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Soundtrack review: Michele Strogoff (Marco Frisna – 2010)


Soundtrack review: Michele Strogoff (Marco Frisna – 2010)


“Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar”is a novel written by Jules Verne in 1876. Critics, including Leonard S. Davidow, writing from Reading, Pennsylvania, in his 1937 introduction to The Spencer Press reprint as a volume in its “Classic Romances of Literature” series consider it one of Verne’s best books. Davidow wrote, “Jules Verne has written no better book than this, in fact it is deservedly ranked as one of the most thrilling tales ever written.” Unlike some of Verne’s other novels, it is not science fiction, but a scientific phenomenon (Leidenfrost effect) is a plot device. In 1999 Fabrizio Costa adapted the story in a TV movie “Michele Strogoff” with a score by Marco Frisina who impressed me with “Christus”.
I know the world of Jules Verne because I grew up in it. When I was a kid I’ve spent countless hours in my room reading the adventures he created, fantasizing about being part of them or trying to write something similar. For me his name was synonym with adventure. I am happy to discover that this score’s action moments match the vivid dreams of teenage me in spectacle and intensity. I’ve missed a good adventure score.
This being written by an Italian composer I smile when I hear the romance in “Tema di Nadia”; this is why I will always love the Italian school of film music the most: nobody can write natural romance music like the Italians or a magnificent exception like John Barry. Italian composers have romance in their blood and I will never get enough of themes like this. And this was only the beginning… “Tema di Boris”, with the Russian string motifs, with the unmistakable sound of the balalaika is even better.
I was surprised to be more drawn to the many emotional themes in this score. I came here for adventure and stayed for the heart balm. A piece like “Canto tzigano” echoes back to every legend or sea adventure novel I ever read somehow this sound was in my head before I even heard it.  The constant presence of the flute in this score makes me think of the open air and of a beauty that never fades.
More tender than frantic and more emotional than adventurous “Michele Strogoff” is another wonderful gift from Kronos Records. It’s alove story, and a treasure I wouldn’t have discovered this composer and his wonderful musings without them. This is a score to dream on, a score to remember on, a score to enjoy even if you have no idea who Jules Verne is or what is film music.

Cue rating: 94 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 36 / 47
Album excellence: 77%
1. Michele Strogoff – Titoli Di Testa
2. Assalto Tartaro
3. Tema Di Nadia
5. Tema Di Boris
6. Canto Tzigano
8. Nel Cuore Di Michele
11. Accecamento Di Strogoff
12. Coraggio Di Nadia
13. Cattura Di Strogoff
14. Morte Della Moglie Di Strogoff
15. Sul Treno
16. Tu Ami Il Corriere Dello Zar
18. Trionfo Di Michele – Titoli Di Coda

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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