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Review by Brad Green:
From a vantage point other than our own planetary system, ďSolĒ doubtless appears as just another twinkle in the Milky Way. Nor does our sun boast any remarkable specifications: itís a G2 main sequence star, a celestial minnow compared to a blue giant and not even big enough to supernova when, in about five billion years, it exhausts its hydrogen supply and settles into retirement as a planetary nebula. There is, however, something remarkable, perhaps even unique, about the third rock that orbits it; and the inhabitants of planet Earth are sure going to miss their star in its present form, when it ceases to provide the right conditions for life and forces the packing of extra-long distance suitcases. 

So a tribute to our beloved source of light and heat deserves the biggest screen available, and the most majestic of soundtracks. Composer Nigel Westlake teams here with director John Weiley for their fourth Imax collaboration, a film which features rare footage from some of the most sophisticated telescopes ever built and explores the history of manís relationship with that big golden globe that arcs across our sky.

Westlakeís soundtrack reflects the multifarious nature of Solís influence both on life itself and human culture. The opening track commences with churchly intervals that segue into a violin melody, thus establishing a dual aspect of awe and lyricism that is inherent throughout the score. A chorus is introduced from time to time, reinforcing the spiritual overtones, while bursts of percussion and a variety of ethnic instrumentation recall the mythology and ritual of primitive sun worship. 

Shifts in mood and dynamic take us from the poetry of burnt magenta sunrises to the tumult, hardly dreamt about back here on earth, of the nuclear reactions in the sunís core. Westlake evokes the sunís life as drama by referencing Hollywood idiom -- majestic brass and strings statements that could serve in a Star Trek instalment, scale and arpeggio flourishes that bring to mind Danny Elfman whimsy, violin and woodwind melodies in the mode of James Horner romanticism -- but the scoreís coherent yet intricate structure elevate it a galaxy beyond pastiche. 

In five billion years from now, our descendants could do a lot worse than track down some copies to pack in those long distance bags. Even in isolation from the grand Imax images, this soundtrack is and will remain a worthy tribute to humanityís warm old benefactor.

Published July 29, 2004

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TITLE: Solarmax
ID: 476 176-1
SCORE: Nigel Westlake

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