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Soundtrack review: Henry May long (Max Richter – 2009)

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Soundtrack review: Henry May long (Max Richter – 2009)

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“Henry May Long” is a 2008 drama. Henry May and Henry Long are old friends from college who have not seen each other in quite a while. They meet one day in the street by happy accident – or so it seems. They re-kindle their friendship and we discover that each needs the other, but for different reasons. Together they take a journey away from family and pressures in New York. In the harbor town of New Bedford, the truth comes out and changes each man irrevocably. Max Richter wrote the score.

Max Richter has emerged in the past couple of years as one of my favourite composers; ever since I heard his first score for “The leftovers” I have been touched by his emotional orchestral music that always sounds a bit more poignant and intense than others. He has a way of adding a real weight to his music even when he uses very few instruments and sometimes his cues have a requiem like quality. “Ocean house mirror”, the opening cue from “Henry May Long” is no different as the cello is sombre and elegant and breaks my heart right from the start. But it’s again an understandable emotion, a beautiful elegy, music that makes me feel. Even when it’s not front and centre the cello is used as an undertone, as a constant wave of sadness. Max Richter has a way of combining motifs that vary in tone and this makes some of his cues feel like paintings with different colours, some bright, some washed out, a mesmerising painting that moves me almost to tears.

“Henry May Long” reminds me a lot of “The leftovers”; it often has the same requiem like, sparse tone created by the slowly and carefully played cello. The contrast is brought on by the piano which is played more aggressively, more poignantly in repetitive motifs that mimic a continouis internal agitation; every now and then, like in “Ending doorway pavement” the sound of the two instruments builds up and they crash in the climax of a furious cue to turn the respectful elegy into emotional rage. And Max Richter does all this with just the use of two instruments throughout this score, two instruments that when played right can create an entire soundscape, beautiful and meaningful.

Max Richter’s music here is like the endless sand that builds up into castles and shapes which are then torn down and turned back into separate grains that slip through the fingers before crafty hands put them together again into maybe different, but equally beautiful shapes. His music moves continuously, evolves, changes shape while staying poignant and, ultimately, heartbreaking. I am just one lonely spectator watching one lonely composer turn simple piano and, sometimes, cello sounds intro multi dimensional shapes that play complex emotional scenes. So much can come from so little and I feel like I am looking at a dark stage that has on it a small projector that once turned on fills up the entire theatre with light, images, scenes, voices, all of them coming from that one single, small, minimalistic object. “Henry May Long” is another flawless score from a magnificent composer.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 34

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
Ocean House Mirror
Stairs Abyss Starlight
Exit Top Hat Greeting
Waiting For Sunlight Evening
Interior Tears An Idea
Endings Doorway Pavement
Farewell Threshold Laudanum
Sofa Chess
Interior Horses
Whale Window Hotel
A Candle And Half A Pear
Powder Pills Truth
The Young Mariner
Dinner And The Ship Of Dreams

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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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