Right from episode one of VICTORIA which was screened last year (2016) on the ITV network in the UK, I was immediately struck by the musical score. At first I was not aware of the whom the composer was, but was not surprised the music was so good after I saw the credits for Ruth Barret and Martin Phipps, both have written some wonderful music both for TV and movies and have also diversified and reached out into other musical genres. I first became aware of Martin Phipps via his score for the movie BRIGHTON ROCK and it was earlier in 2016 that we experienced his music on the little screen for the BBC production of WAR AND PEACE. He has also provided the music for projects such as PEAKY BLINDERS, WALLANDER, WOMAN IN GOLD and worked with Ruth Barrett on a handful of assignments. Ruth Barrett too has been involved with several successful movies and TV programmes, HARRY BROWN, for example the 2009 Michael Caine movie on which she collaborated with Martin Phipps and the WHITECHAPEL series as well as more recently the delightful soundtrack to THE DURRELS. VICTORIA being a historical biopic about one of England’s most well-known Monarchs obviously called for music that was regal, epic and had to it special a appeal within its make-up. Phipps and Barrett I am glad to say succeeded in creating a score that superbly supported and underlined all the scenarios that unfolded in the first series and I am hopeful that the composers will return for the second series when it hits our screens later this year. I must admit that I wrote to Ruth Barrett enquiring if there would be a soundtrack release, to which she replied “hopefully” well it’s taken a while but it is now available as a digital release only, whether there are plans to release a compact disc or even a vinyl edition I am not sure, but the digital release age is upon us I suppose even though we are told that the old vinyl record is making a comeback, VICTORIA is available on Amazon, I Tunes and Spotify, and I for one do not mind putting up with listening to the score this way, it is a work that is imposing and certainly haunting thanks mainly to the composers use of the excellent voices that are THE MEDIAEVAL BAEBES, which are an all-Female musical ensemble which were formed in 1990 by Dorothy Carter and Katherine Blake. The sound achieved by this talented group is stunning and well suited to the drama of VICTORIA. The soundtrack opens with VICTORIA-THE SUITE, which is a full working of the central theme for the series that features he Mediaeval Baebes who are supported by strings, horns and other brass which are present but never in any way overpower the beautiful vocals which become increasingly prominent as the composition progresses.
Track number two, THE KING IS DEAD is a more urgent and slightly more dramatic sounding piece which relies upon the use of driving strings that receive support and punctuation from the brass section, the strings creating a sense of urgency as they increase in volume but then fade away as swiftly they manifested themselves bringing the cue to its conclusion. Track three, CORONATION, is reversed as it begins slowly with a melancholy sounding piano solo, that performs a variation of the scores central theme, this lilting, and emotive opening ushers in a combination of voices and a mournful sounding cello that is itself accompanied by the string section and given support from organ as the wonderful voices of THE MEDIAEVEL BAEBES begin to add their weight to the proceedings. Track number four, LORD M. is a quieter and more subdued sounding piece, solo piano again which builds by way of a four-note motif that is gradually underlined by strings and then is joined by cello and as the composition builds in momentum more strings are added and timpani which creates an atmosphere that is slightly apprehensive. One of the many highlights of the score is track number five, LOCOMOTIVES, strings, woodwind, voices, and brass all combine to create a delightfully exhilarating and enjoyable piece. The score for VICTORIA is a delight to listen to it is a soundtrack that is filled with beautiful melodies, marvellous and unique sounding vocalising and it will be one that you will return to many times. Recommended.
1 Victoria The Suite – Martin Phipps, Benji Merrison & Mediaeval Baebes
2 The King Is Dead – Martin Phipps
3 Coronation – Martin Phipps & Mediaeval Baebes
4 Lord M – Martin Phipps
5 Locomotives – Ruth Barrett
6 Mirrors – Martin Phipps
7 The Wedding – Martin Phipps, Ruth Barrett & Mediaeval Baebes
8 The Royal Birth – Ruth Barrett
9 Privy Council – Martin Phipps
10 A Royal Affair – Ruth Barrett
11 Victoria Titles Martin Phipps and The Mediaeval Baebes.