One of the most traditional soundtracks for a Wes Anderson film, Grand Budapest Hotel's music sidesteps pop songs in favor of pieces that highlight the story's setting. Befitting a caper set at a Central European hotel in the '30s, Alexandre Desplat's score and performances by ensembles including the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra create a lavish, Old World feel. Budapest's orchestral pieces, which include “Concerto for Lute and Plucked Strings I. Moderato” and “The Linden Tree” are particularly charming, setting a genteel mood echoed by the traditional arrangement of “Moonshine.” Meanwhile,Desplat's score feels akin to his twinkly, mischievous music for Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was a caper of another sort. Indeed, this might be one of the twinkliest scores to an Anderson film, which is saying something. However, Desplat gives these sparkles nuance and depth, creating an entire vocabulary from them that spans the dreamy “Mr. Moustafa,” “Night Train to Nebelsbad”'s jazzy insistence, the lively wit of “The Society of the Crossed Keys,” and the oddly comforting “The War (Zero's Theme).” Most excitingly, the high-stakes nature of a heist film like this one allows Desplat to inject more drama and suspense into Anderson's ultra-stylish world, and at times his pieces echo iconic scores such as Dr. Zhivago and The Third Man. The winding melody that is one of the score's major motifs takes on a sinister cast on “The Family Desgoffe und Taxis” and “
J.G. Jopling, Private Inquiry Agent,” while “The Lutz Police Militia” and “Last Will and Testament” add some menace – however stylized – to the proceedings. As always, the collaboration between Anderson, Desplat, and music supervisor Randall Poster sets the mood perfectly, whether that mood is innocence, mischief, mystery, or beauty.
Review by Heather Phares