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Friday, August 22, 2008


Brideshead Revisited
Music by Adrian Johnston
Chandos CHAN 10499 (UK)
24 Tracks 47:19 mins

This new cinematic adaptation, by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies, of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited comes some 27 years after the hugely popular Granada Television series, which made household names of so many of the cast. The current version is obviously hugely condensed in order to bring to the big screen and stars Matthew Goode, Anna Madeley and Ben Whishaw, well supported by more famous names like Emma Thompson, Patrick Malahide, Michael Gambon and Greta Scacchi. Directed by Julian Jarrold, it was a pretty foregone conclusion that Adrian Johnston would write the music, having collaborated with the director on numerous projects. What was not such a foregone conclusion, was that Chandos Records would release the soundtrack. The label has released some excellent re-recorded compilations of classic British film music and it is great to see them venture into the world of current soundtrack releases. I hope it's not a one-off, as much great British screen music fails to go unrecorded (particularly for the small screen) and any enterprising label, such as Chandos, could go a ways towards filling the gap.
Performed by the BBC Philharmonic, who have performed so admirably on so many of the aforementioned Chandos compilations, under the baton of Terry Davies, Johnston's score is filledwith themes and motifs representing the characters and their relationships. The flowing "Sebastian" theme opens the disc, in an arrangement for solo piano; followed by the continually reaching "Memory" theme. "Guilt" is filled with regret, but ends more positively. "Oxford" follows and is filled with an eager sense of anticipation. "A Crock of Gold" continues the optimistic feel, as does "Arcadia." "That First Visit" moves expectantly along, propelled by piano, turning somewhat hesitant, before continuing to its conclusion. "Faith" is suitably reverent; whilst "Venice" receives a European feel, with almost a Spanish sensibility, and echoes of gypsy violin. "The Lido" reprises Sebastian's theme, in an orchestral arrangement; and is followed by the expectant "Carnival." "Desire" is filled with urgent, passionate piano and string writing, followed by the exquisite piano and strings of "Contra Mundum." "Mid Atlantic Jungle" has a sad, yearning quality; with the "Memory" theme returning in "Between Dreaming and Waking," along with a hint of "Sebastian,"which also features in "Orphans of the Storm." Intense and quite tragic string writing for "Rex" follows, and then "Near Escape" presents anxious variations on "Sebastian." Calm is restored with "The End Of Our Day," with an echo of the "Venice" theme to conclude. The final cues, the nostalgic, ever-rising "A Small Red Flame" and "Always Summer," a piano and orchestra arrangement of "Sebastian," bring the music to a satisfying close.
To conclude, another gorgeous, melodic score from Adrian Johnston, beautifully played, recorded and presented, accompanied as it is by an elegant, glossy booklet of 24 pages, featuring numerous colour stills from the film, plus notes from Jeremy Brock and the composer, together with profiles of the latter, the orchestra and its conductor.
Already available in the States, the Brideshead Revisited soundtrack will be released in the UK next month, at which time you will be able to order your copy from


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