Original film soundtrack albums with broad-based appeal are the exception rather than the rule. Mostly they serve as musical aide-memoires for a loved movie with, if you're lucky, the added bonus of a few tracks that work independently. This even applies to acknowledged masters of the art like Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer or John Williams.
It is perhaps fortuitous therefore that The Irony Of Fate is more likely to be considered as an exotically mysterious curiosity than judged as a official soundtrack.
Although Mikael Tariverdiev is apparently a household name in his native Russia, I doubt that many western listeners will have heard of him and still less will have seen the movie this music was composed for.
Up to his passing in 1996, he scored over 130 movies as well as writing the music for TV series, ballets and operas. The Irony of Fate is the first in an ambitious project by Earth Recordings to reissue a series of albums documenting his prolific output.
The soundtrack consists of instrumental interludes (acoustic and orchestral), a dialogue extract, slow waltzes and several sorrowful ballads for a 1975 movie which was directed by Eldar Ryazanov.
The film is described as a subtly subversive comedy but the overriding melancholic atmosphere means that the music seems more suited to a romantic tragedy.
The acoustic guitar on Hope, for instance, seems about to lead into Jacque Brel's If You Go Away at any point. Aria For A Moscow Guest is one the few tracks that sounds truly light-hearted in mood.
The cover image of Tariverdiev has a passing resemblance to Leonard Cohen as does the voice of Sergey Nikitin on three of the songs, most memorably on the beautifully wistful I Asked The Ash Tree a song that transcends language barriers.
But it is the seductively alluring voice of Alla Pugatcheva that shines the brightest in the tracks On Tikhoretskaya,I Like and I Asked The Mirror.
These are the highlights of an album that certainly stands alone in musical terms and also makes you curious to hear in them in their original context.