Friday, September 19, 2014

Calvary by Patrick Cassidy (2014)

Review by Travis Elder


Purchase on Amazon CD | MP3 | iTunes
Best Cues of 2014 Nominees:
Na mBeannaiochtai (The Beatitudes I) - Amazon | iTunes
Teresa - Amazon | iTunes
Third Act Revelation - Amazon | iTunes
Say Your Prayers - Amazon | iTunes

Calvary opens darkly with a parishioner in a confessional telling a priest, Father James, about sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest as a child.  He explains his plan to kill Father James the following Sunday as punishment against the Catholic church.  The film follows Father James through the next week as he faces difficulties shepherding his congregation and culminates in a confrontation with the man who threatened to kill him.  If this opening seems disturbing do not be deterred because you will miss out on one of the most touching scores of 2014.

Amidst these troubling scenes is Irish composer, Patrick Cassidy's spiritually moving score.  The album opens with a stunning, slightly mournful song, Na mBeannaiochtai, performed by Irish singer, Iarla Ó Lionáird.  Lionáird's heart penetrating vocals touch with their sincerity and penetrate like a reassuring friend into the soul.  Every time I listen to this song I find myself hitting the repeat button at least a couple times before continuing.

Calvary Theme continues the gorgeous momentum of the opening song with its ponderous, beautiful strings and its subtle shades of sorrow.  My favorite performance of the theme appears in the moving, Teresa, where the relaxing Canon-in-D-like strings are joined by a gentle female chorus. Another interesting variation comes at 2:09 into A Lone Figure with a subdued, anthem-like treatment the cries out for more development and extended length.

Aya Peard provides brief, but beautiful, ethereal vocals, vocalizing the Calvary Theme in Memories Fade and the Beatitudes Theme in Fiona Awakens and especially in Ben Bulben starting at 2:20 alongside tolling bells.  Peard's singing in Third Act Revelation is especially divine particularly the passage starting at 1:48 and when the heart wrenching solo violin joins in at 2:11.  Simply sublime.

The album closes out with a pristine variation of the song's theme in Say Your Prayers where the piano, starting at 1:38, performs the theme ever so genuinely, carrying peace to the heart.  Cassidy's careful attention to details like these is what makes this score such a joy to listen to.

To be honest, when I read the plot summary for the movie I expected a much different score and could have dismissed it without a listen.  What I got was a jewel that has seen many repeat plays and will continue to enchant my ears long into the future.  Unreservedly recommended.

1. Na mBeannaiochtai (The Beatitudes I)† (4:11) *
2. Calvary Theme (2:58)
3. Ben Bulben† (3:54)
4. The Beach (1:33)
5. Don’t Change The Subject+ (:37)
6. Memories Fade+ (1:08)
7. Fiona Awakens† (1:05)
8. Teresa+ (3:09) *
9. Confession+ (2:18)
10. Freddy Joyce (:58)
11. Why Am I Here (1:40)
12. Your Church Is On Fire (1:21)
13. Veronica (1:44)
14. Third Act Revelation+ (3:20) *
15. Bruno (:59)
16. Country Lane (:45)
17. Dream (:37)
18. But I Will Go On+ (2:41)
19. Forgiveness† (1:03)
20. A Lone Figure+ (2:57)
21. Say Your Prayers† (4:02) *
22. Na mBeannaiochtai (The Beatitudes II)† (4:16)

Total Running Time: 47:23
*ScoreCues 2014 Best Cues Nominee
†Beatitudes Theme
+Calvary Theme

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