The score for WATERSHIP DOWN is a classic work which was penned by Angela Morley and Malcolm Williamson with the song BRIGHT EYES being the work of Mike Batt. Conducted by Marcus Dodds this is a quintessentially English sounding score with more than a gentle nod in the direction of vintage composers such as Walton and his like. I think the attraction of the score to WATERSHIP DOWN is the simplicity of it and also the absence of electronic support, written at a time when synthesisers were beginning more than ever to be utilised within film scoring, composers Morley and Williamson decided to approach the assignment in a more traditional way making effective use of symphonic rather than synthetic. The actual credits read music by Angela Morley, Incidental music by Malcolm Williamson, whether this was a collaboration in the true sense of the word I am not sure and which composer was responsible for the lions share of the music too is a mystery but there is a richness and also a melodic lushness present within the score that at times reminds one of the works of Richard Rodney Bennett in particular his soundtracks for FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and LADY CAROLINE LAMB, it has to it an ambience and style that also has many affiliations with composer John Addison (A BRIDGE TOO FAR) and also resonates a haunting and lingering appeal via the many themes included within its duration. I think that Williamson and Morley must have at some point worked together on the music because the compositions certainly flow and compliment one another.
In my humble opinion this is one of the most appealing soundtracks produced for a British movie in the last fifty years or so, it is filled with emotive and melancholy passages that have the ability to take one back to the movie when listening to the score and straight away be able to recall exactly where the music is utilised within the picture. It is beautiful and mesmerizing as well as being entertaining and of course supporting the animated images on screen, the song BRIGHT EYES is one of the highlights of the work, with the version from the movie being included on the soundtrack album which is different from the edit that entered the British charts, Batt’s music and lyrics vocalised by Art Garfunkel being supported by highly emotive and heartrending strings that are punctuated by subdued harp which also laces and ingratiates the proceedings. I am not certain about the legitimacy of this recording on PENDULUM records, by this I mean is it a fully paid up edition of the soundtrack? The tracks are the same as the original LP release which was on CBS or Sony as it is known now, so surely Sony would have seen the potential of releasing this rather than license it to a smaller label. WATERSHIP DOWN may have been an animated feature but it was an important movie and one that has fascinated and entertained audiences of all ages since its release.
The score is not surprisingly available for download on I Tunes which makes me wonder about the PENDULUM release, but hats off to them as this is a very good recording and is also well presented. Maybe as it is approaching the films 37th Birthday Sony might decide to issue an anniversary edition of the soundtrack, this score is a delight from the offset with the PROLOGUE AND MAIN TITLE opening the disc that includes narration by Michael Hordern, this wonderful opener to the soundtrack sets the scene perfectly and continues on with a number of highlight cues including, VENTURING FORTH, INTO THE MIST, VIOLETS GONE, BRIGHT EYES AND INTERLUDE, KEHAARS THEME and FINAL STRUGGLE AND TRIUMPH. Highly recommended.
“All the world will be your enemy Prince of a thousand enemies, and when they catch you they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner. Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed”.
(closing lines from Prologue).