La Reina de España

Zbigniew Preisner

" The score would not seem terribly interesting if not for fact that Preisner's own idiosyncratic color and style blend with the more cliché music that was required for this film, resulting in a very refreshing type of score. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain) is the sequel to the 1998 film La Niña de Tus Ojos (The Girl of Your Dreams). The first film was a fine tragic-comedy about the making of a Spanish/German film in the roaring 1938. The sequel follows the same lead character played by Penelope Cruz who, after having made a career in Hollywood, returns to Spain to star in the role of Queen Isabelle.

The first film had a score by Antoine Duhamel, who also collaborated with the director on wonderful scores such a Bell Epoque, but Duhamel died in 2014. The choice of Zbigniew Preisner came as a huge surprise to me and I think everyone else who is familiar with his career, but I was very confident it would become something very interesting. Some of his previous films included portions of dark humor (Trois Couleurs White and Effroyables Jardins), but these were never approached from a comical music point of view. Sportsman van de Eeuw is possibly the only score that slightly underscores a small portion of humor, but is in no comparison to La Reina de España. In recent times, Shigeru Umbeyashi worked on a Spanish film called La Novia. It was his most deviating and understated score to date, though featuring one passionate Spanish flavored piece. Preisner 's score is even more deviating and, admittingly, the Spanish influences are so much more evident than the small 6 minutes that Umebyashi displays in his score.

The score to La Reina de España does vary a lot of in terms of mood and style, and the different musical ideas are presented from the very first cue onwards. The first part of the score is mostly scored like a vintage evocative Preisner score and is smaller and dramatic in scope. Mind you, I will not specifically describe the familiar voice of Preisner, but those who have heard some of his music will recognize it easily. One of the most striking themes is the particularly touching one for the piano, played by Dominik Wania. The composer used to have Leszek Możdżer to play such cues on the piano, but for about ten years he hasn't been using him anymore, instead opting for both Wania and Konrad Mastyło. I suspect it is because Możdżer does only keep himself busy with different kind of projects and music, but also has been investing time writing scores by himself.

Later into the score more comical elements are introduced, and in the final part the composer displays a wonderful sense for adventurous music. Preisner often uses playful rhythmic bass strings to set a comical tone that everyone will know from an average comedy score and creates a simple and effective sense of tongue-in-cheek. Some pieces of music are clearly meant as a funny and nostalgic homages to the period of film making in Spain's 1950s and the specific theme of the film about the queen Isabel. I'm sure many will be reminded of certain types of films and their music. Preisner plays a lot with general clichés as he uses many Spanish influences, such as enchanting pieces for plucking of the Spanish guitar, expressive and passionate use of brass, woodwind and string sections. When you listen to them, you'll probably be bathed into very familiarly grounds of a ''Spanish flavored'' score. There are also some cues that have a very classical and royal sounding style, including moments where you hear a typical royal fanfare, or moments that reflect a baroque style.

La Vualta de Macarena is an example of a cue that is dictated by the rhythm of the piano and bass strings, joined by the plucking of Spanish guitars and irresistibly charming classical Spanish string and brass sections. It are these sorts of cues that sum up the strength of La Reina de España; charming, funny and emotionally gripping. A fine example of the more heroic, adventurous type of music can be found in the Rescate cues (and the Titulos for that matter), including a much more expressive and flamboyant use of melody and pace, classical and baroque in sound, while clearly having the usual touch of Preisner's regular voice.

The score would not seem terribly interesting if not for the fact that Preisner's own idiosyncratic color and style blend with the more cliché music that was required for this film, resulting in a very refreshing type of score. I often found myself cheering how wonderful Preisner handles this type of music and could really prove to be an example for anyone else who ventures in such territories. Strangely enough, the only thing you might expect is the use of a choir, but for some reason Preisner abstains from using it. The release includes a lot of shorter and varied cues, evoking moments of charm, dramatic reflection to extensively fun, while there is a certain kind of flow that does not hinder the listening experience.

La Reina de España is a score that might require repeated listening to fully appreciate the type of score that Preisner delivered and could be considered amongst his most optimistic works next to Sportsman van de Eeuw. It definitely tastes for more and would be very interesting to see Preisner score another comedy sometime soon, perhaps 'unhindered' by influences evident in La Reina de España.

The score was made available on cd by Quartet Records, who previously released Un Secret / Menachem & Fred and Anglaja. A digital album was released by Atresmusica. Highly recommended.

Track List

1. 1938-1956 (3.55)
2. Fontiveros Vuelve / Fontiveros Returns (1.46)
3. En el Estudio / The Studio (2.27)
4. Ana (1.47)
5. Guitarra / Guitar (1.02)
6. Boda / Wedding (0.34)
7. Cuelgamuros (2.27)
8. La Vuelta de Macarena / Macarena Returns (2.41)
9. Isabel y Fernando / The Catholic Kings (0.49)
10. Leo 1 (0.23)
11. El "Accidente" / The "Accident" (0.44)
12. Miradas / Macarena & Leo 1 (1.45)
13. Macarena en Cuelgamuros / The Cross (0.39)
14. Macarena & Fontiveros (1.13)
15. Adiós / Goodbye (0.30)
16. Granada (2.48)
17. Between "Action!" and "Cut!" (0.39)
18. Miradas / Macarena & Leo 2 (0.26)
19. Cantina / Conspiracy 1 (0.48)
20. Ramón / 2nd "Accident" (1.34)
21. "El suspiro del moro" / The Moor's Sigh (0.33)
22. "Llora como mujer..." / "Cry Like A Woman..." (0.47)
23. Conspirando 2 / Conspiracy 2 (0.43)
24. Conspirando 3 / Conspiracy 3 (1.12)
25. Conspirando 4 / Conspiracy 4 (2.12)
26. Conspirando 5 / Conspiracy 5 (0.18)
27. Los Juanelos (0.40)
28. Rescate 1 / Rescue 1 (1.46)
29. Rescate 2 / Rescue 2 (0.58)
30. Rescate 3 / Rescue 3 (0.42)
31. Rescate 4 ("Gracias, Reina") / Rescue 4 ("Thanks, My Queen") (1.34)
32. Rescate (Final) / Rescue (Final) (0.40)
33. Escapando en la Noche / Night Escape (1.39)
34. "Oh My God!" (0.38)
35. María Guerrero / At the Theater (0.24)
36. Control de Carretera / Roadblock 1 & 2 (3.07)
37. Franco y Macarena / Franco is Coming! (3.26)
38. Titulos / End Credits Part I (1.53)
39. Titulos / End Credits Part II (1.42)
40. Titulos / End Credits Part III (1.36)

Bonus Track
41. Piano Theme (2.24)

Total Length: 57.51
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(total of 1 votes - average 5/5)

Released by

Quartet Records (regular release 2016)