Man of God

Zbigniew Preisner

" Yet, the score as released by Caldera records, their fourth, both digitally and on CD is simply outstanding. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Man of God is a 2021 Greek film directed by Yelena Popovic. The movie tells the life story of Saint Nektarios of Aegina, the humble Greek Orthodox priest beloved by the people who was persecuted by religious authorities, stripped of his priesthood and sent into exile.

Greece is another country Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner has often spoken about with much love. Not only does he like the people,the culture, being there, it is also evident musically; scoring the Greek film Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis in 1994, the unfinished classical concert in Acropolis (in collaboration with his late friend KieĊ›lowski), Song for the Unification of Europe being sung in Koine Greek,the live concerts and now his second Greek feature.

The score to Man of God is constructed out of three musical parts to allude to the metaphysical spirituality of Saint Nektarios; the recognizable Greek flavored performances of the qanun, meditative low-key electronics and pieces of intriguing Byzantine choir performances, which Preisner' collaborative cues with Lisa Gerrard try to resemble. Furthermore, this unerring musical mixture is fecundated by all the familiar musical characteristics in which Preisner excels, which presumably makes the musical design a tretogoly and not a tryptyk. In particular, the idiosyncratic reflective music, and the favorable use of the gracious whirling string melody.

At first, the use of the qanun, performed by Panos Dimitrako, is presented solely for the instrument, as in the opening cue and Aegina, only to receive treatments mixed with orchestral layers later on. Beauty of Aegina (2:01) combines the qanun with the subdued, whirling orchestral string melody, but in Man of God – End Credits (4:53), the two are paired in the finale, taking turns, ending on a lavish, intensified performance of the qanun and the orchestra. Regardless of authentic use of instruments and complementing the Greek musical heritage, both Preisner and Eleni Karaindrou, the most inspiring Greek (film) composer of all times, share a very similar approach to a lot of their works.

The Byzantine choir pieces by the Choir of Chanters The Maestros of the Psaltic Art & Achilleas G. Chaldaekes take on three different variations of Kyrie Eleison. The first 1.42 versions is traditional, and yet surreal, the second Byzantine version is different because of the solo voice, and the third (Kyrie Eleison (Prayer) , morphs intro a merger with the metaphysical use of electronics and subdued plucked strings. The composer also wanted to establish a personal musical cue to pay tribute to the pope, Song for Saint Nectarios, but it is not featured in the film. Additionally, Preisner wrote two cues, for electronic reflective sounds and piano, Loss and Misery, which he then took to Gerrard, who by her own thoughts of mind, sung to closely appeal to the sense of a Byzantium choir. Both are very evocative, but I do not see how these resemble a Byzantine choir.

The use of electronics has been part of the musical design of a variety of scores by Preisner. Yet, as his musical language evolved, electronics have been given a rather different existence, especially noticeable in his standalone work Our Lands and Skyggenes dal. For Man of God, they merge with familiar distilled use of solo instruments, and the orchestra, and the tryptyk to the score. As a standalone cue, In the Darkness gives voice to an entirely electronic, solemn ambience, while in other cues, such as Conversation with God, a piano does emerge alongside in the tradition of the more vintage Preisner fashion.

Several cues have received digital standalone releases as a single, a thing I will never be able to comprehend fully, even though it includes the personal Song for Saint Nectarios. Yet, the score as released by Caldera records, their fourth Preisner, both digitally and on CD, is simply outstanding. Thus far, 2021 has given his music an appropriate amount of exposure in terms of releases; Caldera released Man of God and El Olvido Que Seremos, his Psalm: Forever Remembered saw the day of light, and on top of that, a remaster of his score to La Double Vie de Véronique.

The film was released in Greek theaters in August of 2021, and hopefully receives wider distribution given time. The composer compared the film to the outstanding Andrei Tarkovsky movie Andrey Rublev, which by the makes of it, is a rather splendid comparison, and only arouses great curiosity.

1. Man of God – The Beginning of a Story (0:45)
2. Searching for Values (1:14)
3. Conversation (1:46)
4. Evia (1:11)
5. In the Darkness (2:15)
6. Serenity (2:14)
7. Kyrie Eleison (1:42)
8. Aegina (1:15)
9. New Life (2:16)
10. Conversation of God (2:02)
11. Kyrie Eleison (Byzantine Version) (1:27)
12. Beauty of Aegina (2:01)
13. Deceptive Calm (1:43)
14. Kyrie Eleison (Prayer) (2:01)
15. Misery (1:33)*
16. Serenity (Orchestral Version) (1:54)
17. Humiliation of the Priest (0:51)
18. Loss (1:55)*
19. Final Breath (2:04)
20. Song for Saint Nectarios (0:52)
21. Man of God – End Credits (4:53)

Total duration: 37:54

*Music Composed by Zbigniew Preisner and Lisa Gerrard

(click to rate this score)  
(total of 8 votes - average 4.19/5)

Released by

Caldera records (regular release 2021)