Ole Schmidt – Jeanne D’Arc

Ole Schmidt – Jeanne D’Arc (film score)
Nina Pavlovski (soprano); Erling Moldrup (guitar)
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Ole Schmidt
Dacapo – 8224112 (CD)

“This is new music written expressly for the famous 1927 Carl Dreyer silent movie. Ole Schmidt is best known as the conductor who recorded an impressive cycle of Nielsen symphonies for Unicorn in the early 1970s. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the main theme from his Joan of Arc soundtrack uses a wordless soprano, much like the one that’s employed in the slow movement of Nielsen’s Third. However, instead of being accompanied by misty strings and gently “whooping” horns, this vocalise receives a more exotic accompaniment, complete with bongos and acoustic guitar–sort of along the lines of Nielsen meets Yma Sumac. One look at the track listings only reinforces that old adage that the devil gets the best tunes (or at least the most colorful orchestration): The Interrogation Begins; Torture; Fever; The Judges; and of course, At the Stake. The final burning scene is loaded with many gratuitous whacks of the big gong, and if it’s all a bit “over the top,” well, so is the subject matter, and I’m certainly not complaining. Schmidt’s score really is fun, and the recorded sound is rich and full.”

Barry Guerrero Classicstoday.com