The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth

The latest television blockbuster has hit the screens in the U.K. THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH is a sprawling tale that will be aired over a period of some six weeks so I am informed. Based on the novel by Ken Follett, the movie has an all-star cast and is essential viewing. The score composed by Trevor Morris is too of epic proportions. Right from the start the composer gets his musical hooks into the listener by providing a driving and fearsome sounding main title, which accompanies the shows vivid opening titles graphics. Brass and strings dominate the composition, which are supported by percussion in this short but unrelenting theme that sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow, both musically and on screen. The second cue on the disc THE WAR OF SUCCESSION is just as dramatic and also features strings enhanced by percussion and effective use of panpipe effect and solo voice. Morris came to the film music communities notice via his haunting and infectious scores for the Showtime television series THE TUDORS, what the composer seems to have achieved here with THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH is to take elements or at least some of the style he utilised within THE TUDORS and elevate it further with effective orchestration and imaginative writing.

The score is quite simply a powerhouse of a work. Also as with THE TUDORS some of the music does seem a little modern sounding in places, but this comment is not a negative one as the composer’s thoughts and style works marvellously. Stand out cues among the compact disc’s running time would be difficult to pin point as the entire score is rich and brimming with a sense of supremacy and fullness that can be likened to the works of Goldsmith, Poledouris and has the presence and stature of a score written by a true talent. The percussive elements employed within the score are truly outstanding and when these are combined with the dramatic and tense sounding strings they are unstoppable as in track number 10 PERCY INVADES PART 1, which to be honest could be mistaken for a main title in its own right, the second part of this cue track 11, PERCY INVADES PART 2, is an even more full on onslaught of musical creativity, the brass growling over the top of booming percussion enhanced and punctuated by shrieking pipes and underlined with driving strings. This is a commanding and exhilarating composition, which will please many a film music connoisseur.

There are also a handful of lighter compositions, for example track 21, JACK AND ALLANA MAKE LOVE, this is a brief but tender tone poem that begins with woodwind and guitar, the instruments interweave and compliment each other whilst being underlined by gracious and romantic sounding strings which at first act as an accompaniment to the proceedings but then take on the theme giving it a lush and haunting quality. As the CD progresses we are treated to more action cues, which are potent examples of film scoring, the composer utilising to great effect the growling and rasping brass, and fusing this with thundering and rhythmic percussion and forceful sounding strings. This is a soundtrack that every self-respecting collector of film music should own, and I am positive as soon as you hear it, you will be online buying more of this composers music.

John Mansell © 2010

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