Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina” continues to be a source of inspiration for filmmakers, having been adapted over a dozen times in different forms by directors all over the world. Joe Wright’s feature film boldly breaks from tradition, confining most of the plot on a single soundstage. To score the drama, Wright returns to composer Dario Marianelli after working with The Chemical Brothers on “Hanna.” “Anna Karenina” is their fourth collaboration.
The score opens with an Overture, based on an infectious 1-2-3-hold rhythm similar in feel to Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Jazz Suites.” The melody is based on an old Russian folk tune, "In the Field Stood a Birch Tree." Marianelli uses this line throughout the score, sometimes taking it into darker and more somber territory, such as the cue “I Don’t Want You To Go.” In other cues, like “Can-Can,” there are elements of klezmer or Jewish melodies, with instrumentation to match--clarinet, trumpet, accordion, and fast-paced percussion.
Standout musicians on the score include violinist Jack Liebeck, whose instrument was also put to great use by Marianelli for his score to “Jane Eyre” (2011). Anoushka Shankar also gets co-writing credit on one track.
In all, “Anna Karenina” is a fine album, clearly influenced by Russian composers like Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, and the folk melodies they often drew upon themselves. Great listening!