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The Red Violin
Album Cover Art
Composed and Orchestrated by:
John Corigliano

Conducted by:
Esa-Pekka Salonen

Violin Solos by:
Joshua Bell

Performed by:
The Philharmonia Orchestra

Produced by:
Matthias Gohl
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Sony Classical
(May 18th, 1999)
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Regular U.S. release. A European release with a different cover was available in October of 1998.
Winner of an Academy Award and nominated for a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are either an established enthusiast of John Corigliano's concert works or appreciate modern classical crossover styles in your film scores.

Avoid it... if you expect this score to sound like anything other than an arthouse venture, for Corigliano's dramatic range, while effective for the film, is extremely limited in its high-pitched tones and constricted dynamic scope.
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WRITTEN 6/29/99, REVISED 9/8/08
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The Red Violin: (John Corigliano) The extremely unique story of The Red Violin is what propelled it to moderate arthouse success, winning it a single Academy Award for its score. Director François Girard and his co-writer, Don McKellar, were fond of telling stories from many perspectives, and in the case of The Red Violin, the narrative follows the life of a famed violin from its birth in 1681 to its restoration and sale in 1997. The film shifts from the auction house to each major period in the history of the instrument, never straying from its focus on the inanimate object long enough to truly develop any of the characters who come across its path. This lack of development of any of the human characters is what restrained The Red Violin from receiving top critical marks; no matter how compelling the story of an object can be, it cannot rival the connection that the audience would rather form with a person. With people that are often shallow, The Red Violin relies on the immense history of the instrument, as well as some surprising shenanigans in the 1990's portion of the story, to float audience interest. Girard obviously knew that the score for the film was going to be of significant importance, and he sought the services of opera, concert house, and classical writer John Corigliano to provide a convincing aural personality for the violin. The New York-based Corigliano was already extremely respected for his modern compositions, and his limited film score work has translated much of that popularity to the soundtrack-collecting community. The Red Violin was only the composer's third film score, with the Oscar-nominated 1980 score for Altered States still widely respected. His tarnished experience on 1985's obscure Revolution led him back to his comfort zone, though he would receive fame in the movie business once again when his work for The Red Violin won the Oscar in somewhat of an upset. His fans have always embraced the career of Elliot Goldenthal, a pupil of Corigliano who has translated many of the composer's techniques into his own highly varied and distinctly stylistic film scores. Goldenthal's fan base is likely to be attracted to the sensibilities that Corigliano establishes in The Red Violin, a score aimed at a very specific listening audience.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.28 Stars
***** 426 5 Stars
**** 459 4 Stars
*** 496 3 Stars
** 328 2 Stars
* 218 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Screw it! It's still technically outstanding.
Richard Kleiner - September 17, 2011, at 9:49 p.m.
1 comment  (1252 views)
Character development is not always imperative
Mariah - June 21, 2011, at 2:09 p.m.
1 comment  (1241 views)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
Christian Lauliac - September 7, 2008, at 5:55 p.m.
1 comment  (2171 views)
Hear the Red Violin Suite in concert on the actual "Red Mendelssohn"
NM - January 2, 2008, at 9:24 a.m.
1 comment  (2929 views)
Excellent album
Sheridan - October 14, 2006, at 4:17 a.m.
1 comment  (2678 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 66:08
• 1. Anna's Theme (2:50)

• 2. Main Title (2:42)
• 3. Death of Anna (1:44)
• 4. Birth of the Red Violin (3:05)
• 5. The Red Violin (1:34)

• 6. The Monastery (1:06)
• 7. Kaspar's Audition; Journey to Vienna (2:38)
• 8. Etudes; Death of Kaspar (2:48)

• 9. The Gypsies; Journey Across Europe (2:07)
• 10. Pope's Gypsy Cadenza (1:37)
• 11. Coitus Musicalis; Victoria's Departure (4:40)
• 12. Pope's Concert (1:22)
• 13. Pope's Betrayal (3:00)

• 14. Journey to China (4:10)
• 15. People's Revolution; Death of Chou Yuan (3:15)

• 16. Morritz Discovers the Red Violin (3:38)
• 17. Morritz's Theme (1:54)
• 18. The Theft (2:10)
• 19. End Titles (1:46)

• 20. "The Red Violin:" Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra (17:37)

Notes Icon
The insert includes notes from both John Corigliano and François Girard about the film and score (translated into several different languages). Corigliano's comments are as follows:

    "I was delighted to accept when asked to compose the score for François Girard's fascinating new film The Red Violin; how could I turn down so interesting a journey through almost three centuries, beginning as it did in Cremona, home of history's greatest violin builders? I also welcomed the producer's offer to separately create a violin and orchestra concert piece, to be freely based on motives from the film.

    I'd assumed that, as usual in film, I wouldn't be required to write the score until the film was completed, except for a number of on-camera "cues," or occasions in which the film's characters themselves perform. So I then composed a singable theme, hummed by the violin master's wife Anna, which mutates into a solo violin melody. Underpinning the theme is an inexorable seven-chord chaconne, evoking the Tarot and the fate it signals; and several solo etudes, drawn from Anna's theme, for the two virtuosi of the Vienna and Oxford sequences.

    Then plans changed. Filming, meant to conclude early this summer, was pushed back till early fall; performances of the concert piece, though, remained set for late November. Consequently the concert piece, the Chaconne, was built just on the materials I had - a good thing, as it turns out, because I now had the freedom, as well as the need, to explore these materials to a greater extent than I might have, had I been expected to condense an hour's worth of music into a coherent single movement. Thus, in a curiously backwards way, the film's underscoring drew much of its inspiration from the concert work, played by Joshua Bell on this recording."
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Red Violin are Copyright © 1999, Sony Classical and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/29/99 and last updated 9/8/08.
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