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December 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Nanny McPhee  
Music composed by Patrick Doyle
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VS D6690)
Running Time: 53:33
Amazon UK   Amazon US

Patrick Doyle uses the London Symphony Orchestra and women’s wordless chorus to create a children’s world of magic and enchantment for his Nanny McPhee score. Doyle’s big orchestral palette is used most colourfully, wittily and dramatically, his musical characterisations full of charm and imagination.

The tone is set immediately, in the bizarrely titled opening track, ‘They’ve eaten the baby’, with a comic duet for contra-bassoon and harpsichord aping the 18th century classical style before chaos breaks out, the large orchestra with the tuba leading crazy chase music. Here, and so often in this score, it is as though Patrick Doyle has ventured into Danny Elfman-land while ‘A clockwork mouse’ is all Tom and Jerry. ‘Secret Toast and Jam’ on the other hand, is comfy Edwardian, nostalgic and wistful, so too is ‘The Pink Chair’.  ‘I did Knock’ ushers in enchantment, excitement and magic - and danger. ‘Goodnight Children’ begins as a soothing lullaby before sleep,  Doyle then suggesting the beginnings of some quite bizarre adventures  ‘Measle Medicine’, fit only for goblins, tastes really horrid while ‘Soup du Jour’ with funny trombone and pizzicato figures goes down very well. ‘I Smell Damp’ has sardonic trombone figures and they get to strut comically through ‘Barnyard Fashion.’ Strings and woods dance in folk style for the ‘Lord of the Donkeys’.  Strongly rhythmic music canters along merrily for ‘The Girl in the Carriage’ who is revealed dreamily and romantically as fair and beautiful. ‘The Lady in Blue’ and the enchanting ‘Kites in the Sky’ continue the dreamy mood as, in the case of the latter, the music soars with the kites  ‘The Room at the Top of the Stairs’ has a magic, the music sprinkled with little bells, excitedly swirling high strings and women’s wordless chorus expressing wonder. ‘Toad in the Teapot’ takes us back to the comic with bassoon and oboe, trombone and tuba adding grotesque fun.  ‘Our Last Chance’ introduces pathos voiced by the strings. ‘Bees and Cakes’ buzzes and rushes frenetically with angry accordion and brass jabs.

‘Snow in August’, the most substantial track, is also the most attractive, quite entrancing and magical.

The comfy ‘Mrs Brown’s Lullaby’ is sung by Mae Mckenna.

Although there is nothing very original about Doyle’s music for Nanny McPhee it is nevertheless full of wit and charm.

Ian Lace


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