April 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Music composed by Stephen Warbeck
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VSD-6528)
Running Time: 54:00
Crotchet   Amazon UK  


Since his great success with the score for Shakespeare in Love, Stephen Warbeck has struggled to really establish himself at the forefront of film music composers. And to be truthful I have to say that I'm not really surprised. There is a slightly generic, overtly melodramatic quality to much of his music (Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Charlotte Gray etc.) that I personally find rather off-putting. If I say that Warbeck seems to lack a real individual voice that may seem a little harsh, but all too often when listening to his work I find myself feeling either a sense of deja-vu or at worst, mild tedium. Perhaps in the case of this admittedly accomplished score familiarity is understandable, as all of the recognisable, authentic chanting and rhythmic touches that you would expect in a story revolving around native American Indians are in evidence. But this does not change the fact that despite occasional moments of dramatic intensity ('High Horse Captures the Ponies') there are many cues that sound either hackneyed such as 'Plea for Brother' and 'Father's Ghost' or just plain bland like 'Tehan' and 'Daughter Climbs the Mountain'. There are also a number of strum along acoustic guitar pieces ('Riding to the Rainbow' etc.) and various vocal performances ('She Crosses the Water', 'Straight Round Dance Song' etc.) but none of these transcend their musical genre and do little to fire the imagination.

Stephen Warbeck continues to sit squarely in the middle ground of film music composition. He is neither innovative or distinctive enough to stand out from among the crowd, allowing for the fact that he is a skilled, proficient composer. While I have no doubt Warbeck will have his admirers I find him too staid and predictable for my taste and Dreamkeeper continues that trend.

Mark Hockley

**(*) 21/2

Gary Dalkin adds: While this particular score did little for me on disc, for anyone who considers Warbeck a bland or undistinguished composer I suggest a listen to his wild, and wildly innovative score for Quills (2001).

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