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Conrad Pope - Center Stage
Review by Christopher Coleman

 


Varese Sarabande


Promo

 

 

Category

Score

Originality 9
Music Selection 9
Composition 10
CD Length 8
Track Order 9
Performance 9
Final Score 9/10

 

 

Real Audio Clips

 

Track 7 - Madame Wu's Decision

 

 

 

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Composer 
Conrad Pope

 

Quick Quotes

The "far east" is hot these days thanks to CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON but fear not. If Tan Dun's Oscar winning score for that film didn't float your boat, PAVILION OF WOMEN is a different animal. It's "East meets West" musical sensibilities - an intricate weave of orchestra and ethnic instrumentation (ehru, zheng, and stone flute) - mean it should appeal to those hungry for high drama and to those who also appreciate a delicate touch.

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic Reviews Pavilion of Women

Composed and Conducted Conrad Pope
Produced by Conrad Pope
Performed by Denise Williams, Shawna Gottfredson (Soprano solos), Scott Miller (Tenor Solos), La East Chorus and Salt Lake International Children
Promo Release 2001

The name, "Conrad Pope" is not likely to be one that many would line up with the likes of John Williams, James Horner, or Alan Silvestri.   The fact is that his name belongs right there and has already appeared alongside these and other "A-List" composers in some of their most popular works.  His orchestration credits include:  Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace, Jurassic Park:  The Lost World, Patriot Games and The Mexican.  With just one listen to Conrad Pope's debut composition, Pavilion of Women, one will come to discover that he does indeed belong in such high-quality company. 

Conrad Pope has been involved with 120-plus feature films as composer, arranger, or conductor.   His other feature credits include the recently released, Amati Girls, The Rising Place (for which he received a Moxie! Award for Best Film Composer at the Santa Monica International Film Festival - 2001), and Ghost Ship.  Each of these scores demonstrate Pope's creative, musical abilities and helps one to quickly understand why the likes of John Williams and James Horner have chosen him as an orchestrator. 

His best score yet is Pavilion of Women and just happens to be his first feature film music release.  Pavilion of Women is a classic story about a Chinese woman that seeks to free herself from the "oppression" of an ancient culture and in the process becomes romantically tied to her "Western liberator."  The spiritual awakening and romance of the film are starkly contrasted against the invading Japanese forces of China.  The story was originally penned by Nobel Prize winning author, Pearl S. Buck in 1946.  Since 1994, when the Chinese government allowed the book to be published in China,, Luo Yan, the eventual producer and star, began making plans to adapt the story for the big screen.  Finally, after much labor, the story has been brought to the big screen.  Conrad Pope was brought in with only three weeks to write a score worthy of the enchanting story and reflective of the story's East/West dynamics.

For Pavilion of Women, Pope, quite expectantly, utilizes several Chinese instruments.  Interestingly, while Pope only had three weeks to complete his score, he had never worked with Chinese instruments before!  With only a few hours of training in these ancient instruments, Conrad Pope was able to craft an evocative and convincing score. Fans of Kitaros' Heaven and Earth or George Fenton's Anna and the King will recognize the Chinese violin's (huqin or erhu) distinctive sound.  In addition, Pope includes the Zheng, Di, and stone flutes which flawlessly mesh with the orchestra.  It this East/West harmony that has made scores like Anna and the King, and now, Pavilion of Women so enjoyable.  The soundtrack begins with attention being placed on both the classic Oriental instruments and musical style.  Track 1, Pavilion of Women, is somewhat of a microcosm of the score.  It begins strongly Eastern but as it progresses, the Western elements enter, support, and finally, with equal passion, bring the piece to its climax.

Those who are keen fans of John Williams and James Horner will pick up moments that are strongly reflect Pope's years of orchestrating the scores of these giants of film music.  Without coming close to film music "plagarism,"  Pope, an accomplished concert composer in his own right, has picked up on those almost intangible ingredients that help to make Williams' and Horners' scores so popular.  He incorporates them seamlessly into Pavilion of Women and brands this score with his own flair and personality.

Both film and film score are operatic in nature.  Set against the looming attacks of the Japanese and the oppressions of ancient Chinese traditions regarding women, the story of one woman's search of liberation brings her across a Western missionary, Father Andre.  Their subsequent relationship is the center of the story and where East/West mixture finds its origin.  To help capture the power and intrigue of the story and the actors' performances, Pope provides a lush and weighty score complete with powerful operatic vocals such as in The Invasion (16), Andre's Sacrifice (17), and Aftermath (18.).

Any of today's "big name" composers would be proud to call this work their own.  As Pope's first major composing project, this film should mark a distinct turning point in his career.   The score has already been warmly received in China and should do likewise in the West.  For those who are fans of these East/West hybrid scores, Pavilion of Women will surely become a favorite and I would consider this a must have.  In addition, the premiere of the film will find Conrad Pope conducting the Beijing Symphony and marking beginning of a musical tour through China.  Varese Sarabande will release the official soundtrack on May 1, 2001 and it will additionally contain a piece from the opera, Madam Butterfly, used in the film.

 


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

1 Pavilion of Women 2:40  *****
2 The Necklace 1:49  *****
3 The Library 2:10  ****
4 Eternal Question 0:48  ****
5 The Rape 3:12  ***
6 Faith 2:46  ****
7 Madame Wu's Decision   2:41  *****
8 The Birthday Party 1:14  ****
9 Eclipse 1:49  ****
10 The Fire 2:05  ****
11 All Love Stories 1:46  ****
12 Secrets and Wages of Sin 3:04  *****
13 Ailien and Andre Part 2:29  *****
14 Chiu Ming's Farewell 1:30  *****
15 The Embrace 3:34  ****
16 Invasion 3:52  *****
17 Andre's Sacrifice 1:58  ****
18 Aftermath 1:21  *****
19 Ghost House 1:15  ****
20 Together Forever 2:51  *****
21 End Credits 3:42  *****
 

Total Running Time

48:52  

 

 

 

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
Anna and the King | Heaven and Earth 


All artwork from Pavilion of Women is exclusive property of (c) 2001. 
 Its appearance is for informational purposes only. Review format version 5