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W.E. by Abel Korzeniowski


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W.E. (Soundtrack) by Abel Korzeniowski
W.E. (Soundtrack) by Abel Korzeniowski










W.E. (Soundtrack) by Abel Korzeniowski

Composed by Abel Korzeniowski
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 10/10

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“It is the universal embodiment of the raw, emotional power of romantic love. I daresay it is the most romantic score I’ve ever heard.”

Chocolate for the Ears
Review by Helen San



W.E. is a romantic drama about the complicated love story of King Edward VIII and the American woman he abdicated his throne for, Wallis Simpson. The second directorial effort by Madonna, W.E. was her baby. She researched it for years, co-wrote it, cast it, and pored over costuming decisions. Attracted to the melancholy of A SINGLE MAN, she handpicked composer ABEL KORZENIOWSKI (Ah-bell Kohr-shen-yow-ski) for this project.

Told in flashbacks, the film moves back and forth between contemporary and period settings. KORZENIOWSKI wrote a classic, timeless piece that could fit easily in whichever time period it found itself. Madonna was very specific about wanting this score to be more emotional than cerebral; it should be simple enough to connect with audiences easily. She gave explicit instructions to KORZENIOWSKI, a classically trained composer, to not “overthink” it. I think this may have been one of her best decisions on this film. Madonna may not be the greatest actress or film maker. But the woman knows her music and how to sell it.

I’ll cut to the chase. The score moved the heavens out of me. It doesn’t have the sheer, mind-blowing brilliance I heard in BATTLE FOR TERRA or the pure, astounding beauty of A SINGLE MAN. But W.E. reaches right in, grabs my gut, and transports me to every single love story I’ve ever seen, heard, or felt. It is the universal embodiment of the raw, emotional power of romantic love. I daresay it is the most romantic score I’ve ever heard. Yes, ever. Eat your heart out, FRANCIS LAI. You’ve been dethroned, MAURICE JARRE.

When I first listened to the score, I admit I was slightly disappointed. I had expected A SINGLE MAN all over again, I guess. There were several nice, strong tracks, but there was more subdued, modest piano and guitar than I wanted. Then I turned up my Bose speakers and listened to it again.

W.E. is heavy on the strings. But KORZENIOWSKI chose to emphasize violas instead of violins, which gave the score a deeper, rumbling undercurrent. When the volume is turned up, you can physically feel the bass. The strings now penetrate and reverberate past any complaints I may have had. They swept me away. The music becomes a totally different listening experience.

You can taste the bittersweetness of this romance. The passionate longing is so palpable, it is almost a chemical reaction. If you have this album, you won’t need chocolate ever again. Think of all the weight you won’t have to gain when you next get a craving for theobromine. With a good set of speakers or headphones, this music is just that good.

The album is hard to review track by track. It is very much a masterpiece that needs to be listened to as a whole. There are waves of emotion stronger than others, but the ebbs only make the flows that much more powerful. The opening and closing tracks, “Charms” (1) and “Dance for Me Wallis” (11), are forces of nature. “I Will Follow You” (4), “Abdication” (5), and “Brooklyn Faces” (7) unleash dynamic, galvanizing energy to contrast with the gentler “Evgeni’s Waltz” (8) and “Satin Birds” (9). The colors dance across the darkness. The hope moves hand in hand with despair. It all works together as one piece, one amazing piece.

In fact, “masterpiece” is a recurrent concept in this story. The original song Madonna co-wrote and performed for the film, appropriately called “Masterpiece,” (12) describes the admiration for the beloved as an artistic masterpiece. Harking back to a more 90’s Madonna style, the ballad wraps up the album quite nicely. (It won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes, but was not eligible for the Academy Awards because the song started too late during the closing credits.) It feels as if the sense of masterpiece infused the score itself.

I like cerebral scores and hummable scores. But my favorite ones have always been those that moved me--that made me cry, or laugh, or feel the story. I believe the genius of W.E. is its unabashed beeline for the primal emotions, and its successful evocation of everything there is to savor about romance. This has made W.E. one of my favorite scores of all time, and cemented KORZENIOWSKI as one of my favorite composers as well.


Rating: 10/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Charms 4:03  *****
2 Duchess of Windsor 3:09  *****
3 Revolving Door 4:19  ****
4 I Will Follow You 2:32  *****
5 Abdication 5:22  *****
6 Six Hours 3:30  *****
7 Brooklyn Faces 4:53  *****
8 Evgeni's Faces 4:53  ****
9 Satin Birds 4:29  ****
10 Letters 4:19  *****
11 Dance For Me Wallis 3:08  *****
12 Masterpiece - by Madonna 3:58  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  


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