The Soong Sisters and Other Music by Kitaro at Amazon.com

 

 

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The Soong Sisters (Soundtrack) by Kitaro

Kitaro's Return to Film Music
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

The Soong Sisters (Soundtrack) by Kitaro

The Soong Sisters
8/10

The Soong Sisters (Soundtrack) by Kitaro

Best of Kitaro Volume 2

Best of Kitaro Vol. 2

Best of Kitaro Volume 2

 

 

Category

Score

Originality 7
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 8
Track Order 7
Performance 7
Final Score 8/10

 

Real Audio Clips

 

Track 13 - Echoing Wall

 


Composer 
Kitaro

 

Quick Quotes

"As I did with Ride with the Devil last year, I am making THE SOONG SISTERS my 'undiscovered gem' for the year 2000, and intend to praise it far and wide int he film music community..."  ****

Jonathan Broxton - Review in Soundtrack Magazine (Vol. 19)

 

 

Composed by Kitaro and Randy Miller
Orchestrated and Conducted by Randy Miller
Performed by The Northwest Sinfonia, Warren Chang, Liu Qi-Chao (Er-Hu), Buyun Zhao (Yang-Chin), Ziying Wu (Pi-Pa)
Additional Orchestrations by Peter Tomashek, Andrew Kinney
Produced by Kitaro and Gary Barlough
Executive Producer: Eiichi Naito 
Released by Domo Records 1997, 1999

In 1993, Kitaro's score to Heaven and Earth caught the film and film music world by storm.  Deservingly, it garnered Kitaro as his first full film score effort. Heaven and Earth, simply put, features some of the most powerful and majestic music to grace any film of the 1990's.  My own ears, just as with many others, were made aware of this stellar score, as it was featured in the trailers for Anna and the King in 1999.  Unfortunately, for the film music community, Kitaro did not produce another score for a feature film for years to come and Heaven and Earth has become somewhat of a hard-find.    While Kitaro continues to produce the majority of his work in the New Age or World Beat genres, he finally got the call to score a feature film.  He makes his return to film music with the score to The Soong Sisters.

The Soong Sisters is a controversial film based on the historical, political events of the early to mid 20th Century China.  This telling highlights the lives of three sisters who grow up in the turbulence of China's struggles between imperialism, nationalism and communism.  The story emphasizes their ever-changing relationship to one another as a direct result of their tumultuous surroundings.   What makes the story so interesting is how the sisters find themselves intimately involved with some of China's most notable leaders of the 20th century:   Sun Yat-Sen founder of the Nationalist Party and Chaing Kai-shek, commander in chief and the National Revolutionary Army.  Family ties, religion, love, and patriotism make for a great deal of musical potential and Kitaro is a perfect choice to take advantage of it.

Kitaro's score for the epic film, naturally reflects its Far East setting.  Kitaro employs some of China's oldest and most recognizable musical instruments including: the Er-Hu (the twoinged violin-like instrument), the Pi Pa (the plucked, four string, Spanish-guitar of the Far East), and the Yang Chin (a dulcimer played with bamboo mallets which gives off a metallic tone like the harpsichord.)  His use of these instruments go far beyond making the film feel authentic, and as these instruments so often do, provide the highest amount of emotion in the score.

Combined with these traditional instruments of the East are two more components which Kitaro used so effectively for Heaven and Earth.  First he adds the rich sound of a full orchestra. Under the careful conducting of co-composer, Randy Miller, yet another impressive performance from the Northwest Sinfonia is delivered here for The Soong Sisters.   Second, Kitaro augments his score with synthesizers from his New Age repertoire.  Aside from their obvious use in providing some of the darker and more spacious portions of the score, these synthesized elements can be most easily heard in the percussions and supplemental vocals.  Both of these additional components work well within his traditional framework.

The Soong Sisters revolves around three themes.  Two of the themes are introduced right away by solo piano in track 1, Soong Sisters.  First the tender, family theme, is played but soon flows into the actual main theme.  Both themes go on to take many forms throughout the soundtrack, played by various solo instruments as well as by the entire orchestra.  The overall effect of the main theme is very reminiscent of Poledouris' title theme for Les Miserables.   Both Poledouris' and Kitaro's main themes reflect the turbulence of their respective stories, the themes of love, hope, and loyalty each encased in the dark tragedy of war and loss.  The third theme is a compelling love-theme.  It appears first in track 3, Dr. Sun and Ching-Ling and is powerfully reprised in Ching-Ling Escapes (11).  

Kitaro has been thrilling music fans since the 1970's and continues to do so with his New Age compositions and film music projects.  The Soong Sisters does not match the intense beauty of Heaven and Earth, but does come close.  It is also another fine example of Kitaro's under-utilized film scoring talents.  With many contemporary film music composers searching to carve out their unique corner, Kitaro has already done so with his unique sound comprised from the ancient, contemporary, east and west.  Hopefully, this will translate into more film projects for Kitaro in the years to come.

[The score-only soundtrack is available only as an import from Domo Records, but is also generously included as the second CD of the double-disc, Kitaro's Greatest Hits Vol. 2, also from Domo.  Both of which can be ordered online (see sidebar).]


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

1 Soong Sisters 4:44  ***
2 Nowhere to Land 2:51  ****
3 Dr. Sun & Ching-Ling 2:36  ****
4 Man On Fire 3:40  ***
5 Ching-Ling Assassination Attempt/ Soldiers Revolt 4:03  ***
6 Ching-Ling Goes to Russia 3:53  ****
7 Waltz & War 3:48  ***
8 The Bonfire 1:48  ***
9 Xi-an Airport 1:21  ***
10 The Scroll is Read 4:04  ***
11 Ching-Ling Escapes 2:55  ****
12 Parachutes 2:21  ****
13 Echoing Wall 4:38  ****
 

Total Running Time

42:42  


 


Referenced Reviews
Heaven and Earth | Anna and the King 

 

 

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