THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS, opens in cinemas soon. A Disney movie for all the family and just in time for the pre Christmas hype that whips up the kids into a frenzy about the season of goodwill etc. etc. The score for this latest Disney extravaganza is by revered and respected composer James Newton Howard. There is something about Newton Howard’s music that is particularly suited to this type of film. It has to it a magical sound and also contains so much sparkle and shimmer it is hard not to become attracted and mesmerised by it. This is a score that is brimming with that feel good sound that warmth and copious amounts of good cheer. When listening initially I was reminded of Henry Mancini? Dont ask me why, I just suddenly thought, Mancini, maybe it is the time of year r the lush strings that evoked memories of SANTA CLAUSE THE MOVIE not sure, any way, Newton Hoard’s score is a beautifully crafted one and has within it little trademarks that we now associate with the composer via his scores for films such as MALEFICENT, add to this little references to THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY etc. and we have here a hit soundtrack.




Based upon the story by E. Hoffman where we see a young girl transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. All Clara wants is a one-of-a-kind key that she hopes will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. She is presented with a Golden thread at her godfather Drosselmeyer’s annual holiday party, the thread leads her to the key, but no sooner has you got the key that it vanishes, disappearing into a magical and mysterious parallel world. Clarameets a soldier named Phillip, a gang of mice and the heads of State who preside over three Realms, these are The Land of Snowflakes, The Land of Flowers, and The Land of Sweets (my favourite). Clara and Phillip must be brave and go to the fearsome Fourth Realm which is home to the tyrant Mother Ginger, where Clara’s key is and hopefully when they retrieve it they will return harmony to the unstable world. So are you hooked already, I am. I suppose we could say that it was originally scored by Tchaikovsky, but that would be stretching the truth a little, although he did write the NUTCRACKER before the advent of film or at least film according to Disney.



The story has entertained and enthralled so many children and adults over the years and I am confident that this latest manifestation of it will be just as popular. Newton Howard’s music is perfect for the story and the movie, its fragile and otherworldly style underlining and elevating the storyline giving it greater depth and even more of a magical feel. The composer also references certain themes from THE NUTCRACKER and interweaves these elements into his original score. In a number of ways the music does evoke memories of his MALEFICENT score, it is bold, sweeping and Grandiose, Newton Howard utilising choir, strings and proud sounding brass throughout, the quieter moments of the score containing subtle tones for woods and strings, which are affecting and poignant. The work is filled with a vibrant energy that is powerful and commanding, the strings drive the work along at pace in the more upbeat sections of the score but also add melancholy and an emotive sound in the lighter or quieter sections.




We are treated to a musical pallet of colourful thematic passages and an abundance of moods that are light, dark foreboding and richly romantic and filled with melody. Many may say that this is sugary sounding score, but I recommend it to you, two bonus cues include a performance of THE NUTCRACKER SUITE by Lang Lang accompanied by choir and orchestra which is stunning and a vocal performance by Andrea and Matteo Bocelli, who sing FALL ON ME.



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