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Best Scores of 2016 – United Kingdom

January 14, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

The fifth installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films and television from my home country, the United Kingdom. This year’s crop of British beauties includes a lovely animation score from a respected veteran, an exciting drama score from an increasingly impressive talent, and several outstanding scores for television.

CALL THE MIDWIFE, SEASON 5 – Maurizio Malagnini

callthemidwifes5Call the Midwife is an enormously popular BBC drama series based on the best-selling autobiographical novels by Jennifer Worth. Set in London in the 1950s, it follows the exploits of Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), a newly-qualified midwife who gets a job working with the nuns of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent which provides medical care to the expectant mothers of the East End. As the series progresses Jenny finds herself at the center of many defining events of the period, including the post WWII baby boom, immigration, the creation of the NHS, and the thalidomide scandal, while simultaneously dealing with a variety of contemporary social, cultural and economic issues, including miscarriages and stillbirths, abortion and unwanted pregnancies, birth defects, poverty, prostitution, incest, and racism, and how that conflicts with religion and faith.

The first three seasons of Call the Midwife were scored by composer Peter Salem, but at the beginning of Season 4 in 2015 composing duties transferred to the massively talented Anglo-Italian composer Maurizio Malagnini, who many will remember from his astonishingly beautiful score for the TV movie Peter & Wendy. Malagnini continued scoring the show in 2016 for Season 5, and anyone who fell in love with his bold, emotional, lush writing for his version of Peter Pan will find themselves equally enraptured by his music here.

After opening with a gorgeous, optimistic arrangement of Salem’s original main title theme “Summer is Coming,” Malagnini settles in to present cue after cue of lyrical, emotional, at times devastatingly beautiful orchestral writing, mainly centered around strings and piano. Sometimes the music is light and playful, mirroring the romantic adventures of the midwives outside of work; sometimes it is dramatic and deadly serious, to capture the sequence of health-related crises and issues the midwives have to face in their professional lives. Cues such as “The Rain,” the dream-like “Patsy and Delia,” the charming and optimistic “The Theme for a New Life,” the romantic “Cynthia’s Veil”, and the exquisite “Remember Your Father Before He Dies” are effortlessly beautiful, with cascading piano figures and sweeping, swooning string lines, which often combine with elegant woodwind textures and gentle harps.

Conversely, pieces like “Retained Placenta,” ‘Trixie and Alcoholism,” “Trixie is Lost,” “The Moment I Have Lost You,” and the sublime “The Hidden Side of Trixie,” are thoughtful, contemplative, and occasionally a little downbeat, using the same set of complementary instruments to illustrate that, often, working in the medical field, and especially working with children, can be a terribly sad experience for those providing care as much as those receiving it. The gentle, almost religioso children’s choir that appears in “She Wants to Live” and “A Moment of Darkness for Turner” is just beautiful, while the more agitated string writing in “Doctor Turner’s Operation” is one of the score’s few concessions to more heightened, frantic drama.

I hear subtle echoes of great British classical music in Malagnini’s writing, ranging from Vaughan Williams to Elgar and Holst, which is somehow simultaneously nostalgic and redolent of an England long since past, but also contemporary and vibrant in the way it addresses issues that affect everyone. And, throughout it all, Malagnini retains a core of elegance and emotional resonance that makes the music a wonderful thing to experience.

Soundtrack albums of Peter Salem’s scores for Season 1 and Season 2, as well as the 2013 Christmas Special, have been released in the UK, but none of Malagnini’s music has been formally released since the composer change, and this is a real shame because, as I mentioned, much of it is quite staggeringly beautiful. This promo of the music for Call the Midwife Season 5 was produced by Malagnini for promotional and award consideration, but hopefully some enterprising producer will see fit to release it commercially in the near future. It’s too good to go unheard.

Track Listing: 1. Summer is Coming (written by Peter Salem) (2:33), 2. The Rain (2:25), 3. Patsy and Delia (2:27), 4. Retained Placenta (1:55), 5. Trixie and Alcholism (1:09), 6. She Wants To Live (2:07), 7. Doctor Turner’s Operation (2:52), 8. A Moment of Darkness for Turner (3:36), 9. Presents for Dr. Turner (1:03), 10. Cynthia’s Theme (1:15), 11. Trixie is Lost (1:05), 12. The Theme for a New Life (5:29), 13. Thalidomide’s Theme (3:09), 14. Cynthia’s Veil (1:26), 15. Nurse Crane’s Big Soul (1:18), 16. Cynthia is Almost Dead (1:42), 17. A Place For Us (1:00), 18. The Moment I Have Lost You (1:25), 19. There is Place for Healing (2:49), 20. The Hidden Side of Trixie (2:41), 21. Remember Your Father Before He Dies (6:57), 22. The True Meaning of Love (3:52). Promo, 54 minutes 25 seconds.

