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LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS.(sleeve notes for the Kronos CD release, Dec 2019).

By John Mansell. ©2019. Movie music international.


Christmas, ah yes. Tis the season of good will, cheer, warmth and of a peaceful and contented feeling throughout the world, or so we are told. But Christmas can also be a time for tales of witchery, mystery, monsters and ghosts. A Christmas Carol being the obvious go to tale of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but also ending with a wonderfully heart-warming message. Lilly’s hometown prepares for the festive celebrations, and all things Christmas are uppermost in the hearts and minds of everyone, (but are these the right thoughts?) Until that is Lilly accidently summons Rupert who is said to be a companion of Saint Nicolaus. In a modern-day environment Rupert begins to feel uncomfortable and is filled with anger and disappointment when he sees what he thinks are unnecessary material things that are everywhere and are linked with the so-called festive season. In his rage he decides that he will teach the people of Lilly’s town the true meaning of the festive season and install within them respect and good manners. Anne-Kathrin Dern became involved with the film LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS via her on-going collaboration with composer, Klaus Badelt with whom she had been working alongside on various projects for a few years. Badelt, had created the scores for the first two instalments of the movie series and introduced her to the production team who were working on the third. She recorded the score in Belgium in the summer months of 2017, with the music being performed by members of the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra under the baton of conductor Matt Dunkley. Badelt provided the main theme for the movie, (Evil, Can Create Evil) which was a feature of his previous scores. Dern’s score will enthral, enrich and delight, and is one that has so many vibrant musical colours and textures. There is a creative and innovative style present throughout the work, with an inventive and imaginative use of both strings and choir that combine to fashion a magical and ethereal sounding work, which is perfect for a movie that is set during the festive season. It is also a work that is literally dripping with melodious and richly thematic pieces, but also has to it a certain amount of quirkiness and a mischievous quality which underlines and emphasises the more jovial and lighter moments of the film, this quirky style glimmers within and through the main fabric of the score adding another dimension to the movie and also bringing a mysterious and magical musical persona to the soundtrack.


There are a handful of styles present within the score, one of which can be likened to that of Danny Elfman in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, with touches of John Williams in HOME ALONE mode and little strokes of James Horner as in CASPER, which I think cannot be a negative in any way. There is an impish and devilish aura that weaves in and out of the musical proceedings, and at times this evokes a sweeping, otherworldly and urgently rich style employed by composers such as John Debney in scores such as HOCUS POCUS and again John Williams in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. A melancholy and romantic style also begins to make its presence felt as the score progress’s and develops, which at times is interrupted by an adventurous near swashbuckler of a theme as in shades of PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN. One thing is certain there is no shortage of sparkling, mysterious, dramatic, luscious and magical thematic properties here. The soundtrack has to it an intimate side too which can be fragile, delicate and childlike, the tantalising score is filled with an appeal which is haunting as well as charming and it oozes character and quality.
John Mansell. (c) 2019.

“Having grown up during the 90s with Alan Menken’s music for the Disney animations, I’ve always known that music and movies were my passion, but I decided at around age 12 that I wanted to pursue it professionally. I had been playing various instruments and got theory lessons, but it wasn’t until I heard John Williams’ score for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” that I began to research the profession of a film composer. That same year, just a month later, Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” came out and by that time I was completely taken by the idea of writing music for movies. It seemed like an unlikely thing to do at the time, with the film industry being on the other side of the world and without the internet as a resource completely out of reach as well. But I simply continued to study scores on my own, hoping that everything would fall into place eventually”.
Anne-Kathrin Dern. (c) 2018 MMI.











Christmas comes but once a year and when it does it invariably brings a little collection of rather nice soundtrack releases. This Christmas is no exception and I have to say one particular score attracted my attention and also held it. LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS is  a wonderful score, it is filled with a magical and mysterious sound and also has within in so many beautiful rich and haunting themes, that it is hard to take in to account that all of these themes and sounds come from just one score. It has an impish and mischievous aura about it and an overall sound and style that attracts and captivates. The music is by composer Anne-Kathrin Dern, this is only the second score of hers that I have encountered the other being, THE JADE PENDANT which was released just a few weeks back also on Movie Score Media. LILLY’S BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS is a joy to listen to and a delight to discover. The work is overflowing with a lushness and a vibrant abundance of cleverly constructed compositions. As you know I do not like to draw up comparisons, but this score has to it the Christmas sound that was created by composer John Williams for HOME ALONE and also within it and running parallel to that style we have the naughtiness and darkness of sounds that could be Danny Elfman, which manifested in films such as THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and EDWARD SCISSOR HANDS. So John Williams on one side and Danny Elman on the other, that cant be a bad thing, can it? Also there is a style and sound that can only be that of the composer of the score, Anne-Kathrin Dern, so mix and fuse these three styles and what do we have? A great score that’s what. Its always a pleasure to discover a soundtrack that one has not really been aware of or even a composer who suddenly grabs ones attention. This is a prime example of Movie Score Media championing lesser known composers and making collectors aware that there are so many talented individuals working in film music these days, individuals that do not see fit to place a drone or low annoying hum on the soundtrack of a movie without any thematic or melodious qualities. I am not going to go on and on about this score, all I am going to say it is a truly amazing score that allures and captivates with its richness and its sheer beauty. It is a score that will enthral, enrich and delight, and one that has so many musical colours will not fail to become a favourite with  collectors who appreciate excellent film music, So I guess that all means its good. So buy it and be entertained and at the same time join the Anne-Kathrin Dern fan club.  The theme from the movie is the work of established film music composer Klaus Badelt who scored the first two instalments of the Lilly the witch series.  Recommended, yes it is. Merry Christmas.