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Anna Karenina
American Cover

International Cover

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
Dario Marianelli

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Benjamin Wallfisch

Decca Records

Release Date:
November 13th, 2012

Also See:
Pride & Prejudice

Audio Clips:
3. She is of the Heavens (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. Unavoidable (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

16. Leaving Home and Coming Home (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

24. Seriously (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular commercial release, with different cover art internationally.

  Nominated for a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award.

Anna Karenina

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Buy it... if you noted the superior combination of Russian folk and classical waltz techniques in the context of the film and have less interest in hearing Dario Marianelli's faintly functional romance writing.

Avoid it... if you expect your heart to be moved by the melodrama of this tragic tale of societal asininity, the lack of depth in the romantic element of the music causing this score to rotate between grim, cold undertones and source-like applications.

Anna Karenina: (Dario Marianelli) The tragedy in Leo Tolstoy's 1877 novel is not the death that highlights its later parts, but the fact that humans have behaved in such insipidly stupid ways throughout their reign on this planet. With ridiculous societal mores and a total lack of personal self-control on display in a historical romance such as the one that exists here, it only makes you wish that more characters had killed themselves earlier in the plot. The 2012 adaptation of the classic tale of Russian high society comes from director Joe Wright and Working Title Films, who, along with lead actress Keira Knightley, developed the popular historical dramas Pride & Prejudice and Atonement in the 2000's. While Anna Karenina was always a depressing topic, Wright emphasizes the cheap romance novel aspects of the tale rather than truly tackling enough of the larger civil rights issues involved. Knightley, as the titular Russian socialite Anna, can't decide whether to dedicate her affections to the statesman who is her husband or the younger cavalry officer who sweeps her off her feet, yielding an entire story of bad timing, hurt feelings, and emotional breakdowns that makes you want to slap every character upside the face with a large fish. Repeatedly. Critics and audiences must have agreed to some extent, for Anna Karenina did not become the arthouse success of its predecessors despite continued love from awards bodies. That recognition extended from Knightley's heralded performance to the challenging score by Italian composer Dario Marianelli. A veteran of the historical drama genre and Wright's earlier successes, Marianelli has made a career out of writing music that bridges the realm of historical anguish and modern sensibilities, led by his immense achievement for Agora in 2009. His more traditional period scores for the Wright films are where he has earned his gold, however, and while he proves himself capable of generating very effective source-like music for such assignments, they have become increasingly difficult to find accessible for modern ears. Such troubles especially apply to Anna Karenina, which is clearly more tailored to its story's time and location than similar scores from Marianelli. The stage on which Anna Karenina is conveyed forced him to treat the topic with even more attention to historical detail in the music, demanding a combination of Russian folk and classical waltz techniques that result in one of the composer's less accessible works despite serving the film well enough to be deemed a success. Regardless of the composer's keen ability to merge these genres of music,, Anna Karenina is a very flawed score when you evaluate it through the lens of tortured romance.

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The commendable aspects of Marianelli's approach to Anna Karenina is his ability to seemingly effortlessly weave together the folk and waltz movements into a single identity that really does set the stage well for the literal and figurative dancing involved between the characters in the plot. Much of the first half of the score is dominated by this musical play, prancing with ethnic authenticity through situations as frivolous and pretentious as those that existed in Russian socialite society. The orchestra, led by numerous violin solos, is joined by balalaikas and accordions to provide this flavor, highlighted by the amusing "She is of the Heavens," which also features whistling and sung folk elements. While effective, these cues diminish the weight associated with the mores that squashed civil rights during that era (perhaps an intentional choice by Marianelli), and, more importantly, they fail to establish the gravity of importance that the romantic tug-of-war will inevitably cause this story due to those values and customs. It takes the score a very long time arrive at some of the weighty melodrama that Marianelli is accustomed to writing, and even then, it remains rather tepid and unfitting of such grandiose aristocratic mechanisms. The composer does utilize a handful of thematic motifs throughout, most of them waltz-related, but none is specifically tailored to individual characters. Rather, Marianelli chose to associate his themes with general emotional conditions, thus allowing them to weave in and out of otherwise incongruent scenes as a way of tying all of the characters together in a reflection of the mores themselves. The primary of these ideas is introduced in "Overture" and continues all the way through "Curtain," only receiving significant attention from the whole ensemble as the story approaches its crushing end. Instrumental solos are once again key to another of Marianelli's works, this time with the violin, clarinet, and piano at the forefront (you can hear their interplay best in "Unavoidable"). A lack of either pizzazz or depth causes this music to flow aimlessly as background accompaniment, however, never utilizing itself as a true tool of romance. Source-like cues such as "Can-Can" and "Seriously" don't help the equation, leaving the whole experience a cold one. Marianelli seemed stuck between the romantic needs of the characters and the flighty ambience of their lifestyle, and the score therefore fails to integrate them with much satisfaction. There are many technical aspects of this work to like (the intentional degeneration of "Dance With Me" among them), but Anna Karenina is a love story at its heart, and this score remains too frigid and inaccessible to function as it should. If you approach this music with the expectation that you will hear some of the passion of the composer's prior period projects, be forewarned; this one is grimly and coolly capricious. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Dario Marianelli reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.67 (in 9 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.31 (in 4,790 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.08 Stars
Smart Average: 3.07 Stars*
***** 31 
**** 39 
*** 38 
** 32 
* 27 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Weird rating.
  Bernardo -- 4/11/13 (4:12 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 55:15

• 1. Overture (3:20)
• 2. Clerks (1:06)
• 3. She is of the Heavens (2:00)
• 4. Anna Marches Into a Waltz (0:58)
• 5. Beyond the Stage (1:24)
• 6. Kitty's Debut (2:36)
• 7. Dance With Me (4:22)
• 8. The Girl and the Birch (1:01)
• 9. Unavoidable (1:42)
• 10. Can-Can (2:01)
• 11. I Don't Want You to Go (4:58)
• 12. Time For Bed (1:04)
• 13. Too Late (2:02)
• 14. Someone is Watching (1:27)
• 15. Lost in a Maze (2:10)
• 16. Leaving Home and Coming Home (2:04)
• 17. Masha's Song (1:36)
• 18. A Birthday Present (4:18)
• 19. At the Opera (1:27)
• 20. I Know How to Make You Sleep (2:27)
• 21. Anna's Last Train (3:53)
• 22. I Understood Something (3:19)
• 23. Curtain (1:53)
• 24. Seriously (2:07)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the composer about the score.

  All artwork and sound clips from Anna Karenina are Copyright © 2012, Decca Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/31/13 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2013-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.