 

ETHEL & ERNEST – Carl Davis

ethelernestThe British writer and artist Raymond Briggs has been charming adults and children alike with his wonderfully whimsical, funny, heartbreaking cartoons for more than 40 years. Some of his best loved works, including Father Christmas, The Snowman, When the Wind Blows, and The Bear, have been adapted into animated feature films – The Snowman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1982 – which are just as well-loved as the original books themselves. Ethel & Ernest is the latest one, an adaptation of Briggs’s 1998 work which tells the story of his own parent’s lives, from their first meeting in 1928 to their deaths in 1971, and encompassing all the major events in British history through that period. The film features the voices of Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent as the titular couple, and has a lovely, evocative score by the great Carl Davis.

TV work aside, this is the first film score of any real significance that Davis has written since Topsy-Turvy in 1999, and it’s wonderful to see that he hasn’t lost any of his touch despite now being 80 years old. Davis’s contribution to the score totals just 15 minutes, necessitated by him having to weave in and out of numerous instrumentals and songs from the period, but he does manage to make a positive impression despite the brevity of many of the cues, writing music that will cause a swell of nostalgia in any Englishman of a certain age.

The “Opening Titles” introduce the score’s pretty main theme for solo piano and soft strings, a gentle and wonderfully wistful piece that hearkens back to a time gone by, full of simple truths and warm emotions. It reappears in “The Baby” on shimmering strings, on a slightly dejected-sounding oboe in “Paddington,” and with a sense of longing in the conclusive “Pear Tree”. Meanwhile, “London 1928” introduces the love theme for Ethel and Ernest, which has the pomp and elegance of a refined waltz, moves effortlessly between brass and strings, and reappears in subsequent cues like “We’re Going to Be Married,” and “Dorset: A Visit.”

“Blitzkrieg” is the score’s only action cue, a rhythmic piece with smart rat-a-tat percussion and shrill woodwinds that attempts to capture the terror of World War II and those awful times in 1941 when Nazi bombs rained down on the British capital night after night. Meanwhile, as if in defiance of Hitler, cues like “Walking in the Park with Eloise,” “Homemaking Montage,” the florid “Housekeeping,” and “Grammar School,” are finger-snapping pieces of upbeat ragtime jazz, which often make use of solos for muted trumpets and clarinets that one of those great British bandleaders from the era would have been proud to perform.

The album, on Decca Records, is padded out by a multitude of instrumentals and wartime songs performed by beloved British artists of the 1940s and 50s – everyone from Al Bowlly to Gracie Fields, Juliette Gréco and The Shadows, performing classic standards like “Blue Skies Are Round the Corner,” “Tea for Two,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and even “The Laughing Policeman”. In fact the only thing missing is Flanagan & Allen singing “Underneath the Arches,” Vera Lynn pining over the white cliffs of Dover, and George Formby leaning on a lamppost. The final track is a gem: an original song, “In the Blink of An Eye,” written and performed by Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles, which is quite excellent and still displays his inimitable vocal and instrumental style.

It’s true that this album will have much more of an emotional connection to Brits than anyone else, especially those who know, or are familiar with, the musical tropes of World War II and the 1940s; personally, I’m just delighted that Carl Davis is still making vital film music, especially since most people these days only know him from his work re-scoring silent films from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. It’s a long, long time since the heady heights of Champions, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Scandal, and while Ethel & Ernest is a minor work in comparison, it’s still got plenty going for it.

