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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 08
Soundtrack for Madonna's W.E. is elegant and fitting
Arts & Entertainment
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Soundtrack for Madonna's W.E. is elegant and fitting

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

When the Academy Award nominations were announced this year for Best Original Score, there was one glaring omission from the chosen five: Abel Korzeniowski's sweeping musical backdrop for the film W.E., a directorial second for Madonna, was unforgivingly ignored on a list that included two entries from John Williams. Making matters worse, this is the second time Oscar has side-stepped Korzeniowski; his gorgeous soundtrack for 2009's A Single Man also went unrecognized.

W.E.: Music from the Motion Picture was recorded last year at world-renowned Abbey Road Studios in London and features a 60-piece orchestra on many of the album's 12 tracks. Included, as well, is Madonna's Golden Globe-winning song 'Masterpiece' at the finale.

The film centers on the relationship between an American divorcee and King Edward VIII of England, who chose love over royalty when his companion, Wallis Simpson, was frowned upon by society. At the heart of the story is a romance seen through the eyes of a New Yorker several decades later, though the film also boasts drama and intrigue.

Polish-born Korzeniowski seems to grasp the emotional elements, much like he did in A Single Man, that are happening in the movie with lush approach; everything sounds beautiful and you're certainly transported to a place and time far away. If you've ever walked down a cobblestone street on a misty night in Berlin or Paris, you'll be taken back to that moment when listening to the piano-driven 'Abdication' or the opening number 'Charms.' There's an early '30s-'40s Euro-classical style to W.E. that somewhat defined the era, and it appears similarly in soundtracks for Schindler's List and The Pianist.

But whereas A Single Man was moodier and quieter, W.E. is more orchestrated and of a grander scale. 'Revolving Door' and 'Six Hours' are both highlighted by lush string arrangements; the latter is simply breathless. Not to be overlooked, 'Masterpiece' - the only entry with lyrics - solidifies Madonna's songwriting chops; honestly, Elton John had no reason to complain about losing at the Globes to this tune. It's not Madge's best song written for a film ('This Used to Be My Playground' still reigns supreme), but it's memorable and ties in with W.E.'s overall theme nicely.

With or without Oscar's help, Korzeniowski is fast becoming one of the top composers in the film score arena. W.E.: Music from the Motion Picture, a 2011 Golden Globe nominee, is worth a listen. The soundtrack is now available at all record stores, while the movie is currently in theaters. W.E.'s lone Academy Award nomination is for Best Costume Design.

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