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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 14960 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.

Contact the JB site

If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

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Geoff (owner) and Ruud (webmaster) have been running the John Barry website since June 18, 2001.

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John Barry related Events or Concerts

Submit your Event or Concert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will not be responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.

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!

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)

The Music of BondThe Music of Bond
Royal Albert Hall
Wednesday 19 September 2018
Starts: 7:30pm


Presented by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace). Over fifty years of timeless James Bond themes from all your favourite 007 films.

Hits from Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Spectre, From Russia with Love to name just a few, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Gareth Hudson Conductor
Alison Jiear Vocalist
Matthew Ford Vocalist

James Bond fans are in for a treat in January 2019, as renowned Band, the popular Q The Music Show, are putting on a special concert - performing all the music from Moonraker on

26th January 2019

at the

Wycombe Swan Concert Hall,
High Wycombe,
United Kingdom.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

They are drafting in professional musicians from London to create a 100-piece Orchestra and Choir to recreate all of John Barry’s iconic cues from the 1979 film. As there is only around 50 minutes of music in the film, they will perform the best of the James Bond songs in the second half in true Q The Music style, but with full orchestra.

Because of the nature of this concert, and the huge costs involved, they are crowd funding it, so tickets have to be purchased by 6th May this year for the concert to go ahead on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Q The Music Show are popular with James Bond fans all around the World thanks to their dedicated and authentic versions of the music and were chosen to perform at Sir Roger Moore’s Memorial Event at Pinewood Studios in October last year. The concert will be compered by Bond girls Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro, who have been working with Q The Music this year on their theatre tour of the UK.

The concert will not be available to buy on recording after the show, and the Moonraker score has never been performed live, so this is a unique opportunity for fans to see it. If the project is a success, Q The Music plan to go on a do a different Barry/Bond score each year.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

*Please note, this is a music only performance – no images or footage from the film will be shown, and Q The Music are not associated with EON, Danjaq LLC, or the James Bond Films in any way.

Warren Ringham
Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
The London Showband - Party & Covers Band