Few films in recent memory have managed to play with music as inventively as Grand Piano does. The customized Bösendorfer that Selznick plays throughout the film is as much a living, breathing character as the smugly threatening voice of John Cusack, directing the pianist's every move at gunpoint. As such, the piano is the soul and center of the film's score, featuring prominently in every piece. What's inspired about this particular score is that it does double duty, acting both as the music played in film by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and also the film's underscore, adapting to the momentum and tension of the film while keeping the fluidity and standalone strength of a classical composition. Attributed to a fictional classical composer in the film, the music is actually the work of Spanish composer Victor Reyes, best known for his score to the claustrophobic Ryan Reynolds thriller Buried. Combined with that score, Grand Piano solidifies why Reyes could soon be the new name in horror/thriller scoring!
The heart of his score is the Grand Piano concerto, a piece comprised of three orchestral movements played by Selznick and the orchestra during the film. With two movements ("Grand Piano Concerto - 1st Movement" and "Grand Piano Concerto - 2nd Movement") lasting over ten minutes each, this is a sizable chunk of Reyes' score and a beautifully structured one at that. Anchored by the nuanced piano work of John Lenehen, the movements run the gambit of emotions, with grandiose moments of awe and quieter moments of anxiety perfectly accentuating the momentum of the narrative. Reyes seems to take cues from some of the great classical composers, like Schubert and Rachmaninov (I'm sure listeners more fluent in classical music will be able to pick out further references), making for a trio as impressive as standalone listens as they are when integrated into the film's fast-paced narrative. With only five tracks total on the album, there is not a moment here I'd recommend passing over; Reyes' gorgeously enthralling work will have you rapt from beginning to end! Bookending the three movements of the Grand Piano concerto are "Grand Piano Main Titles" and "La Cinquette". The former, an off-kilter, tension-inducing piece, is guided (as expected) by sharp piano notes and some truly creative percussion work, calling to mind the gear-like inner workings of some formidable machine. It's a clear homage to Ennio Morricone's memorable main title piece from The Untouchables, down to its jaunty progressions and sinister infectiousness. The final piece on the album, "La Cinquette", described in the film as "unplayable" and representing quite literally everything Tom Selznick fears about his return to the stage, is a jaw-droppingly complex piece. Written for a solo pianist, it starts off reserved and contemplative and swiftly reveals itself to be something wild and formidable. The composer himself describes it as the "Octopus Concerto", for the reason that a pianist would need eight hands to play it!
Perhaps more than any other score you'll hear this year, Victor Reyes' Grand Piano absolutely commands its film. Rarely do you get the chance to hear music and narrative interacting in such a creative, inspired, and downright fun way. Even if the film is little more than a glorified B-Movie, it's evident that it's been constructed with great heart and care. And to boot, Victor Reyes has composed something that's really quite special to tie it all together - a score not to be missed, particularly if you're fond of Bernard Herrmann, classical music, or an irresistible blending of the two.
A Few Recommended Tracks: At only five tracks, you should just go for the whole album!
Label: MovieScore Media
Availability: 5 track edition