“Mathilde” tells the story of the supposed romantic relationship between the heir to the Russian throne, Nicholas Romanov, and the ballerina of the Imperial Theater, Matilda Kshesinskaya. The story opens with the first meeting between the 22-year-old crown prince and 18-year-old ballerina in 1890, then follows the tormented affair up until the coronation of Nicholas and his wife Aleksandra in 1896. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the revolution that lead to the tsar’s abdication. A Russian drama is something I always want to see and I hope Marco Beltrami does incorporate Russian elements in his music.
The excitement with such a versatile and chameleon like composer is that his name can pop up on any kind of project, from horror to historical drama and it’s still a guarantee that enjoyment will be had. “Mathilde” opens with “Twilight of the empire” which is a violin based theme with a chamber, intimate feel as opposed to the epic sound I was expecting. The composer adds the brass section for a feeling of turbulence and mystery and this ends up as a proper chase theme that ushers me into a world of intrigue. The sound is a blend of modern and period as Beltrami couldn’t help himself to bring that personal touch of mischief. Romance follows instantly and once again the composer trades broad for personal with intimate piano and string motifs. Once again there is a sweeping motif that hides in there as if behind an iron gate, fighting to get out.
While enjoyable the sound of the score is lighter than I would have expected but this is only related to my own personal idea about how heavy or epic a Russian historical drama score should sound like. The score also sounds more modern with Beltrami’s electronic inserts which don’t always relate well to the period when the story takes place. This is just nitpicking though in relation to the movie because both the romantic and the action moments are orchestral gems written and performed with either care or passion and stride. I find myself curious to hear what happens next and invested in the musical story. Marco Beltrami also gives a nod to his horror preferences with the creepy “Fishel’s holograph” which makes me think of alchemists and mad scientists.
Ultimately “Mathilde” is a dark and suspenseful score anchored in a romantic theme and Marco Beltrami pulls it off. Action moments and tense moments dance together to the sound of strings and piano, here slow and trembling, there furious and lively and the electronic juice that fuels some of the action pieces ties them together. There were times when the atmosphere reminded me of the dark moors or Britain rather than the white plains of Russia but, as expected, enjoyment was had as the score was captivating and each cue moved it further. There’s a lot to pick from this one depending on which mood you like more but for me it’s a score to be listened to and enjoyed as a whole, from start to finish.
Cue rating: 84 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 60
Album excellence: 34%
Twilight of the Empire