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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    simple harp line accompanied by very rich strings and later joined by much higher register strings and is a standout cue Other cues to highlight are No Rest For The Wicked which introduces a meandering piano line and a short propulsive motif in the strings and An Infant Born In a Public House which sees another rambling piano line this time cushioning yearning strings in what is quite an emotional piece Although there is a fair amount of repetition with regards to some of the motives and refrains on album I believe this only serves to increase the intensity of the listening experience Middletown is a first class effort Debbie Wiseman has created a musical landscape that is filled with depth emotion pathos and much drama Every once in a while a score I m listening to evokes a word not a feeling Such was the case with Middletown its quiet string torments and urgent fiddle melodies kept whispering the word pious in my head Even though the movie is about a fundamentalist priest returning from Africa to his small Irish town to start a cleansing that even his relatives can t escape there is nothing overly Catholic about the music no church organs or choirs but the rich textures of the writing itself evoke the strange combination of guilt anguish and felicity that Catholicism famously fosters The chord progressions reminded me of Delerue s Agnes of God at times there seems to be a select number of consonant groupings that excel at recalling the Catholic faith and Debbie Wiseman certainly taps into that vein in her score to Middletown With this present score and Arsène Lupin Wiseman shows that she is a composer who triumphs at everything that makes music good melody harmony rhythm dynamics and orchestrations I only mention those two soundtracks since these are the only ones I have heard from her her résumé overflows with compositions that North American audiences might not be familiar with I can only hope that an international best of release is in the works Middletown opens with One of Our Own introducing the Middletown Theme a pious and human melody beautifully accented by quiet and rich harmonies that is built in such a way as to allow the composer to repeat it almost endlessly as if the town itself had always stood and always would It is given voice by a solo violin the signature of this score played with agony as a conscious choice as opposed to a horrible performance by Jack Liebeck a British virtuoso barely in his mid twenties The Hour Is Coming rapidly announces a second theme an urgent descending melody accompanied by a string ostinato and a governing brass line The trombones pick it up at the very end of the track but the theme firmly belongs to the violin Wiseman does not ask for a virtuosic performance out of Liebeck the way Corigliano did of Bell for The Red Violin rather the writing eschews toccatas

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/middletown.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    Wilde starring Stephen Fry The two come together in a slightly different way for a CD called Oscar Wilde Fairy Tales Here Stephen Fry and Vanessa Redgrave narrate two of Oscar Wilde s fairy tales The Nightingale and the Rose and The Selfish Giant Both thoroughly enjoyable stories are read beautifully and precisely by the two stars but the enthralling part is the expressive and passionate music composed by Debbie Wiseman to accompany the stories and played elegantly by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields These two wonderful swirling compositions are full of wonderful phrases and passages that take over from the narrative for extended periods and are never far from centre stage The CD also contains two other Debbie Wiseman compositions billed as orchestral interludes entitled My Own Garden and One Last Song Both are written in the same stunning classical vein with beautiful piano and violin solos somewhere between Debussy and Vaughan Williams Although primarily written to support the Oscar Wilde prose these two main musical items would make a wonderful release without the narrative which though good would pale from repeated listening unlike the superb music However the CD is worth buying just for the

