Ooo! More music!
CD: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The (2008)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
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Walt Disney Records
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May 13, 2008

Tracks / Album Length:

22 / (67:25)


Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams

Special Notes:

20-page colour booklet / Enhanced-CD content: Photos, Theatrical Trailer

Comments :    

Even if one can't get into the dense mythology of the Narnia series, it's hard not to be moved by the grand, epic sound that was previously reserved for big historical epics and star-studded war films during the fifties and sixties, or the sci-fi epics of the seventies and eighties. That isn't to discount other films that required their own massive symphonic scope, but contemporary comic book films – such as the X-Men or Spider-Man – are rooted in the present or quasi-present day, making the fantasy genre perhaps the only one where composers can fuse musicology with classical scoring, and some modern tweaks.

Harry Gregson-Williams does include electronics in his second effort for the Narnia franchise, but the score is a very robust orchestral journey that has some stellar action cues. “Journey to the How,” for example, progresses from sweetness to a sense of danger, and then kicks into gear as rumbling percussion, ominous French horns, and string ostinati are folded into an increasing dense crescendo of danger, dotted by chorus before the cue quietly unwinds, and disintegrates in a sudden wail.

The composer's knack for crafting edgy electronic fusion scores using chopped up tonalities, fragmented rhythms, and switching to full-blooded orchestral writing is also evident in “The Duel,” which has some subtle electronic pulses and ambient harmonic arcs, and eventually moves towards a wonderful usage of low tones and coarse timbres: a bank of thick vibrato establishes the duel's rhythm, around which layers of brass shimmer and flare with increasing density, as does a wooden-synth tapping motif that fattens to accentuate the cue's tension peak.

The CD also includes 4 songs (smartly placed after the score) designed to help sell the CD. Hanne Hukkleberg's vocals in “Lucy” (ironically not used in the film) at least evoke the film's ethereal fantasy world, and the intimate instrumentation makes it the least pop-oriented among the quartet. “A Dance ‘Round the Memory Tree” by Oren Lavie is a halfway-classical piece with a lilting folk melody, but “The Call” (Regina Spektor) and “This is Home” (Switchfoot) are filler tunes, and are stylistically at odds with the score.

Disney's CD at least offers a good chunk of score (60 mins. worth), but undoubtedly fans will want a more complete album offering as much of Gregson-Williams' music as possible. The current album features a balance of meaty and dramatic cues, and Prince Caspian is a CD that should be played loud for optimum enjoyment.


© 2007 Mark R. Hasan

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