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.
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.
Any new score by British composer Debbie Wiseman is a delight, however her latest release, Edie is an even greater joy, the music is such an overwhelming pleasure, it is subtle and thematic and also haunts the listener right from the moment they first encounter it. The score is performed for a 50-piece orchestra, which by the sound of things is made up mainly of strings and woods with piano, a handful of brass and a scattering of percussion. The music for EDIE is intimate and highly emotive, and it has to it a personal and pleasing musical persona which at times purveys the atmosphere of loneliness or solitude. Fashioned beautifully and orchestrated lovingly it is a work of art literally. The composer utilises solo guitar throughout the work, which is I suppose the musical identity of the main character EDIE portrayed wonderfully by accomplished British actress, Sheila Hancock. The guitar solos drift throughout the work, underlined with delicate and fragile support from strings and woods, the guitar being the foundation of the work, and the remainder of the score radiating from this. The guitar is always centre stage and although it is enhanced, embellished and punctuated by the string section with little nuances provided via woodwind and the odd musical full stop or comma being added by the percussion, none of the instruments overwhelm each other, the composer has the balance perfectly right, and manages to create the perfect mix throughout. I was lucky enough to interview the composer about the movie last year after she had finished scoring it. There is a lot of music in the movie and many of the scenes towards the end of the movie are given over to the music as in no or very little dialogue, the composer really gave the film greater depth and certainly more of an emotional impact with her lyrical and at times melancholy sounding soundtrack, touching piano solos, and the fragility of the guitar are poignant and meaningful. This is a score that you won’t like, instead you will fall in love with it and adore it. Subtle but affecting, EDIE is a must for your collection. Highly recommended. Released on May 25th 2018, on Silva Screen records.
A new album by Debbie Wiseman is always a welcome arrival A sign of true quality, of good taste, and sheer superb musicianship. In this instance, not a Soundtrack CD per se, but one that any lover of her unmistakably recognisable music will admire right from the very first track.
The first track though that said is not music. We have a tribute if that is the right word to the Garden. it could be here or indeed anywhere. A very canny move for all over the world, there are Garden fanatics and Music lovers. Why not put them together and you have a double triumph.
Alan Titchmarsh as we all know is a Multi talented broadcaster, author, pundit and Gardening Expert. He has written more books that I was aware of so it is obvious that poetry is a natural adjunct on from there. It maybe that I have missed it, but this could be a first specifically designed for Garden admirers. It may have been that Sir John Betjeman and Jim Parker did something similar back in the 70s etc, but I may wrong.
Be that as it may, we have twelve poems, written and read by Alan Titchmarsh, each poem followed by a musical portrait by Debbie Wiseman. Only on the last track, “The Glorious Garden” do music and poem combine together.
I suspect with even more listening my favourites will vary somewhat, but I love the strong and sturdy “Cedar of Lebanon”, the rousing and powerful “Topiary”, the soft and elegant “Snowdrop” but at the moment, my personal favourite is “Water Lily”, soft evocative opening that reminds one in a very positive way of Vaughan Williams. Debbie has written many compositions away from the Film and Television World, I wonder if she has ever contemplated writing a Symphony?. If so, it would be superb, for I think there is nothing she can’t do, for having listening to her music for a number of years now- I was privileged to write the CD notes for WILDE – I am so impressed that the standard she has kept up in a very fast moving world where deadlines are all important and the music has to be finished by a certain date. Still maybe it’s like Sir Andre Previn once said, you have to have that deadline to focus the mind and indeed finish the matter in hand.
I should also add wonderful playing by the National Symphony Orchestra led by Perry Montague – Mason with great solos by Violinist Jack Liebeck on “Myrtle” and “Snowdrop”, Gavin McNaughton (Bassoon ) on “Peony”, Andy Crowley (Trumpet) on “Marigold” and Debbie herself playing the piano on “Witch Hazel”
One can tell that Debbie was truly inspired by Alan’s poetry to compose such fine music. As I write, it is Number One in the Classic FM Charts and long may it reign
You can listen to either the poems, both , or just the music, and think of it perhaps as a score for Garden Documentary , but what ever way you listen to it, you will be rewarded with many hours of enjoyment, and how many albums can you say that about these days!
