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Copperhead by Laurent Eyquem

Copperhead

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Copperhead (Soundtrack) by Laurent Eyquem
Copperhead (Soundtrack) by Laurent Eyquem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copperhead (Soundtrack) by Laurent Eyquem

Copperhead
Composed by Laurent Eyquem
Varese Sarabande Records (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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“Despite its conservative nature, COPPERHEAD still manages to stand out from the field simply because this sort of unabashedly emotional music has become something of a rarity in the last few years.”

Civil Score
Review by Edmund Meinerts

 

Director Ron Maxwell seems to have a thing for making a Civil War movie every decade; after 1993’s GETTYSBURG and 2003’s GODS AND GENERALS we have 2013’s COPPERHEAD (though no direct sequel this time). Musically, Maxwell has relied on broad thematic scores from RANDY EDELMAN and JOHN FRIZZELL, the latter in particular the surprising highlight of a career otherwise dominated by mundane horror efforts. For COPPERHEAD, Maxwell turned to little-known, classically-trained French composer LAURENT EYQUEM, who has followed suit with an impressive score with an emphasis on melody, emotion and beauty.

“Copperhead – Main Title” (1) will tell you everything you need to know about this score, introducing a fine, long-lined theme and passing it around the orchestra: first piano, then clarinet, then a gorgeous period-appropriate fiddle and finally a horn, all backed by warm and occasionally sweeping strings. It’s the sort of thing that will appeal immensely to JAMES HORNER fans (LEGENDS OF THE FALL comes to mind, no surprise considering the shared subject material), and it’s simply a treat to hear.

The score has a plethora of subthemes, though many of them seem to be direct offshoots of the main title and are relatively hard to tell apart. As such, you get cues like “The Picnic” (10) where the harmonic progressions are very similar to the main title, but the melody over the top (a sprightly flute, in this case) is different. “A Poor Beggar in This World” (8, 17) is the first really distinct subtheme, an extremely melancholic and very classically-inclined motif for solo piano. “The World Turned Upside Down” (9, 23) introduces another one, with the fiddle returning and joined by a solo cello. And there’s even a little melody in “Jeff’s Decision” (11), “Visiting Esther” (16) and “Sharpshooters on the Ridge” (28) that seems to indicate that the Shire has joined the Civil War as well (on the side of the Union, presumably?).

All of this material is very nice indeed, but after listening for a while, COPPERHEAD’s greatest flaw starts to become apparent: the lack of variety. This score is about as experimental as penicillin, and after the twentieth introverted, melodic cue in a row the experience starts to get a little dull. There are a few upbeat moments, most prominent among them the cute pseudo-Western fanfare in “The Enlistment” (12), but not nearly enough to keep the pace at anything above languid. It doesn’t help that after luring the listener in with the excellent main title, EYQUEM never quite manages to return to the same emotional heights, discounting its reprise in “Resurrection” (30) – instead he plays it a little more low-key, reflective rather than expansive.

Despite its conservative nature, COPPERHEAD still manages to stand out from the field simply because this sort of unabashedly emotional music has become something of a rarity in the last few years. Among the film’s largely negative reviews, a handful have pointed out the score as being too manipulative, an unpleasant reminder of the same nonsense arguments leveled against JOHN WILLIAMS’ WAR HORSE – yes, how dare the music actually do what it was composed to do? The score’s lack of variety does make it fall just short of a higher rating, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this pretty score at some level, even if it is just as pleasant background music.
 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Copperhead - Main Title 2:48  *****
2 Sunday Morning 0:48  ****
3 One room Schoolhouse 2:24  ****
4 The Dev'l Among the Tailors (Trad.) 1:42  N/A
5 The Simple Life 0:45  ***
6 Avery's Porch 0:55  ****
7 Blessed are the Peacemakers 1:02  ***
8 A Poor Beggar in This World/The Mill 3:17  ****
9 The World Turned Upside Down 2:55  ****
10 The Picnic 1:12  ****
11 Jeff's Decision 3:00  ***
12 The Enlistment 1:49  ****
13 Candlelight Vigil/The Simple Life 2:34  ****
14 Hurley's Dream/ Casualties at the Front 2:13  ****
15 A Peaceful Man 0:55  ****
16 Visiting Esther 0:52  ***
17 No News/ A Poor Beggar in This World 2:19  ***
18 Warner's Return 1:08  ***
19 Missing in Action 1:08  ***
20 A Fine Singer 2:04  ****
21 Ni Goes South 1:05  ***
22 The Ballot Box 0:47  ****
23 The World Turned Upside Down 2:21  ***
24 Tears/ A Peaceful Man 1:49  ****
25 The Are Coming Tonight 0:30  **
26 The Locket 3:46  ***
27 The Prodigal Son 1:09  ****
28 Sharpshooters on the Ridge 2:28  ****
29 Reunion 1:34  ***
30 Resurrection 5:37  ****
31 Slumber My Darling (Stephen Foster) 5:08  N/A
  Total Running Time (approx) 60 minutes  

 

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