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Craig ARMSTRONG (b. 1958)
World Trade Center – Original Music from the Motion Picture
Alison Lawrence (cello)
Susie Stevens Logan (soprano)
Craig Armstrong (piano)
Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra and Hollywood Film Chorale/Craig Armstrong
rec. Newman Scoring Stage 20th Century Fox Studios, 2006. DDD
SONY CLASSICAL 82876 880572 [57:35]


Probably the two most affecting aspects of a film are its look and the music that is chosen to accompany that visual aspect. The cinematographer is responsible for the former - not, as some believe, the director - the composer is responsible for the latter. But in the case of the movie World Trade Center both had to be balanced just right or the film would have devolved into bathos or patriotic hysteria — of which both director Oliver Stone is eminently capable.  However, by the time you read this, World Trade Center should have already seen both its American and European release dates. Word is that Mr. Stone balances all of the possible emotions one can feel about the events of September 11th in an extraordinary, and perhaps even understated manner. The movie is a powerful document of the heroism of two average police officers of the NYPD who rise to the call of duty on that fateful day.

In World Trade Center, Stone focuses on the two officers, played by Nicholas Cage and Michael Peña and their wives, played by Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The music on this disc doesn’t waver much in depicting the heartfelt emotion Stone conjures for these protagonists as the day unfolds. The music is quite melancholy and evocative of just about everything everyone felt that day (except for anger and rage), particularly in relation to those who had gone to the rescue and were still lost in the white haze and pulverized remains of several buildings and nearly three-thousand human beings.

The score revolves around a simple theme, opening with the cello; the piece is then repeated a couple more times with the piano as the solo instrument.  The disc also has a few moments of coloratura soprano and an ethereal background choir. Again, this is mostly for mood. This is very beautiful music, even though it’s all of a piece. I am not familiar with Craig Armstrong as a composer of film music — right now he seems to have much in common with James Newton Howard - but I can imagine that years from now, a small suite of pieces from this music might be cobbled together lasting, perhaps, twelve to fifteen minutes. This is the downside of sound-track CDs that have to fill at least 60 minutes’ worth of music in order to be marketable.

To give credit where credit is due, this disc can be played over and over again. The music never becomes too melancholic and indeed has flights of drama particularly in “The Drive Downtown” when the two officers become aware of what’s just befallen their city. Very powerful stuff — and it helped Oliver Stone get everything absolutely right.

Paul Cook


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