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Mary of Nazareth (Guy Farley)

August 9, 2015

Cover_MaryOfNazarethMary of Nazareth

Guy Farley, 2015, Caldera Records
37 tracks, 78:24

If, like me, you weren’t familiar with Guy Farley before, then this is a great opportunity to get acquainted, as “Maria di Nazaret” is a beautiful, heart-felt work.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Giacomo Campiotti, “Maria di Nazaret” is a television movie from 2012. The two part movie was a huge success in Italy as it recounts the story of Jesus’ mother Maria and accompanies her throughout the life of the son of God until his death on the cross.

The music for Maria di Nazaret was written by British composer and conductor Guy Farley (“Secret Sharer”, “Modigliani”, “Nature’s Miracle Orphans”, “Madre Teresa”) who delivers a diverse score, featuring orchestra and choir as well as female vocals and solos for ethnic instruments, played by Tony Hinnigan (“Braveheart”). Additionally, Caldera included another score by Farley on the CD, “L’uomo che sognava con l’aquile”, which was written for an extensive Italian television production with Terence Hill from 2006. The tenth CD-release of Caldera Records features a detailed booklet-text by Stephan Eicke and artwork by Luis Miguel Rojas. The CD was produced by Stephan Eicke and John Elborg.

What does it sound like?

Confession time – Whilst I’d heard of Guy Farley, I’d never heard any of his music and I didn’t know what to expect for “Maria di Nazaret”. Sometimes that’s a good thing. It’s nice to be surprised, …pleasantly anyway.

A long-lined, lush melody for strings features in “Maria’s Theme”, the album’s opener. It’s a nicely rounded cue, simply stating the main theme and no more. It very much has a European flavour, and already you could draw careful comparisons to Ennio Morricone or Fernando Velazquez; something that will become more evident as the score progresses. “Maria Titles” is an altogether different affair, much more atmospheric with dark strings, rumbling percussion, ethnic flutes and ethnic female vocalist (who provides a short, haunting melody). It has a distinct (and by now familiar) Middle-Eastern sound. The use of percussion and a certain 4-note motif are somewhat reminiscent of James Horner at his most minimalist (again, this is a similarity that will resurface throughout the album). The Arabic-sounding melody from “Maria Titles” (or at least a very close variation on it) is reprised in “The Serpent”, but here it sounds more European through the use of strings and a Western female vocalist.

“Mary’s Journey” is a lovely cue that starts of a bit atmospheric with sparse piano notes and soft, dreamy synth pads in the background. As the cue progresses, these obscure piano notes come together to form a rather lovely melody. “Shepherds” offers a beautiful theme for strings and flute that, at first, may remind of Ennio Morricone. The cues that follow tend to reprise and vary upon the various melodies that Farley has already laid out. Light percussion adds a new colour, and a little more drive, to “Israel”. The melody here (reprised in “Lost and Found”) again reminds of Horner, as do parts of “He Will Live”.

With “Lost and Found” we’re moving into the second part of the movie, which clearly revolves around Jesus’ crucifixion. Dramatic strings, vocals and percussion feature in the harrowing “39 Lashes”, and to a lesser extent in “The Cross.” “Memories” and “End Titles” provide a beautiful, lyrical end to the score.

The album then moves into its ‘bonus’ section, with “Reunion” from “Wake of Death”. The arrangement for strings and female vocal fits seamlessly with the “Maria” score, and continues to remind a little of Morricone. The next eleven cues are taken from the ever so lovely “L’uomo Che Sognava Con l’Aquile”. The opening titles seem to combine lush Horneresque strings with Thomas Newmanesque staccato writing. This continues throughout the score, in which piano and flute also play key roles. There is something nostalgic about this score, even considering it’s from 2006. Yes, the string writing is very similar to that of Horner and Newman, but even beyond that…it seems to have more in common with light orchestral scores from the 90s than anything from the naughties.

As is common with Caldera productions, the album concludes with a three-minute commentary by composer Guy Farley himself, providing his thoughts on the music.

Is it any good?

Guy Farley’s music for “Maria di Nazaret”, as well as “Wake of Death” and particularly “L’Umo Che Sognava Con l’Aguile” is absolutely gorgeous and heart-felt. There are lush melodies aplenty here, orchestrated for strings, female vocals and various ethnic instruments. It often borders on (or even moves into) territories that are more commonly associated with Morricone, Velazquez and Horner – and I say this for illustrative purposes. I really wouldn’t want to take anything away from Farley’s wonderful writing; and I’m sure fans of the aforementioned composers will find plenty to enjoy here.

The orchestrations are a little homogeneous throughout and there is a lot of repetition of the themes, though this does make for a coherent listening experience. It’s a wonderful album and if, like me, you weren’t familiar with Farley before, then this is a great opportunity to get acquainted. Caldera’s album comes with a wonderful booklet containing extensive liner notes and striking images from the film.

Rating [4/5]


Maria di Nazaret
1. Maria’s Theme (1:29)
2. Maria – Titles (2:11)
3. The Serpent (1:39)
4. Mary’s Journey (1:40)
5. Shepherds (2:04)
6. The Game (2:19)
7. Elizabeth’s Dance (2:12)
8. Maria at Prayer (2:40)
9. Anger and Apparition (2:11)
10. A Place to Stay (2:12)
11. Israel (1:19)
12. Birth (2:56)
13. The Census (2:08)
14. Magi (1:39)
15. Premonition (1:44)
16. My Son (2:03)
17. Lost and Found (2:13)
18. Denial (2:26)
19. 39 Lashes (4:19)
20. The Cross (2:36)
21. Calvary (4:11)
22. He Will Live (1:21)
23. Memories (2:02)
24. End Titles – Maria’s Theme (1:42)

Featured Soloists:
Solo Piano – Huw Watkins
Ethnic Percussion – Paul Clarvis
Ethnic Vocalist – Tanja Tzarovska
Vocalist – Lucy Johnson
Ethnic Flutes – Tony Hinnegan
Oud – Stuart Hall
Shawm – Bill Lyons
Duduk – Dirk Campbell

Wake of Death
25. Reunited (2:27)

L’uomo che sognava con l’aquile
26. Titles (2:33)
27. To the Mountains (1:10)
28. Roberto Explores (1:10)
29. Rocco and Roberto (2:08)
30. At Home (1:15)
31. Roberto’s Theme (2:01)
32. Return (2:19)
33. To the Mayor (1:34)
34. Animals Away (1:51)
35. Money Rolling in (1:12)
36. Celebrations (1:50)

Bonus Track
37. Audio Commentary by Guy Farley (3:17)


Visit the Caldera Records website for more information about this score release;
and why not visit Guy Farley‘s website to find out more about him.

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