Track Listing: 1. Opening Titles (1:16), 2. London 1928 (2:36), 3. Ethel and Ernest Introduce Themselves (spoken by Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn) (0:31), 4. Walking in the Park with Eloise (2:12), 5. We’re Going to Be Married (0:20), 6. Now You’re in My Arms (performed by Elmer Feldkamp with the Bert Lown Hotel Biltmore Orchestra) (3:22), 7. What a Little Moonlight Can Do (performed by Al Bowlly with Lew Stone & His Band) (2:48), 8. Homemaking Montage (1:32), 9. Blue Skies Are Round the Corner (performed by Denny Dennis with Ambrose and His Orchestra) (2:37), 10. The Baby (0:38), 11. Housekeeping (0:58), 12. Tea for Two (performed by Joe Daniels & His Hot Shots (3:04), 13. Paddington (0:54), 14. The Deepest Shelter in Town (performed by Florence Desmond (2:43), 15. Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree (performed by Fred Douglas with Ivor Kurchin & His Band) (2:34), 16. We’ll Meet Again (performed by Jack Hylton & His Orchestra) (3:14), 17. Blitzkrieg (0:57), 18. Dorset – A Visit (0:24), 19. Singin’ in the Bathtub (performed by Gracie Fields) (2:59), 20. A Perfect Day (performed by Gracie Fields) (2:39), 21. Stagecoach – Opening and Closing Titles (written by Richard Hageman, performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Crouch End Festival Chorus) (2:33), 22. Grammar School (0:33), 23. A Clever Boy (0:32), 24. The Laughing Policeman (performed by Charles Penrose) (2:36), 25. An Ordinary Copper (performed by Tommy Reilly and Jack Warner) (1:23), 26. The Young Ballerina (performed by Charles Williams) (2:34), 27. Sous le Ciel de Paris (performed by Juliette Gréco) (3:18), 28. Foot Tapper (performed by The Shadows) (2:34), 29. Little Things (performed by Dave Berry) (2:24), 30. Reflections of Charles Brown (performed by Rupert’s People) (4:05), 31. Tea For Two Reprise (0:39), 32. She’s Gone (0:18), 33. Pear Tree (0:53), 34. In the Blink of an Eye (performed by Paul McCartney) (3:19). Decca Music, 66 minutes 25 seconds.

 

HIGH-RISE – Clint Mansell

highriseHigh-Rise is a British drama/thriller based on the classic novel by J. G. Ballard (the author of Empire of the Sun and Crash), directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss. It is set in a dystopian alternate society at some point in the near future, and focuses on the inhabitants of a luxurious high rise tower block who, despite having been separated from the outside, gradually find their own isolated community crumbling and descending into violent chaos.

The score for High-Rise is by English composer Clint Mansell, whose gradual transition from 1980s pop star to experimental synth musician to fully-fledged film composer, capable of working across multiple genres and in numerous musical styles, has been impressive to observe. While his score for Sahara was a guilty pleasure, and while scores like Black Swan and Noah and Stoker impressed me on various levels, High-Rise is probably his best score to date.

The score is quite clever in the way it’s structured, in that it mirrors in music the breakdown in civilized society portrayed in the film. It begins with classical, slightly aggressive string lines in “Critical Mass,” a wonderful collision of different textures that whirl around each other, presenting a front of refinement and opulence. The classicism continues through several subsequent cues, including the slightly cold and forbidding “Silent Corridors,” the pastoral and vaguely Thomas Newman-ish “The World Beyond the High-Rise,” and the politely inoffensive, bitterly ironic brass-and-harp dinner party music in “The Evening’s Entertainment.”

However, through all this, Mansell keeps hinting at the darkness within. In addition to all the orchestral bravado, the whole score is overlaid by a bed of glassy, other-worldly sounding whistling synth textures that sit on top of the orchestra like a haze, forcing the listener to listen through it to hear the orchestra underneath. It’s a very clever device, as it subliminally reinforces more of the film’s conceptual ideas: that the sheen of respectability and sophistication the characters show to the world is an illusion masking their rampant carnal impulses.

These impulses bare their teeth as the score continues. The gritty synth textures in cues like “The Vertical City” and “Cine-Camera Cinema,” the twisted statements of the whistling theme in “The Circle of Women” and “Somehow the High-Rise Played into the Hands of the Most Petty Impulses,” and the flamboyant percussive ideas in “A Royal Flying School,” all remind us that their world is built on the merest threads of civility, and can easily come crashing down once the masks of decorum are removed. Best of all are the propulsive string rhythms, agitated brass clusters, hints of church organ, and moments of pure dissonance, in “Danger in the Streets of the Sky,” a truly tremendous piece of music which expertly inter-weaves several statements of the main theme throughout its 6-minute running time.

All this is very impressive stuff from Clint Mansell, who with this score really cements his reputation as a composer and musical dramatist of increasing skill and sophistication. The score is available from Silva Screen Records, and gets a hearty recommendation from me to anyone who enjoys intelligent, well-conceived drama scores that show a great deal of musical innovation.

