The Painted Veil
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Alexandre Desplat's score for director John Curran's film adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel The Painted Veil, about a British couple who travel to China in the 1920s, is not specifically Oriental in tone. But it does have a sense of reserve and a contemplative feel much of the time. The dominant soloist is young Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang, although Vincent Segal's electric cello is also given generous solo space. Desplat provides a lovely "River Waltz," played both orchestrally and as a piano piece by Lang. "The Water Wheel" is a percussion-heavy cue with Desplat himself contributing. (He also plays flutes, piano, and keyboards himself on the soundtrack.) "Cholera," a cue coming toward the film's climax, has the repetitive rhythm of a Philip Glass piece, but that's as assertive as Desplat gets in a score that manages to maintain a mood simultaneously restrained and ominous.