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Soundtrack review: The Cairo declaration (Ye Xiaogang and Chad Cannon – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Cairo declaration (Ye Xiaogang and Chad Cannon – 2015)


“The Cairo declaration” is a 2015 Chinese War epic. The 1943 meeting between Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill serves as the backdrop to international intrigue, a story of spies and traitors, as well as a subplot featuring Mao Zedong back in his Yan’an home base. The score was written by Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang  and American composer Chad Cannon. For me it’s the first time hearing a composition by either of them.

I don’t even have time to adjust my headphones and I am swept away by a gorgeous theme that just gives me goosebumps from the first seconds. Usually I have time to adjust to a score but this one starts with the most beautiful of Asian influenced dramatic cues I’ve heard in years. “Red star over China” is something I would love to see played live, in concert so I could bask in this musical bliss. The furious strings that come afterwards throw me in the middle of the war action and I quickly forget where I really am. “Air raid” reminds me of the intensity and emotion from Hans Zimmer’s “Pearl Harbor”.

I like how this score actually plays like war itself. You never expect war to come close to you, to come over you and you sometimes probably don’t even have time to prepare for it. The score uses the same effect to just surround the listener with a storm of instruments and melodies and you have to adjust on the go. The difference is we have to adjust to one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard this year. Just listen to the sensitive and touching “Blossoming romance”. Every cue on “The Cairo declaration” is as elegant and beautiful as a precious gem, be it rough and sharp or shiny and polished.

The dramatic moments are just as beautiful and emotional without being heavy. “America enters the war” and “Briefing Roosevelt” are some of my favorite moments from this score and I can’t get enough of them. The music is purely orchestral and I can feel the emotions building up inside me as the musical tide rises higher and higher.

The strengths of “The Cairo declaration” lie in the honesty of the music and in the balance between dramatic and tender. The music fits the story like a right uniform that also has a love letter in a pocket close to the chest.  This composition keeps me close not by force but with a gentle hand I don’t want to let go of. Do not miss one of the revelations of 2016 and one of the best war movie scores I’ve heard in quite some time.

Cue rating: 95 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 54

Album excellence: 70%


Red Star Over China

Air Raid

Blossoming Romance

Enemies of the Nazi Regime



America Enters the War

Briefing Roosevelt



The Cairo Declaration

War’s End

The Broadcast

Japanese Surrender

Mao at the Shore of the Yellow River




Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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