Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light is not a soundtrack to The Passion of Joan of Arc, but an independent work. It has its own libretto that only occasionally overlaps with Dreyer’s movie. The two proceeded along parallel but independent tracks last Sunday night.
At first there was a disconnect--at least for me. In the long opening trial scene—Dreyer’s monumental fresco of faces—the expressions vary from awe to irritation, absorption to boredom, and the mood shifts in a flash from solemnity to satire; Einhorn’s music was beautiful but too smooth. It flattened the complexity swirling on the screen
But the movie progresses—it’s one continuous accelerando—and the moods become more uniform, relentlessly so. By the scene where the sacraments are brought to Joan, the music and the movie were in perfect synch. From that point to the end Einhorn’s music framed and further focused the movie's intensity.The L.A. Master Chorale and the soloists sounded terrific. A tremendous performance considering the production renders them invisible.
Dreyer presents no evidence of sanctity or grace. He doesn’t even permit Joan to demonstrate her acknowledged charisma and decisiveness. What we see is a woman being harassed by men who consider themselves her superior. A timeless story, unfortunately.