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Sunday, March 22, 2009


Young Victoria
Music by Ilan Eshkeri
EMI 50999697622 (EU)
21 Tracks 51:44 mins

This biopic of the Queen Victoria we seldom hear about, her younger self and her romance with the love of her life, Prince Albert, comes with quite a pedigree, having the likes of Martin Scorsese and the Duchess of York among its producers; and Julian Fellowes as its writer.
The music is by Ilan Eshkeri, best known thus far for his work on the fantasy Stardust, and is expertly performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, with notable instrumental and vocal solos. Within his score, he weaves much material from the classical repertoire, including works by Handel, Strauss, Schubert, Dvorak, Donizetti and Purcell, and so skilfully is it done that at times it's hard to tell where Eshkeri starts and the classical pieces leave off. This of course makes for a frustrating listening experience for those of us interested in original scoring only, and perhaps therefore doesn't make as lasting impression as it might have done, worthy though it may all be.
Original themes that do emerge however, and are given their head particularly in the later tracks, are the rather innocent, yet tinged with sadness, piano-lead theme for the title character, a somewhat versatile theme for Albert, and the love theme, which is given plenty of workouts, though you're likely to end up humming Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy," rather than this, due to its opening bars' similarity to the opening of that pop classic. The theme is given lyrics as "Only You" over the final track of the album, and performed by Sinead O'Connor on something of an off day.
Very little drama is on display, though "Riot" provides some welcome energy.
In conclusion, I really wanted to like this score, and certainly enjoyed it more from track 15 onwards, once the classical excerpts had ceased to intrude. Recommended with obvious reservations.


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