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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The Secret of Moonacre
Music by Christian Henson
MovieScore Media MMMS09006
26 Tracks 64:41 mins

This recent fantasy offering from Bridge to Terabithia director Gabor Csupo stars Ioan Gruffudd, Tim Curry and Natascha McElhone, and is based on Elizabeth Goudge's award-winning children's book The Little White Horse.
Composer of the symphonic score (conducted incidentally by composer-in-his-own-right Paul Englishby) is by a relatively new name to me, Christian Henson, but apparently he has written music for many British TV shows like Top Gear and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, has assisted composers like Anne Dudley, Dario Marianelli, Patrick Doyle and the Gregson-Williams brothers on a variety of film scores, and written the Ivor Novello Award nominated score to 2007's Severance. With all this body of work, it's amazing he has largely thus far slipped under my radar.
The score's "Opening Titles" start rather ominously, but quickly build to epic orchestral/choral heights, before taking on something of a dream-like quality with solo female voice, piano and flutes. The playful "The Journey to Moonacre" follows, complete with finger snaps and and what sounds like a bit of Bavarian thigh slapping thrown in. Things take a darker turn with the brief action of "Robin Attacks," giving way to the serene "Arrival at Moonacre," the magical quality continuing in "Into the Book," which was co-written by Adam Balazs, who also had a hand in "Apology Tango" and "Love Waltz."
"Marmaduke Scarlet" is largely a comical affair, breezy and a little slapsticky; the mood changing considerably for the luminous beauty of "Maria's Room." The darkness returns with the menacing "Into the Forest;" the subsequent "The Moonraker Curse" also ending dramatically.
The flute-lead "Milk and Cookies" restores some lightness to proceedings, but gives way to the flowing "Running from Moonacre," this in turn giving way to the mysterious "Loveday;" the mood continuing into "The 5,000th Moon," where the tinkling piano and female voice from the "Opening Titles" return, before a big, menacing ending.
The brief piano, flute and cello of "I'm Glad That You're Back," restores a little lightness, before the menacing action of "Maria is Captured." The magic returns, along with the female voice and an expressive cello in "The Two Moon Princesses," and then its action and suspense aplenty in "Maria Escapes." The aforementioned "Apology Tango" follows, with featured parts for cello and violin, and then the purposeful "Setting the Bait" and "The Search Begins," followed by more menacing action in "Robin and Wrolf are Captured."
Serenity is briefly restored with "Little White Horse Leads On," but this quickly gives way to anxious action in "Chase Through the Forest." The suspenseful "Back Where it all Began" follows, and then the weighty "Maria's Sacrifice." A kind of ethereal lament follows at the start of "Sea Horses," but the female voice takes on a harsher quality, accompanied by a war-like drumbeat as the track builds to its conclusion.
"Love Waltz" is initially a charming interlude for piano and strings, but the track turns somewhat bittersweet at its conclusion. However, "All's Well That Ends Well" ends the score on an optimistic note, after one or two ominous intrusions, and even a little light comedy, the main theme soaring at its conclusion.
The album, available on CD from the likes of Screen Archives, and as a download from iTunes, concludes with Sky's rendition of "Stars," co-written by Henson and Caroline Lost, a song which seems vaguely familiar to me from somewhere.
In conclusion, it's nice to see a lesser known composer given what must have been a fairly big budgeted film like this to score, and Henson has done a capable job here. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.


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