Septembers of Shiraz

Musical Score By: Mark Isham

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on the Dalia Sofer novel, Septembers of Shiraz stars Adrien Brody as Isaac Amin, a wealthy Jewish Iranian gemologist who is arrested at his office in Tehran shortly after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  He is tortured at the hands of his captors while his wife Farnaz (Selma Hayek) deals with the anxiety of not knowing what has happened to her husband.  Meanwhile, their faithful servant (Shoreh Aghdashloo), once loyal to their plight, now begins helping her son (Navid Navid) steal from their employer.  Isaac must eventually decide whether to give up his wealth to support the revolutionary regime or continue suffering at the hands of his captors.

                The musical score of Septembers of Shiraz was created by American composer and musician Mark Isham.  Exposed to all forms of music through his musician parents, Mark Isham studied piano and violin before turning to the trumpet as his instrument of choice.  He was fifteen when he began performing in jazz clubs in California, ultimately forming his own band called Group 87.  Isham has won a number of nominations and awards for his music for film.  His resume includes scoring for such notable films and television series as A River Runs Through It, American Crime, Eight Below, Men of Honor, Dolphin Tale, Fallen, The Accountant, Once Upon a Time and more.

                The Septembers of Shiraz Soundtrack features an orchestral score with the use of exotic guitars and percussion as a nod toward the locale of the film.  According to the composer, “For the score, I needed to find a balance between ethnicity and the universality of the story.  The circumstances are not unique to this time and place, but at the same time the story is very unique to the characters living it.  So the score needed to serve two purposes: to move between accompanying exactly what you are seeing on the screen and reflect the universal emotions of what is being expressed at the same time.  Musically, to demonstrate the dichotomy I incorporated a chamber orchestra including two cellos for a more classical sound that reflected the universality of the story and Middle Eastern percussion to reflect the ethnicity of the story and location.”

                The score of Septembers of Shiraz is rather morose featuring somber string pieces and dark orchestral tracks.  Percussion heightens the sense of fear and danger.  The few light tracks on the album are bits of memories of the past before the revolution.  Though beauty lies in some parts of this score, I found the album to be rather dark and somewhat dreary for my tastes.  Though I believe it works perfectly with the film, I don’t think I would purchase the soundtrack if I were to find it in a store, unless I was a huge Mark Isham fan with a bend toward collecting all of his works.


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