, and while not abstract, Benjamin Wallfisch’s score emphasizes subtext and atmosphere, presenting themes in very reserved guises – an approach that perhaps suits Ghaffarian’s own circumstances in having to be cautious, discrete, and hesitant about how far he was able to push artistic statements under a repressive regime.

Wallfisch’s score begins with a lengthy thematic statement for chamber strings, with rising chords capturing the struggle and nobility of an artist gradually coming into his own, rebelling against political and religious arbitrators. Unfurling like an adagio, “Afshin’s Theme” leads into a series of shorter variations where Wallfisch employs sustained chords, a distant female voice, and dulcimer, building his material towards the score’s meatier midsection where dual dulcimers merge in “We Can Breathe,” percussion and strained harmonics dominate the lengthy “Desert Dancer,” and wispy notes shimmer within “Withdrawal,” the last a rather remarkable cue in which solo violin has a glassy tone that rises over hesitant strings and soft piano.

A plaintive female voice returns in the brief “Silent Protest,” and the score closes with the nearly quiet “Dance is My Weapon” and “Where No One Else Can See You,” the latter providing an emotional resolution with warm chords, decisive tones, and a subtle, victorious theme version on electric guitar which dominates the cue, but remains respectfully tender.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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