Halfdan E.

" The dramatic narrative of the score is rather strong and the composer provides an evocative and at times joyful' mood. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

Danish composer Halfdan E. is known for scores for films like En Ganske Snill Mann and succesful series like Borgen and Badehotellet (co-composed by Jeppe Kaas). Bænken (The Bench) is the first film of the trilogy about the lower, middle and upper class in Denmark, directed by Per Fly. The film tells the story of an alcoholic living on the money the Danish state is providing him, until one day a woman and child move in next door, drastically changing his life

For this first score of the trilogy the composer uses a small number of solo instruments and combines them with idiosyncratic electronic effects on the background. Because of his employment of solo string and woodwind instruments this does not provide a 'full sound' and may sound a slightly hollow at times. The electronic elements rather deviate in terms of quality and occasionally would be of better use somewhat more restrained or buried under a fuller orchestral sound. I have found that it can take some time to get accustomed to the sound that characterizes Halfdan E, both in the case of individual scores and his career in general, but can often be very rewarding.

The dramatic narrative of the score of Bænken is rather strong and the composer provides an evocative and at times joyful mood. Perhaps the best thing about the score is how good it underpins the high and low moments of the main character in the film. During the 'drinking episodes' of the protagnist you can hear raw electric guitars and atmospheric, disturbing sounds. But it is most evident in the playful performances of instruments such as the saxophone, woodwinds and strings in some of the (rhythmic) cues against the dramatic agony in other cues. The new digital release of Baenken includes some fine variations on the previously available music.

The second in the series, Arven, was recorded with the Danish Radio Orchestra and combines their role with similar electronic effects as on Baenken. It contains moments that remind you of the sort of constant rhythmic flow that characterized the splendid Borgen series. The concluding chapter Drabet is the best of all three and is characterized by deeply evocative and melancholic compositions for an orchestra and string quartet.

The 2017 digital release of Bænken by PlantSounds includes a few cues that were not available on the 2005 Milan records cd. These additional pieces of music offer variations of what you heard before, but nonetheless are more than welcome to give a broader perspective of the score. This alone is a good reason to purchase the new release. Drabet has received a similar treatment by Powerplant, but underwent some more changes.

1. The Bench 2:22
2. At Home Alone 0:58
3. The Letters 1:09
4. Remembrance 1:32
5. Preparing Dinner 2:03
6. Football 1:59
7. Happy Shopping 2:15
8. The Letters Again 0:57
9. Loneliness 0:51
10. The Escape 1:02
11. Train Station 0:56
12. Drinking 2:37
13. The Incident 0:53
14. Cleaning Up 2:03
15. Trains 1:57
16. My Tomorrow 3:35

Total duration: 27:09

(Written on 11-09-2017)

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Released by

PlantSounds (download only release 2017)