A new score for Marcel L'Herbier's Feu Mathias Pascal

In most silent film scores, there are a number of musical thematic materials that, through the process of character development, blossom (or decay) in the course of the film. Composers tend to develop those passages in the traditional manner, through melodic and rhythmic exploration. Nevertheless, with Feu Mathias Pascal a much deeper treatment was required, as the score, over a span of nearly three hours, sees two lifetimes come and go, is constantly walking the thin line between the various forms of hysterics (and genres) and heavily relies on narrative, visual and expressive nuances.

Altogether, the film's complexity and modernity needed a particularly careful music approach.


The germinal voice in this score is the cembalo (harpsichord), which I used as a point of reflection for Pascal, while all the musical material pass through the hands of the player at one point or another. No theme, however, is heard the same way twice, as it changes and shifts according to Pascal's state of mind and the way he is affected by certain events.

 

Although the score is not overtly Italian in form, it does plant its feet firmly on this soil, as evidenced in the opening Tarantella. As a composer on foreign land, one cannot be unaffected by his surroundings, but rather, hopes to maintain a sense of where he has been.
While music in Pirandello's terms could be nothing but Italian, it is the combination with L'Herbier that makes it borderless.

 

Timothy Brock

 

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