October 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED October 2002


Compilation: Debbie WISEMAN

Film and Television Music Something Here: Wilde West; Hans Christian Anderson; Before You Go; Tom & Viv; Judge John Deed; Warriors; My Uncle Silas; Simon: An English Legionnaire; Tom's Midnight Garden; Haunted; Othello; Wilde; The Ugly Duckling.  
  The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Debbie Wiseman
  SILVA SCREEN SILKD 6035   [71:19]


As Debbie Wiseman notes in her introduction to her latest album, the title comes from the phrase often uttered by directors during spotting sessions when they decide where they think they might want some music. Here on this newly recorded anthology are a dozen "something here's", plus a 17 minute original work, The Ugly Duckling, expanding upon themes from the new film My Life As A Fairytale: Hans Christian Anderson.

Music from this film actually comprises a five minute suite as the second cue on Something Here. This is richly orchestrated, highly melodic fairytale music, as eloquent and charming as anything Wiseman has previously written. It calls to mind the scoring on the composer's Stories of Oscar Wilde, and not only does the current album begin with Wiseman's opening music - a witty Western pastiche - from the film Wilde - but it ends with the aforementioned setting of The Ugly Duckling, very much continuing in the vein of The Nightingale and the Rose and The Selfish Giant from her Stories album. Of course this sort of thing must be traced back to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, but Wiseman makes the form all her own with some deliciously well crafted writing sure to delight the young at heart. Nigel Havers makes an excellent narrator, being just as accomplished as Stephen Fry and Vanessa Redgrave on the previous disc.

Much of the music here is very recent. The suite from Before You Go (2002) begins as a perfectly honed pastiche of an up-tempo passage from a Mozart piano concerto, then develops a more modern lyric theme for loss and mourning. Most appropriately sequenced to follow is a grave and dark hued suite from Tom and Viv (1994), while a suite from Judge John Deed (2001) combines a march with a clarinet-led love theme. For those who are familiar with the original version of the composer's theme from the superb BBC drama Warriors, the new version here may initially come as a shock. Gone is the keening wordless vocal, gone is the stark percussion, in comes the much more lush sound of the Royal Philharmonic strings, the melody taken alternately by solo violin and woodwind. The result is a more gentle reinterpretation of one of Wiseman's finest inspirations. It is still highly moving, if a little less distinctive, and certainly less spine-tingling.

My Uncle Silias (2002) offers a suite featuring a lovely waltz and more lovely woodwind writing again in similar vein to the composer's recent fairytale pieces. Simon: An English Legionnaire (2002) follows the true story of an Englishman in the French Foreign Legion in Algeria in 1962, the music here reflecting more of the aristocratic sensibility of Simon himself than the North African setting. While the film music proper part of the disc ends with a more serious suite from Wilde than the playful introductory music, there is also a finely crafted seven minute suite from Haunted (1995), a selection from the most recent version of Tom's Midnight Garden (1999), and a powerful condensation of the dramatic score for last years' ITV updating of Othello.

A well rounded and balanced anthology, the only problem is that it leaves one wanting to hear more of the individual scores. Perhaps if enough people buy this album there will be a volume two. Meanwhile this is a wonderful disc, recorded with fine sound, from one of our finest composers. The RPO play as if born to the music.

Gary S. Dalkin


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