Heffes Intimate Piano Release

Quite a number of years ago, I had the chance to hear the score for Touching the Void. This 2003 documentary/adventure film had a score from a composer I had never heard of at the time, Alex Heffes. It was an impressive effort and over the next decade it was always a delight when one of his scores made it my way to review. Now he has given everyone a chance to hear a little bit of his work in underscoring with a new digital release from Silva records. Sudden Light is a compilation of new piano versions from some 13 different film scores arranged and performed on piano by the composer. It represents a personal accomplishment as well as Heffes had suffered a damaged left hand and thought he would never play the piano again. For many listeners this new release will be a journey of discovery of some of his finest themes from a career that spans over two decades.


“The Final Letter” opens the album with this beautiful thematic statement from one of Heffes’ most heartfelt scores (Dear Frankie). The undulating arpeggios of this theme can also be heard on the following “I Have Been Here Before” from Hope Gap (a bonus track includes a reading overlaid on the music featuring Annette Bening). The lyrical writing features some quite beautiful writing that in these piano versions have an occasional improvisational quality. In addition to these scenic themes, Heffes also includes a number of character themes from these various scores. They lend themselves well to this more simple laying out of such entrancing melodic material. The undulating undercurrents create a rather tranquil quality in a variety of reflective and touching moments. These move from the more poignant to those that have a bit more mystery or darkness (like “Aya’s Theme” from Emperor; or “Ronnie’s Theme” from Ronnies). There is also a delightful period pieces from The 24th (“Boston and Marie” and “Marie’s Rag”), a variety of waltz themes, and music from a personal favorite, Heffes’ score for Touching the Void.


Sudden Light is a rather wonderful way to discover, or re-discover, some quite fine film music stripped to its emotional core.The music is often quite stunning even in this setting and makes for a relaxed and enjoyable listenThis release is among the label’s finer compilations of film music with the added authority of being performed here by the composer.

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