Sveta Petka – Krst u Pustinji

Ana Krstaji?

" Ana Krstajic's score is an exceptionally strong body of work. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

Sveta Petka – Krst u Pustinji (Cross in the Desert, 2022) is a Serbian-Jordanian co-production directed by Hadži-Aleksandar Đurović. The film is a visceral and spiritual experience, following the transcendental journey of Saint Paraskeva throughout the Jordan desert in the 10th century.

Serbian composer Ana Krstajić has written a notable score to the film, featuring the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra, including comely cello and woodwind solos, alongside the immersive wailing vocals of Bojana Brdaric, and subsumes several arrangements of orthodox music; the Cherubic hymn Heruvimska pesma, Sveti Vladika Nikolaj Velimirovic - Cisto srce Gospod zeli and Kyrie Eleison.

In the (spiritual) journey of Paraskeva, the first thing to consider is the scope of her journey, visually, going across desolated, larger than life landscapes. It mixes this with the theme of desolation of a saint consciously living as a hermit. Musically, this grand scope is conveyed through familiar content, including notations of ethnic and religious substance; woodwinds and strings to emulate an Arabic sound, while the wailing female vocal and choir cover the religious aspect.

Then the hermit theme and its contrast of this scope, is the heart of it all combined with the spiritual, religiously, nonetheless universal emotions of Paeaskeva. For the scenes that make Pareskva reflect on the past, they are handed over to a series of instruments, but especially the minimal, light piano and minimal strings cover these strikingly. She is a devout person who is confronted with psychological turmoil and situations regarding faith, her past, demons and temptations that come across. Krstajić interconnects the mystical landscape notations with a lot of under and more overstated expressive musical statements of melancholy, doubt, demonic at times, but is above all strong in its ethereal and contemplative, spiritual tone.

Disregarding some of its familiar aspects, everything else is praiseworthy, both technically and emotionally. Ana Krstajić's score is an exceptionally strong body of work.

The composer told me the following on writing the music:

''The film is very poetic with almost no dialogue. In that sense, the role of the music was to lead an internal dialogue with the main character, whether it was her emotional sub-context or musical portrayal of her feelings towards the environment in which she is and the mission she is on. My task was to voice Paraskevas past, her childhood, as well as her feelings towards her family, but also the environment in which she currently finds herself, as well as her inner struggle and strength that does not leave her. The task was very complex, but the cooperation with the director was really fantastic and made it much easier, we realized very quickly that we understand each other very well. Working on this film was truly a dream come true for me, the story is very inspiring, as is the photography of the film itself and the opportunity to collaborate with fantastic musicians from the Balkans was such a moving experience.''

1. The Lord Desires A Pure Heart 1:18
2. Crossroads 2:57
3. Thirst 2:38
4. Childhood 3:50
5. The Path 4:02
6. Demon 0:39
7. A Gift 4:39
8. Temptation 2:43
9. Angel 2:17
10. Hunger 1:00
11. Memories 3:12
12. Rain 4:41
13. Farewell 2:33
14. Revelation 5:31
15. The Cherubic Hymn 2:42
16. The Lord Desires A Pure Heart 2:05
17. Kyrie Eleison (A Cappella version) 5:09

Total duration: 51:55

(click to rate this score)  
(total of 6 votes - average 4.25/5)

Released by

Universal Music Serbia (download only release 2023)