Benjamin Wallfisch and 'Summer in February'

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
January 14, 2014
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Summer in February, directed by Christopher Menaul and starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Dominic Cooper (The Devil's Double) and Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty), is scheduled for a U.S. theatrical release this Friday, Jan. 17. The film's soundtrack is composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (Hours, The Thirteenth Tale, Desert Dancer) and features pianist Yuja Wang as soloist. The soundtrack was released in the U.S. today by Deutsche Grammophon.

The music Wallfisch wrote for Summer in February is pastoral and lovely, meant to reflect the tale of unrequited love it accompanies, as well as the rugged beauty of Cornwall.

It's beautifully sad, also. Wallfisch does an amazing job drawing out his harmonic resolutions. As a listener, this translates into a yearning for resolution.

Based on the novel Summer in February by Jonathan Smith, the film tells the true story of a trio of artists from the Newlyn School, a group of artists living in Cornwall in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Wallfisch chose to use piano in the score.

"It's a very intimate sound, and it has an enormous range. So you can do something very small and intimate, right up to portraying The Storm at the very end where you have these tumultuous arpeggios alongside the full orchestra."

Wallfisch asked one of the best young concert pianists to play on the score: Yuja Wang. The last track on the soundtrack album features Wang playing a solo suite of themes from the movie.

Watch a video of Benjamin Wallfisch describing the process of writing and recording music for the film:

Wallfisch is plenty busy writing music for the concert hall as well, having just finished a project with the London Philharmonic (based on Roald Dahl's Dirty Beasts) and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

As much as I enjoyed speaking with Wallfisch about the score and his other musical endeavors, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with him about his musical family. His father is cellist Raphael Wallfisch and his mother is Baroque violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch, both heard regularly on Classical MPR.

Additionally, his grandfather, Peter, was a concert pianist. His grandmother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, co-founded the English Chamber Orchestra, and is the last known surviving member of the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz.

Wallfisch says that he, his brother and sister all instinctively chose music careers.

"We were never pushed to follow in their footsteps," Wallfisch says.

Summer in February trailer:

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