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  • Stefan Riedlinger

The House Of The Spirits - Hans Zimmer - Soundtrack Review

I went to San Francisco and New York for job interviews and also attend the Hans Zimmer concert in Mannheim, Germany, so it took me more time than usual to post another review. It was the first concert in Germany ever for Hans Zimmer, and he was giving a great performance with his friends and a small orchestra. The concert gave a good overview of his work with tracks from early scores and also the heavy action tracks in the most recent ones. Hans spoke to the audience in a very personal way, and I was really touched when he said that he lost his father when he was six years old, and therefore, the “Lion King” was a very personal score.

The movie

“The House of the Spirits” is a 1993 German-Danish-Portuguese period drama directed by Bille August and starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Winona Ryder, Antonio Banderas and Vanessa Redgrave. The supporting cast includes María Conchita Alonso, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Jan Niklas. Here you can see the original trailer:

The German producer Bernd Eichinger (1949-2011) was the best producer we had in Germany. His idea was to create big event movies that are timeless and will live forever. His first great success was “The Name Of The Rose”, based on Umberto Eco’s book, starring Sean Connery, and with a score by James Horner.

“The House Of The Spirits”, based on the 1982 novel “La Casa de los Espíritus” by Isabel Allende, is about the life of a young lady named Clara during the military dictatorship in Chile, and her recollection of her family history, mainly the rise of her husband, Esteban Trueba. The novel was the debut novel by Isabel Allende, and the book was rejected by several Spanish-language publishers before being published in Buenos Aires in 1982. It became an instant best seller, was critically acclaimed, and catapulted Allende to literary stardom.

I found a YouTube critic about the book here:

The music

Critics say that Hans Zimmer was in a transitional period of his career at the time when he was composing this music. He composed the music to a bunch of very successful movies before, but was not considered to be amongst the film music A-list composers.

In my opinion, this early score is still one of the best scores, and it shows that Hans is really able to compose lovely and touching music without putting too many electronics in it. I still prefer this kind of music instead of his heavy action tracks, and still have some trouble to enjoy scores such as “Man of Steel”.

The music was arranged by Hans and Nick Glennie-Smith, who did also the orchestrations, together with Fiachra Trench. Irish composer and orchestrator Trench undertook also the orchestrations of Hans Zimmer’s “Fools Of Fortune”, also one of his early scores and a score that is worth discovering again, a great one!

The score is arranged into five suites, and for me, the opening suite is the best of the score. It introduces a lovely melody for woodwinds before the whole orchestra opens up. Most of the suite focus on the main melody for the movie. I really love this romantic music, and especially when you just know Hans from his action music, it is very inspiring to discover this site of the composer.

Listen to it here:

The next track “Clara” is even more romantic, and it ends with the lovely main theme played on the piano, one of the most beautiful tracks Hans ever composed, and after listening to this track, I was deeply in love with Hans Zimmer’s music and started to buy his soundtracks.

“Coup” starts romantic, but with the beginning of the middle part, the more dramatic music starts with percussions and brass. I heard that Hans was not so satisfied with the performance of the German orchestra in general, and in this track, I have the feeling, you can understand why.

“Pedro and Blanca”, track 4, starts with a nice solo part on the clarinet, and this track is another highlight of the score. This music gives you a great musical expression of loneliness and sadness, wonderfully composed. We have also a nice solo guitar here, but the reason I really love this track is the usage of the percussions that starts after two minutes.

The last suite “Clara’s Ghost / La Paloma / Closing Titles” is a strange one because after a few minutes, we listen to a folk song that interrupts the music flow and because of the recording of this song, it gives us the feeling that this is a source song. I still cannot understand why they did not put this song as an extra track at the end because each time, I am listening to this last track, I feel that the song is too long and quite annoying. The closing music for this score repeats the main theme in a very nice arrangement and brings the album to an end.

“The House Of The Spirits” is one of the not so well-known scores of Hans, one reason might be that the movie did not so well as expected. It is still enjoyable to see, especially because of the great cast. I love this soundtrack, and I wish Hans to have now more time to compose more music like this and leave the heavy action tracks behind.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2016, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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