Track Listing: 1. Critical Mass (2:18), 2. Silent Corridors (3:09), 3. The World Beyond the High-Rise (4:04), 4. The Vertical City (2:44), 5. The Circle of Women (3:27), 6. Built, Not for Man, But for Man’s Absence (3:29), 7. Danger in the Streets of the Sky (6:07), 8. Somehow the High-Rise Played into the Hands of the Most Petty Impulses (3:16), 9. Cine-Camera Cinema (2:36), 10. A Royal Flying School (3:03), 11. The Evening’s Entertainment (4:07), 12. Blood Garden (3:41). Silva Screen SILCD-1501, 42 minutes 06 seconds.

 

THE MUSKETEERS, SEASON 3 – Paul Englishby

themusketeers-s3The Musketeers is a historical action-drama TV series from the BBC, based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, which charts the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino), who leaves his rural home and travels to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard protecting the French monarchy. The show has been a popular success on British TV since it first began airing in January 2014, with the third and final season premiering in May 2016. The main theme of the show, and the score for the first season, was written by the popular Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, but at the beginning of season two he was replaced by composer Paul Englishby (although Gold’s main theme, an upbeat renaissance-style dance piece with gruff, chanting voices, was retained). Englishby returned to score the show’s final season, which continues where he left off in season 2; it’s an action-packed, elegant, classical score, perfectly accompanying the adventures of these legendary characters of French literature.

Most of the score comprises a duel between action and romance. The action music, in cues such as the opening “Refugees,” “Sylvie Hides the Evidence,” the sprightly and mischievous-sounding “Bonnaire,” the second half of “Sylvie and Athos,” and “The Prisoners Escape,” is very impressive. Englishby’s style is to take a bed of throbbing percussive ideas and enliven them with an array of creative instrumental textures: lithe swirling string figures, pulsating triplet-heavy brasses, evocatively dexterous woodwind phrases. Deconstructed versions of Englishby’s flashy, serpentine Musketeers theme weave their way through much of the score, appearing in various hidden guises and as little leitmotivic nuggets, before receiving appropriately heroic, fuller statements in cues such as the rampant “The Garrison,” and towards the end of the reflective, celebratory “Season Three Finale”.

Sequences of tension and suspense give the score a sense of drama; the low, ominous chords and elongated sustains in cues like “Feron” and the Gothic “Madman” are, by their nature, a little more introverted, but their comparative musical reticence makes the bold moments of swashbuckling bravado elsewhere all the more impressive. Meanwhile, the romance and heightened emotion in cues such as “King Louis,” “Porthos Meets Elodie,” “Death of a Great Man,” and the gorgeous “Conclusions,” has more than a hint of classic Hollywood to it, with shimmering strings and delicate pianos. Also of note are the seductive, exotic Middle Eastern tones of “Feron’s Entertainment,” which sounds like the music one might hear in the harem of a Bedouin prince, as well as the beautifully rendered, spiritual choral writing in the moving “Requiem”.

An album containing music from both season 2 and season 3 of The Musketeers was released by Silva Screen in 2016 – the content of the Season 2 portion is basically identical to the promo I reviewed last year, which is why I’m concentrating solely on the music from Season 3 here. Paul Englishby’s music for this series has been consistently excellent, especially in the way he has found new and interesting ways to breathe new musical life into a story which has been told and re-told so often it could have been easy to write clichés. It is recommended to anyone with an ear for rousing historical drama with a rich vein of stirring action.

Track Listing: 1. Refugees (4:14), 2. Sylvie Hides the Evidence (2:16), 3. Feron (3:32), 4. Bonnaire (1:14), 5. Sylvie and Athos (2:53), 6. Feron’s Entertainment (1:36), 7. Grimaud’s Wrath (3:02), 8. King Louis (2:17), 9. The Prisoners Escape (2:38), 10. Madman (1:17), 11. Humiliation of the Red Guard (3:06), 12. The Village (1:41), 13. Porthos Meets Elodie (2:01), 14. Death of a Great Man (2:12), 15. Hiding the King (1:47), 16. Conclusions (2:44), 17. The Garrison (6:04), 18. Requiem (1:36), 19. We Refuse to Die (2:21), 20. Series Three Finale (5:00). Silva Screen SILCD-1509, 57 minutes 05 seconds.

