The Reader

Composed By:  Nico Muhly

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Reader is a movie based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink that takes place in Germany after World War II Kate Winslet portrays Hanna, a woman who helps a young teenage boy recover from scarlet fever.  Amazed by the fact that a complete stranger was willing to help him overcome his illness, Michael (David Kross) seeks out Hanna to thank her and the two begin a passionate affair.  When Hanna disappears without any warning, Michael is distraught.  Eight years later, an adult Michael (Ralph Fiennes), now a law student, is observing the Nazi war crime trials when he once again comes upon Hanna.  To his shock and amazement, she is a defendant in the courtroom.  As Hanna’s past is revealed, a secret is uncovered that will have a profound impact on both their lives.

            The soundtrack of The Reader is composed by Nico Muhly, an American composer with a Masters in Music received from the Juliard School where he studied musical composition under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano.  Nico Muhly has created orchestral compositions that have been premiered by the American Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Juliard Orchestra and more.  His solo film score credits include the Choking Man and Joshua, but he has also worked with Philip Glass on a number of film and stage projects.  Nico Muhly is also known as a skilled performer, arranger and conductor and has worked with such performers as Björk, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Antony of Antony and the Johnsons

            The music composed for The Reader Soundtrack is a mix of emotions – there is the wonderment of a teenager falling in love for the first time, but there is also a sense of underlying sadness.  Each track is orchestral, combining the sounds of woodwinds, strings, etc.  However, keyboards play a big part in this soundtrack and the sadness of the piano pieces give the listener an idea that all is not as it may seem with Hanna.  The fact that this feeling is achieved without any visual aide means that Nico Muhly did his job perfectly.  A musical score should always convey the emotions and various plot changes of the film it was created for and Muhly has a complete grasp of this idea.  As Michael begins to reveal things about the woman he once loved, the music becomes darker, the ending track – Who Was She? – becoming absolutely gloomy and haunting.

            The Reader Soundtrack perfectly reflects the emotions of the story it was created for.  Orchestral music lovers and classical music enthusiasts will find The Reader Soundtrack makes an excellent addition to their music collection.  Bravo to Nico Muhly for a job well done.


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