The Chronicles of Narnia/The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Chronicles_Dawn_treader_A88697811422This is probably one of the most talked about and anticipated scores of 2010. David Arnold has always pulled out all of the stops and seemed to be comfortable and at home when scoring big action movies. I remember hearing his magnificent theme for STARGATE for the first time and not knowing who the composer was thinking this has got to be John Williams, but then found out it was Arnold so went out of my way to actually get the CD on import because I refused to wait until it was issued in the UK. Then came the thundering and powerful INDEPENDENCE DAY, which certainly contained the wow factor and of course we have his brilliant work on the JAMES BOND movies, plus there was that gorgeous Barry-esque theme for THE LAST OF THE DOGMEN that is rich and luxurious on the ear. Arnold for me evokes a feeling and atmosphere that one used to experience in film scores many years ago. Within his soundtracks there are an abundance of themes and magnificent set pieces to accompany the imagery and stories unfolding on screen, as there were back in the golden and silver ages of film music. Nowadays it seems to be something of a fashion to underscore or understate the music, even stifle it in some cases using it simply as a decoration, there are no real wholesome or developed thematic properties anymore in music for the blockbusters or in 99 percent of Hollywood made films, well until now at least. THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is I am glad to say one of the composers most accomplished, sumptuous and grandiose works for the cinema to date. Right from the beginning there is a sound and air to this score that is magical, fragile and mystical. THE OPENING TITLE track is short lived but soon manages to establish itself and conjure up an atmosphere that is breathtakingly stunning and brimming with enchantment and mysterious overtones. Choir, strings and horns combine to create a sound that is wistful, sweeping and attractive, with utilisation of fleeting chimes and a smattering of timpani which both act as a punctuation of sorts, as well as enhancing further the central performances. It is a perfect introduction and also an enticing invitation to the listener to explore further the musical delights that lay ahead and there are many of those.
Track 2, THE PAINTING, is more of a robust, windswept and dramatic sounding work, brass and strings perform in unison complimenting and enhancing each other interspersed by timpani and flyaway sounding woods to give the impression of urgency and a distinct atmosphere of action and adventure, but the mood changes mid way through the cue relaxing slightly, the same instruments melding together to bring us an uplifting almost reassuring conclusion to the piece. Track 3, HIGH KING AND QUEEN OF NARNIA, is penned by Harry Gregson Williams and is the theme utilised in the two previous movies. This is also an opulent and noble sounding work, full bloodied and heroic in its make up and overall sound but at the same time tinged with a slight ambience of melancholy that radiates warmth and pride. Track 8, THE GREEN MIST, brings us a combination of driving strings and brass with shrills from woods which act as a background to chanting male choir and even though this is short lived in its duration again the composer manages to develop and bring the music to its full dramatic potential creating a thrilling and exhilarating composition. Track 9, MARKET FORCES, is for me one of the many highlights from the score, it is within this cue that the composer flex’s his musical muscles showcasing the brass, strings and percussion in a full on run through of one of the scores principal themes, it is not only an stirring piece but one that is exciting, inventive and memorable. The remainder of David Arnold’s score is proud, commanding and passionate, it harkens back to the days of Korngold, Newman and Rozsa, and is the heart of Aslan, the courage of Edmund, the evil of the Snow Queen, the innocence of Lucy and the life blood that brings Narnia and its inhabitants into being.


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