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The Lion in Winter; Impeccable reading of classic score

Tuesday, 01 January 2002 14:24

James Southall

The Lion in Winter is a highly literate, intelligent movie set in France in 1138: starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn, it tells the story of how Eleanor, wife of King Henry II, seeks revenge on her husband as he releases her temporarily from prison in order to name his heir to the throne from his three sons; meanwhile, they are busy plotting against each other. John Barry was already well-known by the time, having scored many Bond movies and Born Free, but must still have seemed like a strange choice to score the movie: a highly classical and refined score was required for the movie, something Barry hadn't really written up to that point. He blew away any misconceptions with his brilliant work on the movie, and deservedly won an Oscar for his troubles.

The score features by far Barry's most extensive use of choral music set to lyrics: the opening choral theme is his most portentous, and the choral writing of other cues such as "Allons Gai Gai Gai", "Eya, eya, nova gaudia" and "Media vita in morte sumus" features much variety but a consistent beauty and relevant dramatic thrust. While not up front, the chorus is still usually heard behind the orchestra, and the dramatic piece "To Rome" is nothing short of stunning, becoming one of the most influential pieces Barry has written (though it is rarely acknowledged as such). In my opinion "We're All Jungle Creatures", the finale, is the ultimate piece of Barry film music, beyond comparison with anything else he has written: he wraps up the score with one last use of the heraldic fanfare from his main theme and throws the choir into the mix for an astonishing climax.

The score has been released twice on CD before, both by Varèse Sarabande in the early days of CDs and later by Sony Legacy in 1995. Sound quality was not the best and so Silva Screen decided to augment their growing Barry collection still further, with a re-recording of the entire score, featuring the few minutes of music from the movie that did not appear on the original release. (Most notable among the "new" music is "Fanfare for Philip / The Great Hall Feast" - certainly a welcome inclusion.) I'm pleased to say that both the City of Prague Philharmonic and Crouch End Festival Chorus have done themselves proud with a superb performance, marvellously captured in the detailed recording by engineers John Timperley and Mike Ross-Trevor. Film scores don't get much better than this, and re-recordings don't get any better than this.

Also featured on the album is a 15-minute suite from Mary, Queen of Scots , another period score by Barry. Sadly it has never been released on CD in any form and therefore it would have been nice to have had a lengthier reconstruction, but we should be grateful for what we are offered and this suite is a good representation of the score as a whole. Terry Walstrom's liner notes are a step above from the norm, and ultimately I can't recommend this album enough. A true classic.

James Southall

Read 8909 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:28
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PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

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John Barry related Events or Concerts

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A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!



Wiener Konzerthaus
Lothringerstraße 20, 1030 WIEN
(that's Vienna!)

Sonntag 3 Dezember 2017
19:30 Uhr
Großer Saal

Dieses Galakonzert lässt 53 Jahre Bond-Movies live und auf großer Kinoleinwand Revue passieren. Von John Barrys «Goldfinger», «Thunderball» und «Diamonds Are Forever» über «Licence To Kill», «A View To A Kill» und «Goldeneye» bis hin zu «Skyfall» und dem Song des bislang letzten Bond-Streifens, «Writings On The Wall». Spezielle Arrangements für großes Symphonieorchester garantieren neben den Star-Interpreten einen unvergesslichen Abend.

Am 2. und 3. Dezember 2017 werden die legendären Songs und Scores aus den Bond-Movies von den Star-Interpreten Maya Hakvoort, Nazide Aylin und Sandra Pires im Wiener Konzerthaus präsentiert. Dabei werden sie von einem großen Symphonieorchester, ergänzt durch Top-Instrumentalsolisten für den speziellen Bond-Sound, begleitet, während die berühmten Filmszenen auf eine Leinwand projiziert werden. Die Arrangements stammen vom musikalischen Leiter der Galakonzerte, Alex Johansson. Als besonderes Highlight wird Stargast Conchita ihre Lieblings-Bondsongs interpretieren.

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts
Sun 25th Feb 18 (7.30pm)
Victoria Halls, Stoke-On-Trent
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/victoriahall

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts
Sun 11th Mar 18
The Woodville, Gravesend
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/thewoodville

 Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 25th Mar 18 (6pm)
King's Theatre, Southsea, Portsmouth
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/kingstheatre

 Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Wed 4th Apr 18
Southport Theatre
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/southporttheatre

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 8th Apr 18
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/waterside

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 6th May 18
New Victoria Hall, Woking
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/newvictoria