MUSIC FOR STRINGS. ISOBEL WALLER-BRIDGE.

 

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There have been a handful of entertaining TV mini-series on in the UK recently, one being VANITY FAIR which has an outstanding musical score by composer Isobel Waller-Bridge. The score I am assured is as I write being prepared for a compact disc release, so in the meantime I looked around for more of this composer’s work, one release I did find was not a soundtrack but a collection of music under the title of MUSIC FOR STRINGS. However, if one did not know it could very easily be from a film or a TV score. It is a brief but interesting collection comprising of just six cues that run for about thirty minutes in total. The collection opens with ARISE, which is a rather forthright and driving piece, a background of strings provides the pace for the composition as the composer adds a subtle theme over the top of these, the re-occurring driving strings provide the foundation on which the remainder of the composition is built. It is one of those tracks hat if utilised in a movie would be the one that supports a journey or maybe a central character within the storyline making their way on horseback across the open moorland or wild countryside, it has this kind of sound and style. Something that would not be out of place in any period/costume drama. The next cue is slightly more subdued and has to it a beautiful central theme, THE LAST WORDS OF M, is a sombre yet melodic piece that for me evoked the sound and style of the French composer Georges Delerue who was always so consistent in creating themes and scores that were melodious, rich and romantic. When I say sombre I am not entirely certain that is the best way to describe it, as it is not gloomy or dull, I think it is an intensely emotive piece stylistically akin to that of Barbers Adagio for strings. The core melody rising and falling as it creates an impassioned and melancholy sounding musical persona. The music purveys a sadness and a highly poignant atmosphere, its melody being haunting as well as affecting, the composer fashioning a serious but at certain points uplifting composition. Track number three, IVY, has to it a more experimental sound or at least within its introduction as we hear electronic sounds that are given depth and texture by underlying strings, the composition then alters direction and becomes a heartrending melody that is performed on cello and violin the combination of the deep and sorrowful sounding cello and the touching and fragile violin supported by the string section is quite stunning and creates a highly expressive sound that is sensitive, passionate and alluring, the electronic sounds still being present throughout but not so pronounced as in the introduction. Track number four, BLOOM is a brief but delightfully light and easy-going piece, guitar combining with the string section and given a slightly more up-tempo or contemporary atmosphere using percussion that sets the pace. It is a fresh and airy composition, which for me personally had a slightly laid-back Caribbean musical identity to it.

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Track number five is a bit of fun I think, RUBY POLKA, is just a delight to hear, simple but effective it is a charming and enchanting piece. Track number six, UNTOUCHED BY A STORM, is the longest running track on the release having a duration of over seven minutes, and I think is probably the most accomplished and complex compositions on the recording, this I think is probably my own personal favourite within the collection, it is passionate as well as being powerful, filled with emotion and skilfully crafted. Sorry to make comparisons again, but it did evoke memories of vintage movie scores as penned by the likes of Korngold and Newman from time to time whilst listening to it, but in the main this a classical piece that has to it stature and beauty, the composer fashioning a meticulous and superb composition. Its harmonic beauty shines through and manages to infiltrate the emotions and the heart and soul of the listener, the best way to describe Isobel Waller-Bridge’s MUSIC FOR STRINGS is to say, this is film music which does not have a film, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I look forward to the soundtrack of VANITY FAIR being released and much more from this obviously talented British composer.

 

Available now on Spotify.

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