CD review: Tariverdiev Film Music

First published in the Guardian on 19 November, 2015

Mikael Tariverdiev composed music for the 1960s Soviet hit Goodbye, Boys! and hundreds more film and TV scores, but he’s hardly known beyond Russia and movie buffs — this lavish three-disc set is the first anthology ever released in the West. The music is impossibly wistful and full of pastiche (chanson, big band, Piazzolla) but something about it still gets under the skin. Seagulls and tinkly pianos segue to forlorn humming and shuffling rhythm sections. There are plenty of accordions and slow swing from drummers I picture clutching long-dead cigarettes between the teeth. A hazy waltz from The Long Day twangs like surf-rock Shostakovich. The Last Romantic pairs fistfuls of Rachmaninovian chords with a yearning saxophone elegy. Some tracks stand alone better than others without their visual counterparts, but it’s clear that Tariverdiev was a master conjurer of smoke-filled moods. My favourite is the despondent singer on Dolphins — think a Soviet Gainsbourg whose vowel sounds alone will convince you that Russian is the only language for singing about love.