Bride Of The Wind
Deutsche Grammophon Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/06/2001
Admission number one: I often don't see the films whose soundtracks I review here. This is no surprise announcement, since I've admitted so in print before. In fact, often I review the soundtracks before the film ever hits the theatres. (Last time I checked, the studios don't invite music journalists - especially those who live between the Chicago and Milwaukee markets - to advance screenings.)
Admission number two: As much as I like classical music, I never developed a passion for Gustav Mahler. I always had an affinity for Beethoven or Baroque-period music like Bach's, and didn't spend much time learning about turn-of-the-century composers like Mahler.
These factors would make it seem like I should be the last person to review the soundtrack to Bride Of The Wind, a tale of love between Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma - a woman whose only source of peace is in her own classical music compositions. And, in a way, I do feel lost trying to quickly develop a feel for Gustav Mahler while knowing little to nothing about his music.
If you are an afficionado of Gustav Mahler's work, then you will undoubtedly find Bride Of The Wind to be an appealing collection. The performances by soprano Renée Fleming are of special note; Fleming raises the bar of excellence wherever she lends her golden vocals. However, the works of Alma Mahler cannot be discounted either, even though only three of the precious few which survive are featured.
However, Bride Of The Wind is one of those few soundtracks which almost requires you to have seen the movie - or at least to have knowledge of Alma Mahler's life. This way, one can understand the rises and ebbs in the intensity of the music, both from Alma Mahler's pen and written for the soundtrack by Stephen Endelman. One could understand why the music turns more introspective due to Gustav Mahler's directive to his wife to give up her craft - and how the encouragement and passion she felt outside of her marriage would be reflected in a rise in energy.
As it stands, Bride Of The Wind is an enjoyable, if passable, collection of music that should satisfy those who love classical music. But without seeing the film, somehow this disc is less satisfying. (Side note: I can't honestly say I'm interested in seeing the film - no offense meant towards the filmmakers, but this particular genre of film just does not appeal to me.)