Michal Lorenc

" A second important theme is for Eleny, which is mostly presented as a Romanian dance "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Bandyta (Bastard) is a 1997 European co-production directed by the Polish Maciej Dejczer, who made his theatrical debut with the film 300 Mil do Nieba in 1989. For both the director and composer Michał Lorenc it was their first notable work. Lorenc, who would return for Bandyta and continue to collaborate with the director on various other projects.

The film stars an international cast with important roles for actors such as Til Schweiger, Polly Walker and Pete Postlethwaite. In the start of the 1990s, the British government decided to send prisoners with short sentences to serve abroad. Some went to Romania, to serve in schools, orphanages, and hospitals. Some were brutal beasts, like the protagonist Gerry Brutecki. Unexpectedly, he starts caring for the fate of these children and wants to help them, opposing the director of an orphanage, who has in fact other plans, while falling in love with sister Eleny.

Bandyta is a wonderful dramatic score, with moments reserved for engaging love, optimism and brutality, even a standalone piece of jazz noir, altogether a mixture representative for a score by the composer.  It includes his delightful manner of writing for the Sinfonia Varsova orchestra, with great string and brass writing, overlaid by ethnically (sounding) solo instruments and voices.

Because of the setting in Romania, Lorenc attempts to give his music an ethnic flavour within the idiom of its musical culture. The thing that makes all his scores with such a similar premise work is because of an approach, somewhere in between ´traditional western´ and Lorenc´ personal semi-ethnic palette using solo instruments, while also employing authentic tools such as voices and a children’s choir singing in Romanian.

In establishing the Romanian flavour Lorenc uses musicians of the Polish band Desorients, with whom he shares a long and close musical friendship, and their contributions are of vital essence in establishing this. I value their input only because of their great performances, which carry trademarks setting them apart from a variety of other scores, often aiming for a more comfortable, not necessarily less beautiful, approach. Another interesting voice is that of the talented Polish singer Kayah.

Mro Iło introduces us to the painstakingly beautiful theme, using solo and voices from a children´s choir, singing in Romanian to a melody with a Gypsy violin performance and orchestral elements. This memorable plight for the fate of the children goes through numerous wondrous instrumental disguises, to return for an even more expressive and longer second variation Mro Iło (Moje serce), Wariant II. The choir also works wonderfully in an aesthetically beautiful companionship with ethnic woodwinds, driven by a great rhythmic section, heard in the mesmerizing Requiem Balkańskie. It does bring back memories of the emotional explosions next-door neighbour Bulgarian Voices are known for. The Mro Iło themes shows similarities to a primary theme of Kresimir Debski´1999 epic adventure Ogniem i mieczem, evident in cues such as Pieśń Jana.

A second important theme is for Eleny, which is mostly presented as a Romanian dance (Taniec Eleny), developing in a fast pace, a true pleasure. Like the theme for the children, this theme is also presented in different takes, like a cimbalom version and fully orchestral. Another, standalone dance like piece is presented in the cue Targ, with evocative woodwinds and yet another great rhythmic section.

These first two themes are themes that are not likely to be forgotten, in fact, you will probably be humming them for weeks. That is what makes a theme good, which in this case should belong in the collective memory of many people. The third is equally brilliant, which is an orchestral love theme for the protagonist and Eleny. It sounds like a confused love, a love of tragedy and hope. Brute I Elena introduces it and it eventually transforms into a hopeful, more ethnically flavoured, percussion driven closing statement in Powrót. It is as attractive as the before mentioned themes, but just less hummable.

Another wonderful selection of cues are relying on orchestral strength, such as the highly emotional (and partly dissonant) Porwanie Iorgu, or driving, rhythmic force of string and brass in the cue Pogoń.

Bandyta is one of the best efforts to show Michał Lorenc in providing, mainly, a strong ethnic flavoured score, with admirable trademark string and brass writing. In context of the film, some music is perhaps too overpowering, unlike other masterpieces like Psy, in which the dominant nature of the score could not be any better. Apparently, Michał Lorenc had composed a few hours of music for the film, providing him with the luxury of choosing between different takes for all the scenes that required music. About an hour remained. Given the very inspirational score it ultimately became, I am curious to hear the dismissals.

1. Mro iło - 2:02
2. Taniec Eleny - 3:30
3. Brute i Elena - 1:56
4. Pogoń - 1:51
5. Temat Eleny na cymbały - 1:39
6. Góry - 2:00
7. Kradzież pistoletu - 1:57
8. Prezent Brute`a - 1:31
9. Sen Eleny - 1:45
10. Porwanie lorgu - 2:27
11. Moscu i tatuaż - 2:23
12. Góry w słońcu - 2:01
13. Pogoń, lekarstwa, karabiny - 2:31
14. Requiem Bałkańskie - 3:55
15. Deszcz - 1:55
16. Temat Eleny na skrzypce - 1:38
17. Ulice Londynu - 2:45
18. Targ - 1:47
19. Elegia na ?mierć szpitala - 1:26
20. Oczekiwanie - 1:58
21. W tunelu Eleny - 1:45
22. Powrót - 2:56
23. Taniec Eleny. Wariant II - 3:28
24. Mro iło. Wariant II - 3:12

Total duration: 53:55

(written 29-12-2019)
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(total of 3 votes - average 5/5)

Released by

Pomaton (regular release 1997)