Of late Debbie has also been working on a movie entitled EDIE with Sheila Hancock , directed by Simon Hunter which will be released to the Cinemas on May 25th and the CD of the score will also released on that date by Silva Screen Records. Plus – good news all round – series 7 of FATHER BROWN which is just a delight, and I would love to see a commercial recording of the music ,for Debbie must have written hours of music for this entertaining series
To sum up, a most enjoyable album, to be enjoyed on many levels , A very worthy successor to last years MUSICAL ZODIAC. I love that album, and it helps when you like the music for your month of birth!.
We are indeed lucky to have talents as Alan Titchmarsh and Debbie Wiseman to provide us with so much enjoyment, via the written page and music. Let’s look forward to their next collaboration
It’s not that often that we are treated to concerts of film music, and it’s even rarer to have recordings of the concerts released, so I am so pleased that the Debbie Wiseman concert at the Barbican in London has been issued onto a recording by those lovely people at Silva Screen. Debbie Wiseman is without a doubt one of the most prominent composers of film and TV music in England, and one of the most in demand composers of music for film in the world today. Her melodies are wonderfully constructed and exquisitely orchestrated, they linger long in one’s memory and not only hauntingly beautiful but fit each and every project she works on like the proverbial glove. The composer is conducting the Guildhall School Orchestra on this occasion and the performance is in my humble opinion flawless and inspiring. The recording opens with WILDE WEST from the movie WILDE, now this is a score that is overflowing with thematic content, with its romantic but at the same time fragile sounding nuances and compositions, and when the film was released I was convinced that Debbie would win the Oscar for her efforts on this soundtrack, but alas it was not to be. It is still one of the most played items within my collection, I never tire of hearing its charming and enthralling pieces. The opening cue is followed by another piece from the score entitled, WILDE, which is the central theme from the score, it is abundant with a quality and a sound that we do not encounter often enough within film music nowadays more is the pity. Track three is from TOMS MIDNIGHT GARDEN which is another incredibly emotive and wonderfully haunting piece. Track four is a 4-minute piece from the score to the very popular TV series WOLF HALL which gained many accolades and drew much attention when it was screened on the BBC, it is obvious from the applause at the end of the section that it was also very popular with the audience at THE BARBICAN. Track number five is an 8-minute suite from THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE which is just breath-taking, this is followed by the composer’s highly dramatic music from, THE FLOOD, again popular with the audience. Track seven is a 7-minute piece from the spoof horror movie LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, and although this was essentially a comedy with tongue very much planted in cheek throughout, Wiseman scored it as a serious movie and gave it one of the most alluring and superbly attractive gothic scores that I have heard for many a year. It is quite a majestic sounding work for a horror movie, with lots of brass, choir, and soaring strings, but it works so well within the movie and has a life away from it, being an entertaining listening experience on its own. It is a powerful and commanding work that is performed here with the principal themes from the score being aired.
For track number 8, we are back with the melodic and fragile sounding Wiseman for A POET IN NEW YORK, this is a lovely score and features poignant violin solo and lilting and subtle strings that together create and lush and almost luxurious sound that is supported by horns and rumbling percussion and piano, in many ways this is very similar to Wisemans music for WILDE, it has a powerful but at the same time intimate sound which has purveys an atmosphere of solitude and loneliness. Next up is a short but beautiful suite from the movie HAUNTED, this again contains a theme that one just cannot resist, it is if you will forgive the pun haunting and completely mesmerising. Within the score the theme is performed at one point on piano which is affecting as well as effective, here we are treated to a full orchestral working of this gracious and alluring theme, which is breath-taking. The theme from the TV series Father Brown is next, this always reminds me of a waltz, it’s one of those themes that one hears and knows straight away what it’s from and if you are in another room and you hear it you know the show is starting, it’s quite jaunty and jolly at times but has a hint of a serious side. THE WHALE is next, this begins slowly and quite subdued but builds into a commanding and highly emotional piece performed wonderfully by the Guildhall School orchestra. Next are sections from Debbie’s incredibly powerful tour de force ARSENE LUPINE. In fact, there are four movements from the score, and it is as interesting and enjoyable as it was when I first heard it. The final cue on this superb recording is JUBILEE GIGUE which was written especially for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Again, this is amazingly melodic and stirring, overall this is an album that you should have in your collection, it contains some of the best film and TV music ever written, highly recommended.
