UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN 
Music composed by Christophe Beck, conducted by Mike Nowak

Label: Hollywood
Catalog: 6492
Year: 2003
Tracks:

1. Follow the Flower
2. I Broke My Heart in San Francisco
3. Wish You Were Here
4. Bramasole
5. Un Segno di Dio
6. Buyer's Remorse
7. Three Stooges
8. A Team of Experts
9. Ice Cream
10. Believers
11. Kurwa Mac
12. The Old Man with the Flowers
13. Olive Harvest
14. Ode to San Lorenzo
15. Roma
16. Marcello, Of Course
17. Blue Umbrellas
18. What American Women Say
19. Patti Arrives
20. Mud Slide
21. Springtime
22. Baby Alessandra
23. Polonia
24. White Dress
25. Katherine's Fountain
26. The Most Important Thing
27. Gaudeamus
28. My Wish
29. The Spigot
30. End Titles
Total Time: 48:27
Rating: ***½

Reviewed by
Jorge Saldanha


It may sound unfair, but casual moviegoers will remember the name of Christophe Beck only if they are fans of the television hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Montreal-based composer originally scored for television, and specifically in Buffy, he composed the best scores for the show, for the second and third seasons (and even won an Emmy award for this work). But Christophe Beck has also scored numerous films in virtually every genre, spanning from the teen comedy Bring It On to the noir film Confidence. Beck's credits in 2003 include Just Married, American Wedding and Dickie Roberts.

Under The Tuscan Sun is based on Frances Mayes' novel and was adapted to the big screen by director and screenwriter Audrey Wells. On the film Diane Lane plays the novelist, Mayes, who has recently divorced and is suffering from writer's block and depression. She decides to move on and buys a villa in the Tuscan countryside, maybe a way to bring back her writing inspiration. The film, clearly women-oriented, is an attempt to recycle those old romantic comedies where Americans found love and a better life on exotic Mediterranean locations. Audrey Wells said that Beck's score "infused the film with yearning, humor, pathos and beauty." Christophe Beck previously worked with Wells on her feature "Guinevere." Beck is a versatile composer and achieved a kind of "female sensibility" for this score, which sounds definitively romantic.

As said in the album liner notes, Beck composed a score using three musical voices, which he braided together. One voice is contemporary, for Lane's character, Frances; another pays homage to Fellini's composer, the unforgettable Nino Rota; and the third is a comic/romantic interpretation of Italian life. My favorite track is the first one, "Follow the Flower", the main motif that is reprised in the "End Titles" in a lightly different arrangement. It is pure Beck and the best example from the primary, modern character’s contemporary style. We can find sensibilities of Nino Rota's typical music for the genre in tracks like "I Broke my Heart in San Francisco", "Ice Cream", "Katherine’s Fountain" (with a nice use of the violin). And there is music suitable for both comic and romantic elements of the light-hearted, Italian lifestyle - "Bramasole", "Three Stooges" "Buyer’s Remorse". Despite these three styles the score is consistent and solid, due to the composer’s skills.

Besides the partial orchestra (with lots of strings, but with only four brass players), the composer employs an ensemble with guitar, piano, violin, accordion, clarinet, oboe and boy soprano voice. There are sensible melodies like the beautiful "Blue Umbrellas" and "Gaudeamus"/"My Wish", the latter featuring the boy’s voice which, along the violin, obtains a touching effect. The score outcome is not thematic, as one could expect. Sadly enough, it is another example of the non-thematic trend that dominates the contemporary film music. Besides the homage to Rota and enough music to establish the Italian setting, there is not a great theme to take us to Tuscany. I would rather hear here music with a greater sense of scope, but anyway Under The Tuscan Sun provides a nice listening experience that you can truly enjoy. Either if you are Buffy’s fan or not.

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