The Childhood of a Leader [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

The Childhood of a Leader [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

by Scott Walker


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Heard in the context of director Brady Corbet's provocative, feature-length debut film, Scott Walker's original score for The Childhood of a Leader is so successful, it's inseparable from the images but adds brutality. (It was deliberately mixed five-percent above the Dolby standard to be intrusive.) The film's narrative is loosely based on a Jean-Paul Sartre short story of the same title published in 1939. Corbet's depiction is of a nine-year-old boy in 1918, forced to live in France while his dad helps negotiate the Treaty of Versailles for President Woodrow Wilson. Set in acts -- known as "tantrums" -- these are the formative years of a fascist dictator. Walker's musical engagement with the topic of fascism dates back to 1978's "The Electrician," from the Walker Brothers 1978 reunion album Nite Flights; it expressionistically detailed the nature of power exchanged in sadomasochistic relationships. This is Walker's first exercise in the medium since scoring Leo Carax's Pola X in 1999. For music fans who haven't seen the film, the question as to whether or not the soundtrack holds as a standalone document is pertinent. Co-produced by Walker and Peter Walsh, the half-hour-long score was performed by a 62-piece orchestra of strings, winds, reeds, brass, and percussion, and conducted by longtime collaborator Mark Warman. After a brief, humorous "Orchestral Tuning Up," the listener is jarred to attention by rumbling cellos and violas in a repetitive, almost vampish pattern. Violins enter, adding another harmonic layer hovering on the edges of dissonance in minor-key drama. Brass and sawed middle-register violins expand the palette until everything swirls and bleeds in a Bernard Hermann-esque chase scene score. Walker's serial cues are equally satisfying. Listen to the trilled exchanges of violins and piccolos in "Down the Stairs" and the striated Ligeti-esque dissonances in "Up the Stairs." In the latter, strings increase the tension until it crescendos in an unsettling finale. In "Boy, Mirror, Car Arriving," cellos seethe and smolder, threatening to erupt and/or collapse at any moment. The droning brass introducing "Third Tantrum" recalls Komeda, but is offset by strings in shifting time signatures and keys. "On the Way to the Meeting" is introduced by cellos playing a frenetic circular pattern answered by military snares and middle- and high-register violins before being resolved by horns and tubas in long, single foreboding notes. "The Meeting" offers a restricted, brooding dynamic with a deceptively large timbral palette that would have been at home on any Walker solo album. The "Finale," with its bleating, fat, low brass (à la Scelsi) prepares the ground for an all-out aural assault of drums and percussion, noise, dissonant siren-like horns, and squalling strings, all of which erase notions of anything but war. The mood is lightened, for only a moment, in the concluding "New Dawn," but the composer can't resist: the dramatic movement overcomes perceived tranquility in the final notes, making this a dark, turbulent, and welcome entry in Walker's catalog.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/19/2016
Label: 4ad / Ada
UPC: 0652637362022
catalogNumber: 73620

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Scott Walker   Primary Artist
John Barclay   Trumpet
Chris Pitsillides   Viola
Simon Rayner   French Horn
Julian Tear   Violin
Paul Willey   Violin
Frank Schaefer   Cello
Jim Sleigh   Viola
David Ogden   Violin
Steve Bentley-Klein   Violin
Julian Trafford   Violin
Polly Wiltshire   Viola
Adrian Hallowell   Bass Trombone
Jacqueline Phillips   Cello
Jonathan Tunnell   Cello
Deborah Widdup   Violin
Tamsy Kaner   Cello
Roger Argente   Bass Trombone
Andy Wood   Bass Trombone
Richard George   Violin
Stacey Watton   Double Bass
Abigail Young   Violin
Matthew Gunner   French Horn
Clive Dobbins   Violin
Reiad Chibah   Viola
Laura Melhuish   Violin
John Higginbotham   Bass Trombone
Mike Lovatt   Trumpet
Ruth Ehrlich   Violin
Matthew Elston   Violin
Andrew Gathercole   Trumpet
Steve Rossell   Double Bass
Phil Taylor   Cello
Joely Koos   Cello
Rachel Robson   Viola
Pat White   Trumpet
Richard Bayliss   French Horn
Alice Kent   Double Bass
Tom Pigott-Smith   Violin
David Smith   Violin
Sarah Chapman   Viola
Nicholas Korth   French Horn
Tim Warburton   Violin
Nerys Richards   Cello
Elizabeth Wexler   Violin
Nina Foster   Violin
Brian Wright   Violin
Charlie Brown   Violin
Vicky Matthews   Cello
Stephen Warner   Double Bass
Nikki Gleed   Violin
Michael Keelan   Violin
Ed Tarrant   Bass Trombone
Marianne Haynes   Violin
Suzanne Evans   Viola
Corinne Bailey   French Horn
Tina Jacobs Lim   Violin
Dom Pecheur   Cello
Ian Anderson   Viola
Jamie Pringle   Cello
Steve Morris   Violin
Dave Stewart   Bass Trombone
Enno Seft   Double Bass
Emil Chackalov   Violin
Jeff Moore   Violin
Owain Harries   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Scott Walker   Composer,Score Producer
Steve Price   Engineer
Peter Walsh   Producer,Engineer
Chris Coen   Producer
Brady Corbet   Director

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