* * Tibetan Art * *

One might say that Tibetan art is as brightlyhued as the fivecolored flags that represent blue sky, white clouds, red fire, green grass and yellow earth. Visitors to Tibet are invariably impressed by the local peopIe's power of imagination and boldness of expression in their artistic forms. Religious doctrines have not stifled their creativity. Rather, they have given wings to their imagination. Talent, gifted by Heaven and Earth, shines forth in all their works of art, from architecture to clothing and decorations, from furniture to articles of daily ase.

there is an artistic charm that moves you wherever you go on the Tibetan Plateau. The source of this charm is the region's religious and secular art, art that springs from everyday life and from the environment, art that is not made for money's sake and, therefore, cannot be evaluated in terms of money. Only when you really know the lifestyle or the Tibetan People can you appreciate why they greet every festival with such ceremony and take every ritual so. seriously, why each piece or furniture is exquisitely carved and every horse beautifully adorned.

Truly, the peaceful labor of the Tibetan people, and the enthusiasm with which they enjoy life, are themselves art or a unique nature.

 

              

Seven Years in Tibet: (John Williams) After the superb use of Randy Edelman's Dragonheart music in this film's primary trailers, it was hard to imagine how any other music could fit better with the images in Seven Years in Tibet. From the very outset of this score, however, John Williams' majestic touch of theme and suspense make that trailer discussion a long, lost memory.

There's no doubt this score will give John Williams another free pass to the Academy Award ceremonies, and of the contenders (or lack of) so far this year, it certainly would win the award. Williams re-visits --sometimes almost too closely-- the power of dramatic orchestra last heard in Schindler's List, replacing Perlman's violin with Ma's cello. But Seven Years in Tibet is not as over-poweringly consistent as Schindler's List. This score contains plentiful moments of very quiet solos and dead silence. Its emotional level, although more than adequate in the film, lacks behind that of Schindler's List.

But to compare any score --Williams or otherwise-- to a classic such as Schindler's List is somewhat unfair, so I'll take this time to analyze the score on its own. The opening track begins with a theme that will send chills up your spine. It is very heavy on the strings. The entire score features strings over any other orchestral section, yet they are powerful, resilient strings rather than lush, weeping ones. The cello solos are impressive, however don't play as large of a role into the score as whole even though Ma performs during almost every track. His solo performances represent more spiritual, soft moments of the score, with little accompaniment by the orchestra as a whole. This is unfortunate because some of my favorite moments in the score come when the cello solos are joined and the succeeded by the orchestra. 

The orchestra, as you might expect, is absolutely huge. The CD case boasts about the 24-bit technology used "to maximize sound quality" and it definitely delivers. The main, sweeping theme, as heard in tracks 1, 3, and 14 sound brilliant in surround sound at home or in the theater. The other moments in the score are much more ethnic than the opening tracks would lead you to believe. Two tracks contain religious chanting, and others contain flutes and drums consistent with the area. The turbulent moments in the middle to latter half of the score are along the same lines as those in Nixon, however here they are more enjoyable because of thematic loyalty. In these regards, they are much like the turmoil felt in Presumed Innocent. During these moments in Seven Years in Tibet, John Williams really cooks. Track 13 is an elegant break to the suspense. The final track is a reprise, which is becoming a routine in recent Williams scores. The performance is different, though --a nice surprise.

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Overall, this score barely misses the five-star mark simply because it is one tiny step behind Schindler's List. I know this is unfair in some ways, but I know that most of us do make such comparisons when we listen to our CDs. The theme may excel beyond other Williams themes of the last decade, but the quiet music in the middle doesn't evoke the same emotional response that Schindler's List did throughout the whole score. Otherwise, this is surely a good buy. I was a bit disappointed by this year's Rosewood and The Lost World after a few months of repeat listenings. I have a distinct feeling, though, that this score will be far more enjoyable in the long run --both before and after it wins all its inevitable awards... ****

Composed, Conducted, Orchestrated, and Produced by:

John Williams