9 out of 10
It’s complicated for any lover of Art and Music not to approach in an almost abrupt way the artistic career of the Irish composer, doubtlessly one of (unknown) geniuses of Art in its full dimension. Very close to the nuances of absolute orchestral minimalism and maker of drastical feelings, Cassidy maintains in his whole work a study and an intellectual meditation enviable by any artist and within the reach of few of them. Nevertheless, tough to listen to and understand.
Remembered (or intuited) by many thanks to his magnificent aria for ‘Hannibal’ soundtrack, ‘Vide cor Meum’, (although with masterworks and exuberant collaborations with the best voice of present scene, Lisa Gerrard, on his back), Cassidy offers in ‘Calvary’ a transcendental and thought-out score, absolute reflection of Father James Lavelle’s state of mind and vital disquietude, maintained in all its extension by constant, simple and melodic notes. A few minutes after the story is started, we will understand its form (regardless of the meaning): the composer couldn’t make a complex structure when it refers itself to the life of a man between rustic rooms, speeches on kindness and right intentions. Equally being the supporting point of past memories and melancholy for those beloved who are not present anymore.
John Michael McDonagh, the director, starts increasingly linking up a story that, somewhat disjointed in the beginning, makes the viewer’s attention focus on the intellectual scope smartly. So many characters, visits and preachings from the priest lead us, with scattered small fragments of the score, to think only of the priest, who lives sad because of a tragical event from the past, that later on, when all the stories converge (in the town’s bar), we can understand. The use, during the first part of the film, of typical Irish Folk songs in mundane situations and the use of the original score in the most substantial moments, show us a fundamental basis in the film: the vital weariness and the reluctance for existence on one side, and the vulgarity that life offers on the other side, when both sides come together. Cassidy shows up with the voice (as an important and metaphysical soloist instrument), making clear the path his work is going to take (‘Memories fade’). It’s the first thing we listen. Gently, the songs chosen by the director will be inserted along with the mentioned small excerpts of the themes composed by Cassidy. The artist’s ability is huge, adopting the form of a musical quietude and temperance not very often listened before, even in the two highest sequences of the story. The first one takes place at the midtime of the incidents, with Father Lavelle assisting a mortally wounded man and comforting his wife at the same time. It’s then that the second ‘Calvary’ theme, dramatical, archetype of Beauty, shows up in a powerful way and for the first time. Once achieved his presentation in the film, Cassidy (with the vital and mundane stories of the characters of the town already knotted) developes his maximum presence and ability in the whole. Patiently, without showing up, the other important moment awaits, referred now to the earthly field (the priest relapses again in alcohol, as one of the non-original songs for the films is listened) and its appearance in the end is absolute.
Calvary’s ending couldn’t be explained in a few words. What the composer reaches to induce in that moment, in the last sequence, is so powerful that a dramatic event gets to be treated through loveliness without any kind of fissure or danger (‘Say your prayers’).
The risk is maximum: the brilliant artist starts the moment with a couple of held high notes and the bass sounds announcing the voice coming. Terrible, truthful, tragical, sublime... No matter which position you have maintained during the film: sadness, tenderness, pain... they will be shaken out of you by listening a single note. In the opinion of who writes this lines, one of the most overwhelmingly controlled by music story-endings. Absolute beauty. Ethereal lyricism.
In summary, we are before an exceptional work, a sacral minimalism that, just because it is, is not often recognised as it deserves, something that grants it an even bigger appeal. Doubtlessly one of the best compositions in the last years and an artist and work that any lover of minority music should listen to.
LISTEN TO IT IF...: you like extremely calm music. It’s not a relaxing score or something similar. Get ready to go through a deep level of musical thought.
DON’T LISTEN TO IT IF...: you hate moments of superior artistic study.
END TITLES RECOMMENDATION: essential modern work.
OTHER RECOMMENDED WORKS FROM THE COMPOSER: ‘Hannibal’, ‘Immortal memory’.
MARK: 9 out of 10
END TITLES, DECEMBER 2015.