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Soundtrack review: The Italian key (Tuomas Kantelinen – 2011)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Italian key (Tuomas Kantelinen – 2011)

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“The Italian Key” is a movie from 2011, directed by Rosa Karo. The film tells the story of 19-year old Cabella who receives a mysterious key as her only inheritance from her recently deceased uncle. The girl decides to literally unlock the secrets of her past by moving to a run-down villa in Italy. She slowly makes friends with three sisters and also befriends the ghost of a nine-year-old chimney sweeper named Angelo who died in the house long ago. Together with her new friends, Cabella starts to learn more about her mysterious past as she also rediscovers her “joie de vivre”. The music was written by Tuomas Kantelinen, a composer who’s been on my radar since his stunning score for “Mongol” a few years ago and who is the husband of the director.

Caldera doesn’t release many scores every year but when they do, it’s usually a score that will end up among the most beautiful compositions I’ve heard in said year; out of all the record labels in my personal score index Caldera has the highest average rating and for good reason as they choose some of the most stunning orchestral compositions to be part of their exquisite catalogue. The “Prologue” of “The Italian key” might be something special for another label but in this case it’s normal to hear such beautiful and rich orchestral music. Then comes the piano, the best instrument there is, creator of magic and “Alexander’s piano” is everything I could hope for from a piano theme. The mood of this score is lush and romantic and four cues in I’ve already heard clearly identifiable themes for Alexander, Chiara and Max to anchor this score and separate the emotional traits of each characters music.

Once the themes are presented the score continues on an elegant and subdued tone; this is not an epic or furious orchestral composition as the composer went for a more detailed and sombre tone. “The Italian key” is pure drama, beautiful and dark, melodic and with a few well placed and meaningful bursts of emotion. It’s a sad score mostly but the sadness in the music is not burdening; Tuomas Kantelinen knows how to make his music poignant and heart breaking when he needs to like in my favourite cue from “The Italian key”, “Mother’s tears”; it’s one of those cues so moving and emotional that I get goosebumps from the first seconds until it’s over. This is a piece of music that sounds unreally beautiful and I just feel the need to play it again. In order to balance the deeper moments the composer brings playful pieces like “Twins” or “Sister’s pizzicato”.

As I’ve always said I listen to film music in order to feel; it doesn’t matter if it’s good feelings, bad feelings but music needs to make me feel. With “The Italian key” I’ve had goosebumps and my heart beat faster at some moments while marvelling at the innocence at others. There is a special kind of warmth in Tuomas Kantelinen’s composition and once again Caldera keeps its record of releasing only scores that make an unforgettable impression.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 52

Album excellence: 75%

Highlights:
Prologue
Alexander’s Piano
Chiara’s Theme
Everyone’s Lost Someone
Angelo’s Goodbye
Mother’s Tears
Cabella
Daydream Swimming
Ghost Boy
How Do You Mend a Broken Heart
In This Life
Sunflower Field
Epilogue

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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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