It’s been a long time since I went to a gathering or meeting of any type concerning film music, and it’s been even longer since I enjoyed it so much. Today September 24th 2016 I will remember for a long time, it was the first gathering of FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES organised by Tim Smith and James Fitzpatrick, guest composers in attendance were TREVOR JONES, MARK THOMAS, DEBBIE WISEMAN, CHRISTOPHER GUNNING and DANIEL PEMBERTON. All of whom were in a word wonderful, I loved the way that all of them were so relaxed and also so forthcoming with their thoughts and opinions about film music, scoring films and the art and craft of what they do. The last time I attended such a function must have been way back in the 1990, s when it was organised by either THE GOLDSMITH SOCIETY or John Williams of SILENTS AND SATELITTES and early editions of MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES fame. I Seem to recall a few of these SEMINARS as they were called being held at the BONNIGTON hotel in London, but that is by the way. Today’s event was well organised and it ran so smoothly at least that’s what I witnessed, the only hiccups being Tim Smith’s nerves I think, which is understandable when organising something like this, but he handled it very well and made everyone welcome.
It was also a time to put faces to Facebook (other social medias are available) conversations which was also really nice and it was something of a reunion for myself with fellow soundtrack collector Jerry Daley being there and of course talking with Trevor Jones and Chris Gunning after a break of more than a few years, Trevor remarked that is was the sessions for HIDEAWAY when we last saw each other in the flesh as it were.
Held at the renowned ANGEL recording studios in Upper Street Islington, this was an afternoon that I know many will be thinking of for a long while. Tim Smith took to the floor at around two o clock, and spoke to the gathered fifty or so attendees, briefly explained the fire drill then went on to introduce the host for the afternoon, the well know record producer and passionate film music fan James Fitzpatrick, many of us in attendance of course remember buying LP records off of James when he was behind the counter and managing the sadly missed 58 DEAN STREET RECORDS, and then he was one of the driving forces behind SILVA SCREEN initiating that labels foray into re-recordings of soundtracks which included the first release of music from Hammer films for example and renditions of themes from movies such as WITCHFINDER GENERAL, NIGHT OF THE DEMON, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and full score reconstructions and re-recordings of soundtracks such as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA,THE BIG COUNTRY etc. James is now the boss at TADLOW MUSIC producing so many exquisite re-recordings and releases of excellent film music and providing orchestras for composers on various projects.
His attention to detail and also achieving high quality recordings is second to none, and I believe he is a Master of his particular craft and a person who does not shout about his achievements as in blow his own trumpet (forgive the pun). James made a brief introduction, and also then introduced the guests for the afternoon, it was at this point we were treated to something of a sneak preview from an up and coming release on TADLOW, which is Miklos Rozsa’s classic soundtrack for THE THIEF OF BAHGDAD, which like all of TADLOW’S releases sounded magnificent, it was fantastic to hear the music and also see the orchestra conducted by Nic Raine perform.