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/wilde-fairy-tales.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    Diaboliques and Vertigo The latest film comes courtesy of French filmmaker Jean Paul Salomé whose previous feature was an updated version of Belphégor Le fantôme du Louvre taken from the fantasy adventure novel by Leblanc s contemporary Arthur Bernède 1971 1937 Where that film had a score by French composer Bruno Coulais this time musical duties have fallen to England s Debbie Wiseman who has excelled herself given her first opportunity to write a really large scale blockbuster scale romantic action score Wiseman has always had a fine facility for melody and this does not desert her here The result is a thrilling 70 minute powerhouse of Gothic adventure scoring for chorus and orchestra expert brass and percussion writing to the for which like the film itself and indeed like the recent Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow scored by Edward Shearmur pays homage to film music s past while retaining a modern sensibility The album opens with a song co written by Wiseman and performed by the enigmatically named M Mathieu Chedid which is something along the lines of a retro homage to Francois Lai s 1970 s retro homages to 1930 s French song complete with modern ish production including electric guitar Presumably this plays over the end titles of the film and while apparently out of keeping with the period of the film is rather more palatable than most current movie songs Then the score begins and as it unfolds two things rapidly become apparent First that it benefits greatly from the first class performances of an orchestra as august as the Royal Philharmonic Wiseman now works with the orchestra regularly and indeed gives concerts of her music with the RPO Second where much current blockbuster film music is all too generic here is music with real personality it can not be a coincidence that Wiseman orchestrated and conducted her music herself where so many film scores are produced in such desperate haste whole armies of orchestrators are employed giving the end result something of a homogenous sound regardless of the composer No such problems here as Wiseman delivers a very large scale score rich in themes from high adventure to all out Gothic fury and tender fairytale romance away from the action The Mask of Prince Sernine is a charming fantasy affair and The Ballroom is an expert waltz pastiche One might on occasion wonder what music the film was originally temp tracked with as similarities to the thunderous propulsive creation sequence music from Patrick Doyle s score for Kenneth Branagh s Mary Shelley s Frankenstein can be discerned in a cue such as Arsene et Beaumagnan magisterially swirling strings akin to Elliot Goldenthall s Alien3 make an appearance on occasion or we are swept along with an dynamism owning just a little to Danny Elfman s Batman or Adrian Johnson s Shackleton There are also suggestions of John Barry s Capsule in Space from You Only Live Twice in Le Grand Café and the lonely trumpet of Nino Rota s The Godfather waltz in the opening of Goodbye Mother and The Blue Lupin But whether the result of temp tracking or homages conscious or not these elements simply add to the rich mix of a score which is not in any case seeking to break barriers but cast an affectionate eye on the glory days of pulp adventure cinema Hence we are treated to the exotic use of cimbalom always effective for evoking espionage since the days of Barry s The IPCRESS File in both suspense and blistering action modes The Theft of the Crucifix is a set piece of rare ferocity which remains musically coherent and compelling throughout I could describe the disc track by track or save you time by saying the entire album is almost an embarrassment of elegant riches with every cue revealing fresh boldly conceived musical delights The melodic sensibility which gave us My Uncle Silas Wilde Tom s Midnight Garden Haunted and many more is still here but now is coupled with a new sense of scale grandeur and confidence which demonstrates the very impressive range and invention of Wiseman s compositional talent If it were not already clear with superb work ranging from Wilde to Warriors and most points between this disc should make it amply so that Wiseman is one of the finest most versatile melodically and technically accomplished film composers currently working Whether or not this is her best score or not will have to wait until the film is available for viewing in the UK but it has certainly resulted in her most enthralling score album to date the sort of sweeping epic romantic action writing which will surely win over converts who might have found previous scores from 5the composer too small or intimate for their liking There may not be the artistic seriousness of Warriors here but that is hardly the point as a listening experience the disc gives the greatest pleasure of any Wiseman score release to date Not only that but half way through November it is easily among the best of the couple of hundred new albums I ve heard so far in 2004 Despite his anonymity in the United States Arsène Lupin is a well known character in Europe Author Maurice Leblanc created Lupin in a series of twenty novels nearly a century ago and his popularity since has extended to various television series film adaptations and an anime series about Lupin s grandson in Japan The character is a gentleman thief who serves as France s combination of Batman Indiana Jones and James Bond A rogue trained by his father as a master of disguise and aristocratic manners he unlike his father vows not to kill anyone no matter the circumstances Falling in love and falling into involvement with perpetual plans of scheming royalists to re establish the French Monarchy Lupin leads a life of intrigue and extraordinary beauty in a Gothic environment of shades of black

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/arsenelupin.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    create an effect on the small screen simple lines delivered with feeling can be just as powerful When all the elements are in place the lighting the camerawork the sound affects anything is possible This is not about race said Ben Jago It is about love Exactly The transposition of the play from 16th Century Venice to contemporary London with a black police officer John Othello becoming Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police had seemed to put the issue of race centre Stage A sub plot without parallel in Shakespeare dealt with attempts to weed out racist bigotry from the Met It was good stuff with a sharp topical edge But as the hero became prey to obsessive jealousy you realised it was here in the dark recesses of the human heart that the real drama lay There were no rational grounds for Othello to believe that his wife was cheating his mind had been poisoned against her by his two faced deputy But when was love aver rational The tragedy which Shakespeare in his genius articulated and which Andrew Davies in his genius articulated for a new generation is that you can love someone marry them know every inch of

