The Other Conquest soundtrack
By Conquest Director
Music, as a universal language, elevates a film to a unique dimension intimately related to the audience's emotional response. It is not a coincidence that the most memorable scenes in films tend to feature expressive, hypnotic, revealing music... or silence pregnant with the absence of music. In creating the soundtrack for The Other Conquest, we were fortunate enough to work with two exceptional Mexican composers - Samuel Zyman (symphonic music) and Jorge Reyes (ethnic music) - whose styles are quite different from one another, but who share the artistic qualities, refined sensibility and evocative power that make their music so memorable. Beyond merely shading or underscoring various dramatic situations or specific images, the music is able to tell the story on its own. As a point of departure, I first added music to the film by using existing works, which helped define the structure and dramatic intention of the score. For instance, the "final journeys" of Friar Diego and Topiltzin, at the beginning and end of the film respectively, are inspired by the first measures of J.S. Bach's Passion According to St John, to the extent that the camera movements in both scenes stem from the music. Then I asked Samuel Zyman to compose a contemporary classical version that became Passion According to Topiltzin, the central theme of the film, which marks the beginning of the Spaniards' attempt to convert Topiltzin spiritually. With the exception of Bach's Passions, Zyman and Reyes replaced the provisional works (much like the Aztec gods that were destroyed to make way for the new icons of Christianity), so that at times one feels the timeless spirits of Mozart, Chávez, Fauré, Penderecki, Bach himself and other composers underlying the original music. In the New World, imposing cathedrals were built from the stones of pyramids. More than illustrating the 16th century, the music of this film tries to express the cyclical nature of history by reflecting artistic quests common to civilizations that have undergone - and are still coming to terms with - processes of colonization, conquest, and attempted spiritual conversions. In the soundtrack as in the film itself, the premise was to represent two aesthetic languages and two contrasting ways of looking at the world, as is the case with the Spanish and Nahuatl languages, in such a way that both artistic voices would be able to surprise and move us profoundly through the universal language of music. To attain this, music supervisor Andrea Sanderson worked closely with both composers (who never shared the same physical space) to create the film's own musical language. As the story of The Other Conquest unfolds, the respective music of Zyman and Reyes merge to become a powerful hybrid that combines symphonic and ethnic elements, including beautiful solo and orchestral passages, sacred choruses, corporal rhythms, primeval vocalizations, original pre-Hispanic instruments (some of them, archaeological gems in themselves) and the discreet use of synthesizers. Thus, a new voice is born, one which is much more than the simple juxtaposition of both - which is precisely what happened with mestizaje and the birth of the Mexican nation. With characteristic mastery and interpretive beauty, Plácido Domingo adds the crowning touch by singing the aria "Mater Aeterna", which functions as a kind of coda to the film by celebrating the syncretic fusion of the Mother Goddess Tonantzin and the Virgin Mary into one of the principal symbols of Mexican identity: the indigenous Virgin of Guadalupe. For producer Alvaro Domingo and for myself as the writer-director of The Other Conquest, it has been an invaluable experience and a source of immense satisfaction to have undertaken the musical adventure contained in this compact disc, where the extraordinary talents of Plácido Domingo, Samuel Zyman, Jorge Reyes, Andrea Sanderson, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under the masterful direction of David Snell, have all joined together with a shared artistic goal: to take us on an unforgettable journey that rewards the listener both aesthetically and spiritually. I believe that the music of The Other Conquest represents that fragile, unknown bridge that Topiltzin and Friar Diego dared to cross, at the end of which there may be a ray of light that reveals that, in spite of everything, what unites us as humans is greater than what separates us. Salvador Carrasco
Writer/Director "The Other Conquest"
Hypnotic, A Beautiful Landscape Of Sound.
"The Other Conquest" is a hypnotic experience of emotion and sound, transporting us to another world, another moment in history. Fans of the movie will be exhilarated by the musical selections here, and yet the album can also stand on it's own as an impressive work that creates a captivating hybrid world of classical and indigenous music. Those disappointed by James Horner's standard, restrained work in "Apocalypto" will love the natural, feverish tribal sounds Jorge Reyes produces here with an impressive air of authenticity. Samuel Zyman's orchestral arrangements are lush and moving, capturing the main character's spiritual quest and conflict. One of the stand-outs here is the beautiful aria written by the film's director, Salvador Carrasco. Titled "Mater Aeterna," this gorgeous piece is performed by world famous tenor Placido Domingo, it is an atmospheric piece of music that sets an irresistible mood. "The Other Conquest" is both a fitting soundtrack accompaniment for the movie and a great world music/classical work. Those looking for something fresh and fulfilling should check this one out right away.