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July 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /July01/



The Lion in Winter  
  The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus

Lion in Winter

As my review copy arrived minus a track listing I can’t really talk about individual cues, but when the music is this good that doesn’t really matter very much. What is important is that John Barry’s wonderful, Oscar winning score has been brought to vivid life in this new digital recording under the direction of Nic Raine and performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus.

One of the most impressive things (and there are quite a few) about Barry’s work here is how adventurous it is. The historical story of Henry II’s political and emotion battles (not least with his wife!) would not on the face of it appear to provide the musical canvas for something this extraordinarily expansive and bold. But John Barry scores it with such verve and passion that it becomes a truly grand pageant of lofty drama and emotional resonance. Certainly his extensive choral writing is the key element that gives the music its real power and majesty, but every track is framed with that distinctive combination of heart and edge that is so much a part of this composer’s style. It seems to me that John Barry writes from the soul and at his best taps into both the darkness and the light that lives there, conjuring it forth to move us, to stir us, to communicate with us on some primal level. At least this is how he speaks to me.

Add to this an extended bonus suite from Barry’s other historical masterpiece Mary Queen of Scots and you have a CD of enormous appeal and quality. This is John Barry at the height of his wondrous, expressive powers. Get it now.

Mark Hockley


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