A new album- if that is the right word – by Debbie Wiseman is an event indeed. I think it must be the first since her excellent CDs of 2018, the hauntingly moving music for EDIE – Certainly one of her finest, and THE GLORIOUS GARDEN, for which there are parallels here, for it is basically the same concept. Whereas on the earlier album, we had Alan Titchmarsh reading his poems to the backdrop of Debbie’s music, and then the same music played sans voice over, here it is very similar, albeit in a slightly shorter form.

The excellent Mr Fry, who puts us all to shame, for he seems to do everything, and just not that, he does it all to perfection as well, has written a book based on Greek Legends entitled MYTHOS. and at the launch party for the book, Mr Fry mentioned to Debbie that perhaps a suite based on the book could be composed. From the written word, Debbie and Mr Fry have fashioned a most enjoyable recording, a combination of evocative music and well-chosen prose. What I like is the high standard that Debbie brings to every project she approaches. From Film Scores, TV Music, themes and pieces for Classic FM Concerts, the music never disappoints, always uplifts and at a time when Film Music is undergoing a period of change, her music, is well, just sublime, melodic ,full of integrity, and in fact, a light shining in a film music darkness.

Mr Fry is a wonderful raconteur and his melodious voice is just perfect on the tracks he appears. It starts with “The Story of Chaos”, the beginning of life as it were, followed by the music sans dialogue. Very slow and, to me very modern and as if the music is being born out of nothing. The next music cue, “Hidden Danger” seems to flow for the earlier cue, and opens up the original theme.

debbie wiseman with stephen fry

I really love “The Story of Apollo and Marsyas” as told by Mr Fry with Debbie’s music undulating behind it. The revelation is to hear this cue, on its own, with solo mandolin carrying the melody, and whilst I have never been to Greece, one can imagine looking over a headland to the blue sea below with the small coastal town in the background just coming to life, and the soft , warm breeze gently brushing against you – There I go, wishing my life away again.

A wonderful concept album, not to be missed, not overly long, but of the highest standard possible, Further testament to the continuing genius of Debbie Wiseman. I liked it a lot, and when I had played it, I went back and played it again!!

Full marks all round.

Review by John Williams. 

Music Composed and Conducted by Debbie Wiseman
Words and Narration by Stephen Fry
Performed by the National Symphony Orchestra
Decca 4818820. Also available on various digital platforms.