Anne Frank’s Holocaust (Mark Leggett)
ANNE FRANK’S HOLOCAUST
Mark Leggett, 2015, Earthsonix Records
10 tracks, 15:26
Mark Leggett penned a short and beautiful score for the National Geographic Channel’s documentary.
Review by Pete Simons
What is it?
With insight from Anne’s surviving friends, this compelling documentary “Anne Frank’s Holocaust” details Anne and her family’s experiences after being captured and continues through the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Utilizing the chilling perspective of the Nazi captors, viewers gain critical insight into the concentration camp system. “Anne Frank’s Holocaust” originally aired on National Geographic Channel earlier this year.
Composer Mark Leggett picked up the guitar at an early age and taught himself the styles of the places he lived. An Air Force kid, constantly relocating, Leggett would check out the local music scene of each new city, learning swampy R&B in Arkansas, jazz/blues in Kansas City, grungy-rock in Washington State, and even learning the blend of ethnic styles in Guam and The Asia-Pacific territories. After moving to Los Angeles in the early 80s, Leggett was signed as a songwriter by Warner Chappell and would team with developing and established artists to write songs, most notably with Kylie Minogue. As a guitarist, his work can be heard on the Eminem song “Toy Soldiers”, also a #1 hit for the singer Martika. Some musician friends asked Leggett to work with them on a Fox show – which led to Leggett’s first TV mini-series “Great Dives”. He would go on to be Emmy-nominated for “The Pretender” and “Conquistador: A Day In Their Lives”.
What does it sound like?
“We did not want to overpower Anne Frank’s story with too many dense dark textures, which can be a tendency with WWII subject matter,” Leggett described. “We shied away from reflecting the horror musically and let the imagery speak for itself. I began by scoring the scenes depicting Anne Frank’s childhood and the memories of her surviving childhood friends. These initial melodies became the source material for the developing score.“
The score is bookended by “The Simplest Things” (and its reprise, which is thankfully differently arranged). It offers a somewhat playful motif for piano (which seems to have a bit of a TV ‘hook’ to it) offset against an elegiac theme for cello. During the reprise, the piano is dropped in favour of warm string chords. It’s a simple and very pretty melody.
“Anne Frank’s Holocaust” is, of course, a sombre work even with the composer deliberately avoiding to musically reflect the horrors of war. Strings, with an emphasis on cello, and piano dominate the score. “What Was Left Behind” is a particularly dramatic rendition of the main theme for strings, cello and gentle synth pads.
Soft chimes and harp briefly add a sense of innocence to “Almost Innocence”, though the dark strings are never far away. A brief appearance of brass adds gravitas. Various effects on the strings add terror to “Loss Of Self”, again without overdoing it – just enough to create an uneasy mood. The soft choir towards the end is a nice touch.
“The musical goal for Anne Frank’s Holocaust was to maintain a sense of innocence and loss, reminding us of what could have been,” said Leggett. “The director/producer and I discussed using simple themes and supporting them with string orchestra while keeping a minimalist approach.”
Is it any good?
Mark Leggett’s “Anne Frank’s Holocaust” is a heart-felt little score. At a mere 15 minutes, it makes for a very short album, but it’s really rather beautiful. The music is orchestrated by Peter Bateman and performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. The melodies are simple and the orchestrations are sparse and yet there is a real ‘weight’ to the music, courtesy mostly of the solo cello. A fine score for a difficult subject.
01. The Simplest Things (1.41)
02. Tragic Reunion (1.14)
03. What Was Left Behind (1.45)
04. What Was Lost (1.28)
05. Almost Innocence (1.16)
06. Lamenting (1.58)
07. Collaborators (1.31)
08. Past Present (1.05)
09. Loss Of Self (2.12)
10. The Simplest Things Reprise (1.16)
Digitally and on CD from August 14, 2015.
Learn more about Mark Leggett via his website.