Brideshead Revisited: The Television Scores of Geoffrey
SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 723
(Note this album was originally released in 1992 This
version has been remastered in HDCD and Dolby
Having composed the music for some of the most prestigious television productions
of the last twenty five years, Geoffrey Burgon here demonstrates his undeniable
grasp of what is required to capture the spirit of such literary classics.
His music for Brideshead Revisited in 1981 is acknowledged as a major
work and was hugely popular at the time (and indeed earned a gold disk for
its original UK sales). Much of whats on offer here has the same very
English modern classical feel with Burgon reworking several other scores
into suites to represent his output from the late seventies up to the early
In fact his Brideshead suite is subtitled Variations,
as all of the pieces are worked around his main theme, an elegant, almost
regal melody for strings and woodwind with a nice oboe solo holding it all
together. Julias Theme is also worth mentioning with its
understated, emotional resonance that seems to speak of sadness and disquiet.
The music for 1979s Testament of Youth opens with a kind
of dark march reflecting the on-set of war. Other cues like Intimations
of War are more melodic, but even this becomes militaristic and demanding
mid-way through. This sense of war time anxiety is nicely conveyed, even
during pieces that initially suggest a reprieve from the conflict.
Bleak House from 1985 features a slightly bitter-sweet main theme
with an effective solo cornet carrying the signature line. A number of other
pieces are very evocative of Victorian London where the Dickens story is
set, although at times the music does meander a little. Even so, Burgon is
a good enough composer to still make it all seem worthwhile. One particularly
appealing track is Dedlock Vs Boythorn with horn and trumpet
vying with each other in an up tempo semi-comic romp, almost like a parody
of the hunt.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (again from 1979) has a rather dour,
affecting opening theme that nicely sets the tone for John Le Carres
story of espionage and betrayal. The only other piece from the series featured,
Nunc Dimittis (Closing Music) was very popular when the series
was first broadcast (becoming a hit single no less). Here it has been adapted
for soprano Lesley Garret (it was originally written for boy treble).
Finally, various cues from C.S. Lewis classic The Chronicles
of Narnia (1988-1990) provide what are probably the best selections
on the CD, opening with Aslans Theme, a majestic, serious
minded piece. Other tracks like The Great Battle and The
Storm at Sea are fine dramatic action music with fanfares for both
horn and trumpet announcing the advent of struggle and combat. Elsewhere
Mr. Tumnus Tune for flute and strings is a subtle, sorrowful
melody which captures well the sense of reluctant betrayal that it signifies
in the story itself. Also of note is Aslan Sacrificed which quotes
from Bachs B Minor Mass and its as dark and brooding
as you might expect.
All in all, probably worth adding to your collection.