Republic -The Revolution- Original Soundtrack
Republic -The Revolution- Original Soundtrack
August 27, 2003
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While Eidos Interactive’s soundtrack for Republic: The Revolution went under the radar for American audiences, BAFTA nominated it for a best soundtrack award back in 2003. Featuring music by composer James Hannigan and live performances by the Slovakia Radio Symphony Orchestra, Republic: The Revolution featured one of the first orchestral soundtracks released for a video game that I can say I truly enjoyed.
Hannigan utilizes a number of recurring themes that are expanded in various ways throughout the course of the game. The maturity exhibited in each of the compositions captures a brooding, ominous emotion associated with the darker aspects of Republic: The Revolution. But at the same time, it’s statements are elegant, poignant — often characterized by long string passages overlaid by a solo instrument or the lone soprano voice of Miranda Keys. The mix is well mastered compared to other game soundtracks of the day and the conductor skillfully guides this somewhat unheralded but virtuosic ensemble of players, creating a synergy of emotion and technically sound performances.
For instance, “March of the Old Guard” is a ballad alluding in many ways to old Soviet anthems, carried by a rather tender piccolo that is then doubled by the trumpets. The addition of a small choir, with its guttural performances, brings that extra impact. Coupled by a staccato double bass and swelling, stretto strings, the choir adds a nearly over the top level to Hannigan’s score. It is so pleasing to the ear that I find myself listening to the track at least twice, singing my best attempts at Russian in my equally best baritone (neither of which is very convincing). The actual National Anthem that ties these themes together in the album’s closing track is also spectacular.
Hannigan uses rich chord textures and swelling string passages throughout the orchestral performances. “A New Day Begins” uses these techniques as a perfect bed to exemplify the sonorous Miranda Keys and the skilled solo violinist Ralph Allin in their amazing, yet subtle performances. Similarly, in “Blood Brothers”, the soprano further establishes her role in the game, set again in a carefully crafted atmosphere of mystique (with the necessary reverb) and supplemented by another strong violin performance. This bed of chords we hear so often certainly distinguishes Hannigan from the usual game fare.
“Karasov’s Legacy: adds to the overall feel with the inclusion of a brass section — and in quite a brash, powerful sense. It is utilized again throughout the soundtrack for good measure, with a lot of punchy dynamics in the very dramatic “Journey to Berenzina”. Hannigan’s characterization of “Old Novistrana” has a grace and presence about it that falls somewhere between a lighter Giacchino passage and a Mozart Air; short though it may be, it is another gem and proof of the composer’s skillfulness.
As the soundtrack progresses, there is further elaboration on the themes presented by Hannigan. For example, another interpretation of the game’s main theme, “The Buskers of Ekaterine”: boasts a rather entertaining dance in cut time featuring accordion and the established fiddler Ralph Allin. He is accompanied by a small ensemble of folk musicians from the UK that adds a breath of fresh air and some interesting contrast to the orchestral interpretations. This Eastern European dance takes another turn in “Journey to Pugachev” as it is coupled by a clarinet in a slow klezmer-like piece. We hear it again echoed in the haunting “Pugachev by Night”.
While some tracks some may seem rather nondescript or meld with previous entries, they are as equally intricate and charming as the early parts of Republic: The Revolution‘s score. From very reflective pieces like the aptly titled “Remembering Ekaterine”, featuring a delicate piano solo, to grand orchestral works that capture the darker elements of Danny Elfman or James Horner, Hannigan rarely fails to capture my attention and is a perfect match for the world of the Republic.
Powerful and rewarding, the Republic: The Revolution soundtrack is something fans of game music should seek out. Tracks like “A New Day Begins” and “March of the Old Guard” characterize those moments in video games that are truly moving but rarely occurring. Hannigan, with the skillful ensemble and support of Eidos and Elixir Studios, accomplished something great. This soundtrack is a fine predecessor to his works on the Harry Potter and Command & Conquer franchises.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jay Semerad. Last modified on August 1, 2012.