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Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The King's Speech
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Decca Records 476 4198 (EU)
14 Tracks 45:17 mins

French composer Alexandre Desplat seems to have become the composer of choice when it comes to scoring films dealing with the British throne, what with The Queen and now The King's Speech, a movie that is already receiving much attention even in advance of its release on 7th January, thanks of course to its Golden Globe nominations, as well as its triumph at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, The People's Choice Award, Hamptons International Film Award and a Hollywood Award. The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI, who of course suffered a terrible stammer, and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist who helped him overcome it.
Desplat's score was recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios, utilising the very microphones through which the King used to give his speeches, bearing the royal coat of arms and insignia. Director of Engineering Peter Cobbin said of the use of these: "It was one thing for us to enjoy the visual presence of these rare microphones, but then quite another to hear the sonic tone and unique quality which wrapped and enveloped the score inside Abbey Road's Studio One."
For those of you who may be Strictly Come Dancing fans, you may be interested to know that piano is featured prominently in Desplat's score and the solos were performed by no less than Dave Arch, a name you will be familiar with for his excellent musical direction of the show.
The album opens with the restrained warmth of "Lionel and Bertie," tinkling piano joining strings to take it to its conclusion. The main theme follows in the title track, a flowing, happy and lightly purposeful piano-lead piece, which gives way to a much more uncertain, one could even say stammering conclusion. "My Kingdom, My Rules" follows, beginning uncertainly but then taking flight on piano. "The King is Dead" is suitably tragic, whilst "Memories of Childhood" is again an unhappy affair, full of self-doubt and uncertainty.
"King George VI" is no more confident to start with, but duty calls and the music assumes a certain nobility, for a time at least. The main theme, in its best and most complete incarnation, makes a welcome return in "The Royal Household," before more uncertainty in "Queen Elizabeth," despite some moments of warmth and sympathy. "Fear and Suspicion" follows and expands up on a John Barryish feel introduced at the conclusion of the previous track, with the main theme struggling to be heard and then eventually breaking free.
The penultimate track of Desplat's music, "The Rehearsal," builds expectantly to a quite joyous conclusion, but has to give way to darker matters and "The Threat of War," which closes the score in nervous anticipation of what is to come.
Another admirable effort from Desplat, who has overcome something of a gimmicky start to his international career to become a mature and dependable presence on whatever production comes his way.
In addition to Desplat's music, the album concludes with two pieces by Beethoven and one by Mozart, used to accompany especially dramatic moments in the film.
The soundtrack to The King's Speech will be released in the UK on 3rd January.


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