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Soundtrack review: Lacrimosa (Elia Cmiral feat Gheorghe Zamfir – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Lacrimosa (Elia Cmiral feat Gheorghe Zamfir – 2018)



In the short film LACRIMOSA, the young girl Mila wakes up in an unknown world full of mysteries. On her journey through ever changing surreal landscapes she meets her lover Theo. Mila has to learn that love also means to let go. Elia Cmiral wrote the score for this 17 minute short and most of it is helped by performances from Gheorghe Zamfir.

In my country Gheorghe Zamfir is a national treasure, a legend. He is probably one of the top 5 Romanians known across the world for his pan-flute craft and he’s played on the most important stages in the world. You might be familiar with his performances also from movies, especially “The lonely shepherd” which played as the end credits track on Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill volume 1”; he also performed with Ennio Morricone for “Once upon a time in America”. Even without Zamfir I would still have been a fan of the flute because that’s what James Horner instilled in me with the wondrous way in which he used this instrument on his scores.

It’s hard not to love the piercing emotion the pan flute evokes; it’s obvious from the opening titles. I am a deer in the headlights when the flute sound grips me as I am hypnotised and unable to move. And if the flute wasn’t enough, when Gheorghe Zamfir is not playing Elia Cmiral brings on the strings; “A ghost in the forest” brings a different kind of emotion, less lonely than that of the flute.

With a short film and score like this, a composer can either go minimalistic, textural, or soak each cue with emotion; Cmiral goes for the second option and makes his music as immersive as if I was walking side by side with young Mila through that mysterious world. Enchanted forests only work with orchestral cues for me, with woodwind instruments, with echoes, and the composer does it all right in “Lacrimosa”.

And then there’s the magical pan flute of Gheorghe Zamfir which drowns everything else and makes each cue it features on a gem, a piece of music to melt even the coldest of hearts. I seriously do not think anyone can resist the power and tenderness of the flute and even with a centre piece like this Elia Cmiral peppers piano and string motifs around it to complete his master work. The flute leads the way and the other instruments pick up the trail and follow.

“Lacrimosa” is a special kind of score for a special kid of story. There are far worse ways to spend 17 minutes of your lives.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Lacrimosa Opening Titles (feat. Georghe Zamfir)
Theo and Mila (feat. Georghe Zamfir)
Mila’s Memories (feat. Georghe Zamfir)
Lacrimosa End Titles (feat. Georghe Zamfir)

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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