The most infamous musical figure of the season, Lydia Tár, has now dropped her new album. More specifically, a concept album for Todd Field’s first film in sixteen years, TÁR, is now out, featuring music from and inspired by it––including works by Mahler, Elgar, Guðnadóttir and more, as well as Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score and contributions from Cate Blanchett herself as she conducts a rehearsal of Mahler’s 5th symphony. While the vinyl version will come this January (and one can pre-order here), the one-hour, 20-track digital version has now arrived.
As noted in the press release, the concept album complements the film by inviting listeners to experience what Field refers to as “the messiness” of the work involved in preparing classical music for performance, via a combination of audio glimpses from real-life recording sessions, sequences from fictional rehearsals, music listened to by the film’s characters, and completed versions of the music on which we see Lydia working.
Blanchett describes her collaboration with the Dresdner Philharmonie and its concertmaster Wolfgang Hentrich as “a great, and life-changing, privilege.” “How truly blessed I am,” adds Blanchett, “to have my name appear anywhere near this ridiculously talented assembly of musicians.” Blanchett also performs a Prelude from Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier as part of one of Tár’s teaching sessions.
Also on the soundtrack is the jazz standard Here’s That Rainy Day (Burke/Van Heusen)—performed by the New Trombone Collective with soloist Al Kay, conducted by Martijn Sohler—and shaman Elisa Vargas Fernández’s icaro CuraMente, whose purpose is to illustrate Tár’s history in Shipibo-Konibo ethnomusicological fieldwork.
Field also directed a video featuring Guðnadóttir’s cello performance of Mortar, which will be released on November 11. “The idea was born from conversations with Cate Blanchett,” explains the director. “This piece of film was conceived as an in-between place for the main character to fall into herself. A place where the natural laws of her waking state do not apply. The shooting process involved all cast members, and was photographed at the end of each day during principal photography in Berlin and South East Asia in 2021. In September 2022 Hildur and I met again in Berlin where she stepped back into this place and bound herself to the other players.”
Update: Watch the video for Mortar below.
“It’s been a real privilege to get to do a deep dive into the multifaceted process of making music with the wonderful artists that manned all the TÁR posts,” Guðnadóttir said. “And to get to release the music in a parallel world that is our reality, where we hear music they are writing and rehearsing in the film.”
Listen below, along with two chats from the 60th New York Film Festival.