 

PENNY DREADFUL, SEASON 3 – Abel Korzeniowski

pennydreadful-s23Penny Dreadful is a Gothic horror/drama series set in Victorian London. Taking inspiration from the classic writings of Shelley, Stoker, Wilde, and others, as well as the “penny dreadful” magazines which told lurid tales of serial killers, highwaymen and cowboys, creator John Logan re-imagined these classic characters in a new setting, interacting with each other, and working together to defeat an ancient evil. The story of Season 3 follows Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), an American gunslinger with a dark secret, returning to the United States with Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), a famed African explorer, and Kaetenay (Wes Studi), a Native shaman, to reconcile his past. Meanwhile, the mysterious Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) is still being stalked by an ancient vampire-like creature, and enlists the help of a doctor (Patty Lupone) to help her – a decision which again leads to her crossing paths with Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), his contemporary Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif), and his creation (Rory Kinnear), whose past is inextricably linked to Vanessa’s.

Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski returned to score Season 3 of the show, and once again he endows it with a wash of Gothic horror combined with sweeping romance and lyricism. His music retains that lush, string-heavy sound so closely associated with the genre; often it lurks in the shadows, dark and brooding, while at other times it explodes into the light, presenting soaring themes that illustrate the depth of feeling and wild emotions embraced and, sometimes, endured by the characters.

Cues like “The Master” and “False Mirrors,” are built around deep, rumbling cello passacaglias, enlivened by torrid virtuoso string passages, and a throbbing four-note brass motif that announces the presence of the vampire lord himself. Elsewhere, the sense of drama and tragedy is palpable, where cues like “Us and Our Kin” allow Korzeniowski to embrace some stirring music that builds to darkly gloomy crescendos. Much of this music sounds like the stuff his great countryman Wojciech Kilar might have written, strikingly passionate shrouded in crushed velvet and lace brocade.

A more lyrical, optimistic sound gives the theme for “Dr Jekyll” a different feel, while the love theme for Vanessa and her new beau, Dr Sweet, in cues such as “Nocturnal Danger” and “Common Red Fox,” lives up to its namesake, never hinting at the danger inherent in the relationship. It’s clever on Korzeniowski’s part that both the theme for the Master and the theme for Dr Sweet are built around the same four-note progression, and that he often plays it against variations on the entire show’s main theme, ‘Demimonde,’ as in the longing, searching “Rejection,” the gorgeous “House of the Night Creatures,” or the majestic “Such Is Our Power, Such Is Our Kingdom”.

Conversely, the drudgery of Vanessa’s incarceration in the insane asylum is met with low, thudding piano chords and string phrases, in cues like “Guardian Angels” and “White Room,” while “All Light Will End” is one of Korzeniowski’s few excursions into the world of pure musical horror. Elsewhere, the music that accompanies Ethan Chandler’s journeys through the Old West features more prominent writing for brass, low end pianos, and tribal percussion, although don’t expect anything remotely resembling Elmer Bernstein. Cues like “New Mexico,” “Las Cruces,” “We Butcher Them,” the gargantuan “Ethan Kills,” and the apocalyptic “Werewolves,” are darkly energetic and pulsating, and often quite dissonant, and shed much of the European classicism from elsewhere in the score to instead embrace a more raw, animalistic sound that never diminishes in intensity.

The grand finale in “Let It End” builds from initial mournful string dissonances to something cathartic and operatic over the course of almost seven minutes, a mass of heavenly violins playing subtle variations on the Demimonde theme. The epilogue cue, “Boat to Africa,” provides a fitting coda to the entire show and ends things on a hesitantly optimistic note as Sir Malcolm, finally free of his ties to London, returns to his beloved Dark Continent to the strains of warm, noble strings and sawed cellos.

An album containing music from both season 2 and season 3 of Penny Dreadful was released by Varese Sarabande in 2016, but I am concentrating solely on the music from Season 3 here, due to the time-sensitive nature of the article (although, for the record, the music from Season 2 is just as good). These three seasons of music are wonderful examples of Abel Korzeniowski’s magnificent talent, and stand as some of the best TV music written in the last decade.

Track Listing: 1. The Master (2:43), 2. New Mexico (4:25), 3. Las Cruces (2:26), 4. Dr. Jekyll (2:25), 5. Madness (2:53), 6. Nocturnal Danger (2:10), 7. False Mirrors (2:13), 8. Guardian Angels (3:15), 9. Common Red Fox (3:02), 10. We Butcher Them (2:01), 11. Us and Our Kin (1:45), 12. Rejection (2:34), 13. Ethan Kills (3:33), 14. White Room (2:56), 15. One Day Soon (1:10), 16. Revelation (6:03), 17. House of the Night Creatures (4:16), 18. Such Is Our Power, Such Is Our Kingdom (2:41), 19. All Light Will End (2:49), 20. Werewolves (2:13), 21. Let It End (6:45), 22. Boat to Africa (4:45), 23. Explorer’s Club (Season One Bonus Track) (2:54). Varese Sarabande, 72 minutes 09 seconds.

