Click here to return to the main site.

Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

MovieScore Media PortfolioThe Film Music of Pessi Levanto


Composer: Pessi Levanto
Performed by: Bratislava Symphony Orchestra
Label: MovieScore Media
Release Date: 09 July 2021

Finnish composer Pessi Levanto is the first film composer to be featured in MovieScore Media’s new Portfolio project. The collection features eight original film scores, featuring nearly 300 minutes of orchestral music composed by Levanto. The collection ranges from the composer’s early 2008 scores for Tears of April and The Novelist to the 2017 score for Unexpected Journey...

Stop! Don't bother reading any further. My waxing lyrical about this album is not going to change the fact that you need it in your life. If you're a lover of beautiful scores then just know that this will knock you off your feet. Go and buy it... You're wasting value time reading my waffle.

Still here? Okay, well I am totally in love with each and every score in this collection. I was constantly reminded of some of my favourite composers while listening to this. There's the spirit of John Williams running throughout, but there's also a touch of James Horner, Alan Silvestri and Jerry Goldsmith. Now while I love all of those guys work it's rare for me to totally rave about every single track on just one of their scores... What Levanto delivers here, uniformly across 8 films / 130 tracks / 4 hr, 56 min, 11 sec is nothing short of miraculous. Every single track gripped me from start to finish - and I'm not exaggerating.

I reviewed his scores for the Finnish mystery drama series Piece of My Heart, and Swingers and while they were okay, they certainly weren't outstanding. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Film Music of Pessi Levanto was perfect from beginning to end - very similar to his work on Oma Maa.

MovieScore Media Portfolio: The Film Music of Pessi Levanto collects together the following scores: The Novelist (2008), Tears of April (2008), Backwood Philosopher (2009), Body Fat Index of Love (2012), Rolli and the Golden Key (2013), Armi Alive! (2015), The Midwife (2015) and Unexpected Journey (2017).

I was going to run through every soundtrack and give each one a mark out of 10... and then I thought: "What's the point." There's only so many times you can write "beautifully melancholic", "emotionally uplifting" or "moving and exhilarating". And these are terms that can be applied to each of these scores.

When I'm reviewing I play an album through a couple of times, put it to one side for a few days and then play again on and off for a week. I've been playing this collection in every spare moment that I have. I also usually save any really beautiful tracks from a review album into a playlist. I dumped that tradition with this release and instead just added all of the tracks into a new playlist.

Just as a taster, here's some quick thoughts on each album:

The Novelist, is probably the heart of the album, with so many touching, wonderful themes.

Tears of April is also packed full of sweet pieces, similar in style to The Novelist.

Backwood Philosopher shakes things up a little. It has a few elements of horror, as well as quite distinct moments that reminded my of Williams's scores for Jaws (mainly the Amity Island pieces) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Body Fat Index of Love is more quirky and full of "doing stuff" themes. It's probably the slight weak link here. It's still enjoyable, but more "fun" than the other emotional scores.

Rolli and the Golden Key opens beautifully and has some intricate themes. 'Frightening Noises' gives a nod and wink to Williams's Jaws. And there's a playfulness to tracks like 'Theft' that reminded me of the work of Danny Elfman.

Armi Alive! is a subtle, yet richly rewarding score. There's a lot of diversity between tracks with many different styles on display - which makes for an interesting listening experience.

The Midwife is a little more like a classical album. The themes slowly build and are interwoven throughout the score. It also reminded me of both David Mansfield's score for The Sicilian and Patrick Doyle's work on Carlito's Way. There's also a little of Danny Elfman's score for Batman Returns. There's a deep, brooding menace that permeates quite a few of the tracks. This is probably the most satisfying all rounder.

Unexpected Journey reminded me of the work of Jeff and Mychael Danna on Terry Gilliam movies Tideland and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It's subtle with a clarinet taking centre stage on quite a few of the tracks - something you don't hear that often.

Levanto's work here has been honed down to a fine art. This is storytelling, and emotionally wrangling the listener, at its purest form. The guy is a genius; a master of his craft and I'll be seeking out more of his back catalogue.

MovieScore Media, we salute you for bringing us such an incredible collection of scores together under one roof. I've been reviewing soundtracks for over 20 years and it's not often I come across a release as uniformly impressive as The Film Music of Pessi Levanto.


Darren Rea