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/othello.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    This moral tale about the sins of the fathers and mothers with the strange humour that only siblings can display to each other reveals once again the great skills of director Lewis Gilbert who was 81 when filming started Based on a stage play by renowned playwright Shelagh Stephenson and almost entirely shot on location on the Isle of Man Before You Go is one of the best British films in years Debbie Wiseman s score is haunting and provides this beautifully made film an air of melancholy which it practically needed In addition to its great photography and editing this film is an actor s movie as you can see by the list of great players Julie Walters is just as admirable as always in her leading role and so are Whalley Hodge Hamilton and Cassidy John Hannah and Tom Wilkinson have little to do in their supporting roles this is a woman s movie too yet they are always convincing The movie s newcomers Jamie Sives André Schneider and Joanne Morley are definitely worth watching although their scenes are cut quite short and were entirely deleted for the US release Before You Go is although described as a

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/beforeyougo.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    assured in her performance as you d expect There s a gentle lyricism and intimacy in in every carefully chosen note Indeed she describes this album as the most personal she s ever done showing as it does her soundtrack work in its purest form the way it appears in her head without the bells and whistles The Verdict Wiseman can and often does make a bad film TV show worth watching hello Lesbian Vampire Killers She s one of the country s biggest composing talents and this album will be a perfectly mannered guest in your home Debbie Wiseman is one of Britain s most in demand composers for film and television and a glance through the list of titles on this CD surely confirms her pre eminence in this field of the arts Not only is she a gifted composer but she is also an accomplished arranger and conductor as well as being a fine pianist It is the last of these talents that comes to the fore in this new CD scheduled for release on 19 September allowing us to hear how composers originally conceive some of their greatest works on the piano before they are subjected

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/piano-stories.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    Hayley Westenra is the featured soloist in the score and her ageless vocal stands out against the resonating bellowing strings The theme is a lamentation for a devastated city and its people with an air of strength and triumph of spirit perhaps brought about by a strong horn presence later in the cue The theme is reprised at key moments in varying guises and these moments have the propensity to bring on goosebumps so affecting is the performance by Westenra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra From the second cue the ironically titled Granny s Cottage all hell breaks loose and the wild ride of Flood gets into gear The title suggests a sweet idyll but that s not the case with a whoosh of electronics the orchestra rages along with the water and key brass and string figures are unleashed Debbie admits in the album sleeve interview that she worked the strings quite hard and that shows here with a racing cascading string figure that becomes a mainstay of the album The brass section work wonders too and they are one of the absolute highlights of this score so urgent and unyielding is their presence They transform the flood water itself into a classic movie monster with ferocious growling horns and alike This seemingly unstoppable barrage continues across many cues with the composer introducing new rhythmic figures for strings and returning to them throughout The Raging Storm is a particularly exciting cue among many and ends with a persistently rising motif played out by percussion brass and strings that gets a fuller rendition in The Capital at a Standstill When the orchestra is given time to breathe the score focuses in on the human story that runs amongst the chaos These moments are given over largely to piano and woodwinds

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/flood.shtml (2016-02-16)
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  • Debbie Wiseman - reviews
    complexities of the narrative with a fully orchestral approach that humanises both the nineteenth and twentieth century conflicts and the persons caught up in them In a recent interview with Classic FM Wiseman spoke of the scale of the score and of the challenge inherent in evoking the heart of the series To this end the score is centred on a classic Wiseman creation for stately piano and full orchestra The Royal Philharmonic possessed of a somewhat bittersweet melancholy quality entirely appropriate for the production The use of this certifiably non Middle Eastern instrument serves to remind us of the British protagonists at the heart of the story but it also conveys a universal sound of sadness that can be applied to any of the characters British Middle Eastern or otherwise It is deployed fairly regularly to give a sense of backbone but even more compelling are the sections drawing on authentic local instrumentation In an interview with Classic FM Wiseman cites the use of the Oud the Duduk and various other instruments and she deploys them to hypnotic and compelling effect It s a side to the composer we don t get to hear too often and the smooth blend of the traditional fully orchestral sections and those more faithful to the geographical location of the series is brilliantly brought across Wiseman never sacrifices her lyrical sense of musicality even when the score steps into darker areas and this is one of her great strengths as a composer Throughout there is a distinct sense of musical storytelling and never once is there a sense Wiseman is deploying the music as wallpaper It s a work that takes commitment and time on part of the listener certainly more so than her more lyrical 90s works but by the time one

    Original URL path: http://debbiewiseman.co.uk/reviews/promise.shtml (2016-02-16)
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