A little bit of everything can be found on this soundtrack to German director Wim Wenders's 1987 film: theme music, songs from the film, and even some dialogue. It's an eclectic mix, but it hangs together well, instantly evoking the moody, somber texture of Wenders's remarkable story of an angel's desire to once again become flesh and blood. Jürgen Knieper's solemn, meditative string compositions dominate the first half of the disc, interspersed with actor Bruno Ganz's reading of the Peter Handke poem "Lied Vom Kindsein (Song of Childhood)"; it's a dramatic effect that works here almost as well as it does onscreen over sweeping panoramas of a still-divided Berlin. And even if you haven't seen the film, several songs featured prominently in it make this soundtrack an essential listen–namely, Nick Cave's relentlessly spooky "The Carny" and Crime and the City Solution's brilliantly droopy "Six Bells Chime".
The 1981 Jean-Jacques Beineix film Diva is a dizzying cornucopia of delights, with a strong sense of urban cool and a cast of characters whose alternating detachments and obsessions hint at the legacy of pain and loneliness that helped form them. Its score, composed by Vladimir Cosma, is inseparable from the film, which, after all, is about music itself, and the ways that it links to desire and longing. From the beautiful arias of Wilhemina Wiggins Fernandez (who plays an opera singer in the film) to the eerie, achingly beautiful instrumental pieces composed by Cosma to set the mood for images of rain-slicked streets, Taiwanese music pirates, teenaged Vietnamese thieves, jaded middle-aged art sages, motorbikes and car chases, the score for Diva remains one of Cosma's masterpieces, a perfect companion to a film that became an international underground hit.
Widely considered the creative apex of television scoring, Basil Poledouris' sweeping Lonesome Dove remains the most compelling and effective orchestral music ever written for the small screen – it's also the best Western score to appear in any medium in the last quarter century, with an eloquence and slap-leather authenticity all its own. Poledouris' beautifully poignant score captures the fading grandeur of the American West in vivid detail – while its panoramic arrangements evoke the wide-open spaces of a land not yet overrun by highways, skyscrapers, and strip malls, Poledouris is most effective when exploring the rugged yet tender character of the men and women who made the frontier their own. Sonic Images' soundtrack contains roughly one-third of Poledouris' complete four-and-a-half-hour score – perhaps someday a box set will assemble Lonesome Dove's music in full, but for now this highlight reel does the trick.