Audio: On the Score with composer Carter Burwell

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One of Hollywood scoring’s most singular, yet stylistically diverse and intelligent voices belongs to the New York City born and based Carter Burwell. A former Harvard Lampoon cartoonist and punk rock performer, Burwell made an auspicious movie debut along with the Coen Brothers for 1984’s “Blood Simple,” a score that immediately showed the composer’s talent for capturing clever, dramatic irony. Over the last three decades and counting, Carter Burwell has segued from the multiplex mainstream of “Twilight,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “A Knight’s Tale,” and “The Blind Side” to such arthouse pictures as “Gods and Monsters,” “Fur” and “Howl.” Given an astonishing musical range that can jump from twangy looniness to hilariously bombastic drama and cutting-edge synth rhythms, it’s no wonder that Carter Burwell has become the eccentric, oft-used muse for some of the cinema’s equally unique directorial voices, among them Bill Condon (“Mr. Holmes” “Kinsey”), Spike Jonze (“Inside John Malkovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”) and of course The Coen Brothers (“Fargo” and the forthcoming “Hail Caesar”).

Given a fall film season that finds Burwell on impressive display with the eccentric stop motion animated chamber score for Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa” the swaggering punk rock gangsterism of Brian Hegeland’s “Legend,” the most emotionally impactful Burwell score belongs to “Carol,” his new collaboration with director Todd Haynes, Having first teamed for the 70s glam rock odyssey of “Velvet Goldmine,” then gone back to the 30s and 40s for the tormented career woman that netted HBO’s “Mildred Pierce” miniseries a best score Golden Globe, Burwell and Haynes now journey to the 1950s. It’s an equally repressive time for Carol (Cate Blanchett), an unhappily married woman who finds her heart’s desire in the salesgirl Theresa (Rooney Mara), a forbidden romance that tears both of their worlds apart. For attraction that must remain in the shadows, Burwell creates a beautiful, hushed, thematic tapestry of echoing piano and aching strings. It’s a score of sensual, sad desire and the creeping threat of proper society that continues to show Burwell’s keen sense of human nature, and the his talent for weaving melodic spells of irresistible fate.

Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Carter Burwell reflects on the poignant touch he’s given to the lovers of “Carol,” and reflects on a career of creative, musical liberation.

Click above to Listen Now

a Buy the Soundtrack: CAROL
a Buy the Soundtrack: MILDRED PIERCE
a Buy the Soundtrack: LEGEND
a Buy the Soundtrack: MR. HOLMES
a Buy the Soundtrack: FARGO
a Carter Burwell’swebsite

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