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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Debbie WISEMAN (b.1963)
Piano Stories
Track-listing at end of review
Debbie Wiseman (piano)
rec. 24 Mar 2011 Air Studios, London. DDD
WARNER CLASSICS 2564671888 [79:28]

Experience Classicsonline

As the composer tells us, this is her “collection of themes written for film and television … starting in 1990 when I composed the theme for The Upper Hand and ending in 2011 with … The Promise. She recounts that “this album is the most personal of all [those] I’ve released as it’s the music … as it first appears in my mind – before all the orchestration starts taking shape. It’s in its purest form, just on piano, as I would have first played it before deciding on the other instrumentation. I’ve always believed that if a melody can work played simply on piano, and can be memorable and inviting without all the orchestration and bells and whistles of a full symphony orchestra, then that’s the best starting point for a score.”
We start with a plangent carillon over a bell pulse in Isolation. This is sad and lissom music. Much the same applies to Joe and Diana with its melodious sweetness and sense of comfort and full hearts. Portal to the Past again features that chiming. It’s to become one of Wiseman’s hallmarks - a pulse and a theme. You hear it again tolling and sorrowing in Occupation from The Promise. The rosy Mozartean nostalgia of Thorn to the Heart prefaces The High Walled Garden with its Grand Guignol threat and towering melodrama. Oscar – from the film Wilde has a Chopin-like complexity and a slippery mood. Stephen Fry played Wilde in the film. The whole Wiseman score is on Warner 2564 68765-8. We return to him for the engaging Stephen Fry in America. The track is called Travels with Uncle Sam and has a perpetual pulse with again a Chopin-like melody. Despite the setting, Fields of Hope (theme from BBCTV’s Land Girls) taps into Victorian sentimentality.
Portal to the Past from Tom’s Midnight Garden was turned into a song by Don Black. Ray of Sunshine is from Children's Hospital. Its slow character is rather like the start of Conti’s magnificent Cagney and Lacey music.
Journey of a Lifetime is the music for Joanna Lumley’s Nile TV film. It’s slowly pulsed yet with subtle diversions here and darkly thoughtful asides there. It mixes a sense of loss with high romance. The music Wiseman wrote for The Andrew Marr Show has apt vitality and a time-bound pressurised urgency. Man of Law – from the Judge John Deed vehicle for Martin Shaw – is a thoughtful piece. It adroitly captures and establishes the mood of the man: deep and dreamy in judgement. This is followed by the slow trilling and pacing Peacekeeper from Warriors. The classical cut-glass and glimmer of chandeliers arches over the sentimental The Honeymoon's Over from Tom and Viv. Echoes of Carmilla picks up on the supernatural. The music is quiet and icily resonant. The Fall of the Last Barrier - from Flood suggests slow-motion images – all distanced sepia melancholy. The crystalline romance of Christina's Minuet from Haunted is again Chopin-like in its melody..
Silver Dream is not associated with any film. Like The Quiet Room it seems an evocation of slow-motion cascades and stilly pools - half Debussy, half lighter fare. Both were written as companions in an album of Einaudi and Nyman. The Mists of Edbrook from The Haunted undulates in pastures of sentimentality. Again we are in the same style vicinity as Nyman’s The Piano and Einaudi’s l'Onde.
This very generous collection is played by the music's maker so we know we are hearing it as the composer intended.
The scene-setting notes are by producer Michael Beck.
Gentle, touching, unassuming and companionable music played by the composer.
Rob Barnett

1. Isolation - Theme from The Hide [6:20]
2. Portal to the Past - Theme from Tom's Midnight Garden [3:32]
3. Thorn to the Heart - Theme from The Nightingale and The Rose [4:57]
4. High Walled Garden - Theme from The Selfish Giant [3:33]
5. Oscar - Theme from Wilde [4:25]
6. Silver Stream [3:28]
7. Fields of Hope - Theme from Land Girls [2:54]
8. Joe & Diana - Theme from The Upper Hand [3:05]
9. Ray of Sunshine - Theme from Children's Hospital [3:04]
10. Succession - Theme from The Throne [3:30]
11. Mists of Edbrook - Theme from Haunted [3:15]
12. Journey of a Lifetime - Theme from Joanna Lumley's Nile [2:30]
13. Travels With Uncle Sam - Theme from Stephen Fry in America [3:11]
14. Affairs Current - Theme from The Andrew Marr Show [2:05]
15. Man of Law - Theme from Judge John Deed [3:05]
16. Peacekeeper - Theme from Warriors [3:58]
17. Occupation - Theme from The Promise [3:46]
18. The Quiet Room [3:17]
19. The Honeymoon's Over - Theme from Tom and Viv [4:39]
20. Echoes of Carmilla - Theme from Lesbian Vampire Killers [3:21]
21. Fall of the Last Barrier - Theme from Flood [3:48]
22. Christina's Minuet - Theme from Haunted [3:37]












































































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