The Soloist

Dario Marianelli

" Dario orchestrates the themes in a way you've never quite heard Beethoven before. "

Written by Thomas Kiefner - Review of the regular release

Originally scheduled for release in November 2008, The Soloist, subject to delays and the Oscar buzz given to Robert Downey Jr. for his performance of journalist Steve Lopez, was put on hold, as well as the Decca soundtrack. Now scheduled for release in the US on April 24th, the Joe 'Atonement" Wright directed film also stars Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel, a classical child prodigy cellist who is living homeless on the streets of Los Angeles as a result of his mental issues. The ensuing story leads to a wonderful friendship as well as a best selling book, which examines our society and how we handle mental illness.

Academy award winner Dario Atonement Marianelli approached this soundtrack from a purely classical point of view, primarily featuring the work of Beethoven's E Flat Major 'Eroica' Symphony. This release is not a series of compilation material that one could put together. Dario orchestrates the themes in a way you've never quite heard Ludwig before. While there really isn't an original main theme, his use of the cello and how he blends the orchestra into the tracks is a work of art.

The cello playing can be tranquil, vivacious, tragic, slashing, and dissonant; all reflecting the different moods of Nathaniel. "Crazy About Beethoven" is a solo, tightly miked, with the cello performing the opening theme of the 'Eroica', the full orchestra only coming in at the end of the track. "There is No Escape" is the 'Eroica' theme but this time the cello is backed by The USC orchestra in a way you've never heard them before!

The talented Ben Hong, in an often surprisingly unique way, performs the cello solos. I would urge anyone who doesn't own his third symphony to obtain a copy. There are far too many recorded versions to recommend one, but if backed up against the wall, this reviewer would say that he owns the 1939 Toscanini/NBC Symphony Orchestra recording. Mono and a bit scratchy but superb playing overcomes any shortcomings in the recording. In addition, there are also parts of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, String Quartet #12 and #15, Sonata #4 for Piano and Cello, Triple Concerto, and Bach's Partita for Cello.

Like his use of the typewriter in Atonement, "A City Symphony" incorporates the sound of the cello into the traffic noise of a LA freeway. The sound of the cello is made to sound like a horn from a car! This opening eventually becomes the theme from the third movement of Beethoven's String Quartet #15, beginning with the solo cello and then the rest of the quartet. "Accordion Interlude", an original piece from Marianelli, is an accordion solo, but made to sound like an organ of Bach-style material, quite a very clever use of orchestrating. "Cello Lesson" is the Bach Cello Partita piece, and the concluding track is the third movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

If you're not a fan of classical material, The Soloist is probably one that you'll want to avoid unless you really take a liking to the film. If you're open to some classic material it is certainly worth a listen. If you're a fan of the classical genre you should pre-order it. I can't recommend it enough!

Also check out our interview with Dario Marianelli, in which he talks about The Soloist (Part 2 of the interview).


1. Pershing Square (0.46)
2. Crazy About Beethoven (1.58)
3. Paper Mache World (1.30)
4. A City Symphony (3.37)
5. This is My Apartment (1.50)
6. There is No Escape (1.33)
7. Falling Apart (1.07)
8. Four Billion Years (2.50)
9. Nathaniel Breaks Down (5.28)
10. Accordion Interlude (2.03)
11. The Lord's Prayer (3.10)
12. The Voices Within (2.05)
13. Sister (5.31)
14. Cello Lesson (2.24)
15. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez (11.08)

Total Length: 47.00
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 23 votes - average 3.46/5)

Released by

Decca Records B001H3KMPC (regular release 2009)

Conducted by

Benjamin Wallfisch & Esa-Pekka Salonen

Performed by

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The University of Southern California Orchestra & The Hollywood Studio Symphony