After the cue had concluded James started things off with a question to the guests about if they thought film music composition was an art or a craft. Debbie Wiseman began the responses, followed by Mark Thomas, Trevor Jones and then Christopher Gunning and Daniel Pemberton, all explained their idea of composition being an art or craft very differently, but I thought basically they all more or less agreed that it was part art part craft, which then segued into discussing other topics that were related to being a composer of film music, this spontaneity by the guests who were happy to chat about almost anything without being prompted for me made the afternoon even more interesting and enjoyable. We learnt that Daniel Pemberton is working on another movie by Guy Ritchie which is a KING ARTHUR film, and also that when he feels he has got something right as in writing a particular cue does a little dance around his flat, which as Debbie Wiseman remarked is an image that will linger in her head for a while.
There were also questions from the audience, which were very interesting enquiries and also the responses from the assembled guest were too as interesting if not more so. It’s surprising that although they all work in the same field they all seem to have different approaches to the actual mechanics of writing the scores, some preferring the more classical and time honoured approach of manuscript and pencil others using the more technical options that are available, which then led to explanations from Trevor Jones about certain software that became available to the composer back in the late 80’s etc, which made it either easier or more of a headache for them to score films. He also spoke of the switch almost overnight from analogue too digital which gave him more than one headache in the studio.
We did have a short break for refreshments and this gave members of the audience a chance to chat amongst themselves and also with the composers, it was at this point the first raffle was held and the winners (not me, I was one away, but I am ok honestly) were given generous goodie bags of compact discs which were given freely by TADLOW, MOVIE SCORE MEDIA, CALDERA and SILVA SCREEN, there were also FANS OF MOVIE MUSIC mugs on sale a snip at £6.95 and then we had a second raffle for a poster advertising the event signed by all the guests.
More questions and answers followed and it became apparent that Christopher Gunning was shall we say a little tired of scoring films and TV as he had been writing what was is called by some “serious” music as in concertos and symphonies for concert hall performance, Christopher was relieved that he never had a deadline or a director and producer peering over his shoulder all the time, but then he said when writing his symphony at times he had wished he could phone up a particularly difficult director and ask him to come round and stand behind him and give him a hard time so he could actually write some music.
Debbie Wiseman and James Fitzpatrick.
Debbie Wiseman told us how she got into the business and how after working on a series such as FATHER BROWN that if a different director was brought in it would be them that had to adapt to her music simply because she had written so many established themes for that series and had been there since the offset. So that was a different perspective, as its normally the composer that has to adapt their music for anything that the director might want to do. All of the composers told stories of either directors or producers that were shall we say difficult, Christopher Gunning remembering to be asked to score POIROT but not include the established and award winning theme for the series, (which everyone knows and loves) Gunning told us that he tried to introduce the theme when he could at one point turning the music upside down.
Daniel Pemberton recalling the time he scored a documentary about Hiroshima, one of the greatest losses of human life in the 20th Century and when it got to the part in the film where the bomb had been dropped and there was utter desolation and destruction, the executives on the film telling him that his music was to down beat and sombre. Mark Thomas being asked to score a section of film with music like the music in the chariot race scene in BEN HUR, and then realising there is no music in that sequence, “So that was easy” he said. Time unfortunately was running out and we had to stop, but then we were allowed to ask the guests to sign CD covers etc. Which they did and gave their time generously stopping to talk to each and every person about the cover they had selected and their love of movie music, the signings were accompanied by some great music and images of orchestra performing at various TADLOW recording sessions.
Overall it was a great success, there were no awkward silences, no silly questions, it was just a good experience that had an easy going atmosphere with all of the composers being quite laid back and forthcoming with snippets of information and various stories of good, bad and ugly situations that they had encountered in their careers. (Chris Gunning was very open and frank) which was very amusing and interesting. I hope that this is an event that will be repeated and become an annual occurrence, we have to thank TIM SMITH who initiated this and also James Fitzpatrick who helped immensely in it coming to fruition, we also have to say a big thank you to all of the composers for their time and also their interest in the people who buy soundtracks and too all the FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES team for being there making the day go well, plus a big thank you to Phil Watkins for taking all of those great photographs, some of which I have with his permission used in this article. marks out of 10, I give it an 11.
Just one thing left to say ENCORE,,,,, Looking forward to FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES 2.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WITH MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE.