Bogdan Ota might one be known as the best musical export Romania has ever known. The composer is already due to be involved in such discussions for those who known Romanian music history, but Ota’s international exposure hasn’t been huge before now. With the release of Day of Wrath, Ota declares his intent to be more than just a musical footnote. Ota’s cinematic scope as a writer is matched only his willingness to surpass the current understanding of what should be.
Day of Wrath opens with “Black Friday”, which is written in the style of the opening scene music to a movie thriller. Distinct tension in the main theme is offset by some wonderfully lyric passages along the way. The mix of piano with full (electronic) orchestra creates impressive musical scenery. ”Mourning” is intriguing, written with a vibrant melody line that seems to imply more about healing than loss. The quiet beauty in this peace is stunning.
“Day of Wrath” marches forth with military precision. The sense of melancholy mixed with determination pours out through each and every note. ”The Story of My Life” has multiple musical personalities, but winds up with a martial feel, offering an ode to Beethoven on the way. “Glimpse of Happiness” is a deliciously dark waltz that explodes into wild symphonic abandon before coming back to its roots. ”Solitude” is a thing of beauty, built with the sort of soaring resolutions that drive the action in a motion picture. Ota gains a moment of musical alchemy here that is undeniable.
“Harald’s Dream” is like a waterfall of tension and resolution, waxing and waning from one to the other in unpredictable fashion. The result is an edge of the seat ride that is both lyric and driven. ”Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra” begins with a metronomic orchestra, waxing into lyric piano. The rest of the journey becomes more complicated as it becomes more martial. Ota makes a teaching moment out of “Reverie”, playing the piano as if it were an extension of himself. Likewise “A Dream Within A Dream”, a vibrant waltz for piano orchestra that is energetically lyric. It’s takes his bows with a change of pace in the form of “Sahara”. This begins with a regional sounding theme but transforms into a cinematic string-based arrangement.
Bogdan Ota is a composer in rarified air. He moves with a musical deftness and understanding of compositional structure that is not often found. Soaring and emotive themes lay down beside quiet passages as if all were of the same water and molded together. Day of Wrath makes one thing very clear: Any discussion about a natural successor to John Williams is incomplete without considering the name of Bogdan Ota.
Review by: Wildy Haskell
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)