 

RIPPER STREET, SEASON 4-5 – Dominik Scherrer

ripperstreet-s4Ripper Street is a British TV series set in Whitechapel in the East End of London in 1889, six months after the infamous Jack the Ripper murders finally ended. H Division is the police precinct tasked with keeping order, but tensions are understandably high, as each new murder elicits fear that the Ripper may be back. The show stars Matthew Macfadyen as commander of H Division Edmund Reid, Jerome Flynn as Reid’s right-hand man Bennet Drake, and Adam Rothenberg as former US Army surgeon and Pinkerton agent Homer Jackson, who is H Division’s expert in the new field of forensics. It ran for four years beginning in 2012, with the first three seasons airing on the BBC, and the last two (essentially one season split in half) both premiering on Amazon in 2016.

The score for all five seasons of Ripper Street is by the Swiss-born British composer Dominik Scherrer, who over the past few years has established himself as one of the UK’s top TV composers. Scherrer’s score is very much rooted in the familiar sound that has come to define Victorian London in recent years, and which also informed Hans Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes and David Arnold’s Sherlock TV scores, being a mass of spiky strings and de-tuned pianos, with slightly off-kilter rhythmic ideas that seem to allude to a long-forgotten type of English or Irish folk music.

Where Scherrer’s score differs is in the way he takes that now well-established sound and turns it into something fresh and exciting. In addition to the standard orchestral complement, Scherrer often uses the pianos and solo fiddles to lead the thematic lines, while simultaneously augmenting his palette with an array of plucked metallic sounds ranging from guitars to harps, to what sounds like a sampled harpsichord, and even some subtle synth textures. The main theme, given its most prominent outing in the sixth cue, subtly runs through much of the rest of the score, allowing it to retain a sense of thematic consistency without overloading the viewer with ad nauseam restatements.

The action sequences, in cues like “A New Police Station,” “Policing,” and the thunderous “End Montage,” are fun and exciting, with energetic fiddle solos dancing atop sprightly, vigorous string and piano rhythms. To counterbalance this, there is also a great deal of pathos running through the score, from the tragedy of “Childlessness,” and the brooding darkness of “Reid Returns to Whitechapel,” to the mournful cello chords and virtuoso violin writing of “Reid Led to Shine,” and the soulful hummed vocals in “The Dove Brothers.” Clearly, as Scherrer’s music shows, the East End of London in the 1890s could be a brutal place to live if you were poor.

However, where Scherrer’s score really excels is in the moments of high emotion: the dramatic urgency and bitterness of “Susan Hanged,” the searing tragedy of “Killing Leonard,” the longing and regret of “Burying Robin.” The solo violin performances that anchor several of these cues are stunningly realized. Best of all is the longest cue on the album, “Nathaniel’s Execution/Dove to Prison,” which makes wonderful use of funereal liturgical chanting from a male voice choir.

An album containing music from seasons 1 through 3 of Ripper Street was released by Silva Screen Records in 2015, and is excellent. This promo contains music from 2016’s Season 4 and Season 5, and is not yet available for public purchase; hopefully, someone at Silva will rectify this in the near future to provide a comprehensive overview of everything Scherrer contributed to this fun, popular show.

Track Listing: 1. Jackson Wakes Up (1:13), 2. A New Police Station (2:51), 3. Childlessness (1:14), 4. Policing (0:52), 5. Reid Returns to Whitechapel (1:12), 6. Amazon Titles Series Four (0:57), 7. Killing Teague (1:12), 8. Susan Hanged (3:27), 9 .Hackman (1:53), 10. End Montage (1:41), 11. Drake (2:08), 12. Reid Led to Shine (2:30), 13. The Dove Brothers (1:02), 14. Killing Leonard (1:18), 15. The Past Catches Up (0:37), 16. I Hate You (1:51), 17. Burying Robin (1:56), 18. Look Upon Him (3:03), 19. Nathaniel Gone (1:54), 20. Nathaniel’s Execution/Dove to Prison (4:00), 21. Time Has Passed (0:52), 22. Jackson is Dead (2:18). Promo, 40 minutes 10 seconds.

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  1. February 3, 2017 at 10:02 am

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