The Queen/Desplat

October 16, 2006

 

The Queen, which is distributed by Miramax in the US, is a story about the handling of the death of Princess Diana by the royal family and the role that the newly elected Tony Blair had to play in this.The Steven Frears directed film stars Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, and Micheal Sheen. Given the extreme popularity of Princess Diana the film should catch on at the box office. It has already achieved awards at the Venice Film Festival for Mirren and Peter Morgan’s screenplay.

The score is by Alexandre Desplat who first attracted attention in the US with his score to Girl With A Pearl Earring in 2003. Since then he has done scores to Birth, Hostage, Firewall, Syriana, and Casanova in addition to French filming assignments. He appears to have attracted the attention of Hollywood filmmakers and will continue to get the lucrative filming assignments. Alexandre is such a refreshing breath of fresh air from the electronic pounding of so many of todays scores.

The score to the The Queen is overall quite a modern style classical sounding work, fairly somber as it should be but quite diverse in the (16) offered tracks. One might think that a bit of Vaughan Williams might find its way into the scores giving it a bit of the older British style but Desplat found none of that necessary and has come up with his own statement. The CD begins with a proud majestic unfolding of “The Queen” theme complete with harp which is followed by a hint of the harpsichord. This theme is also repeated in a similiar fashion in “H.R.H.”. “Hills Of Scotland” and “The Stag” feature a different theme beginning with an oboe to set the melody and then it is allowed to be developed by the flutes, violins, harpsichord, and french horn. This is a nice well orchestrated piece. “People’s Princess I” and “People’s Princess 2” is a third theme but uses a constant pulsating electronic rhythm finally revealing the theme which is performed by the entire symphony. This theme is also used in “The Queen Drives” and “Queen of Hearts”. “Elizabeth and Tony” and “Tony and Elizabeth” is yet another theme which begins with strings plucking and the delicate harp and then it is more fully developed. “Mourning” is exactly as it should sound. The timpani playing in the background while the strings perform a funeral like piece. “The Flowers of Buckingham” begins with a taps like fanfare from the trumpet and then slides into a simple elegaic style melody. The concluding work is a wonderful 6+ minute from Verdi’s “Libra Me”, performed by Lynne Dawson and the BBC Singers, a piece done at the funeral service of one of the most loved women of the 20th century, Diana, Princess of Wales.

There is definitely something hypnotic to this score. Perhaps it is the electronic pulsating rhythm in “People’s Princess” or the theme for the Queen. Or the variety of the different themes and the use of the harpsichord and mandolin. Whatever is the case Desplat has fashioned yet another winner! This is fairly classical and somber in nature so it might not appeal to all of you. There are no loud action type tracks in it! It is not that kind of movie, far from it. The London Philharmonic under Desplat’s direction perform well. Alexandre is one of the few who chooses to do his own orchestrations and this one is no exception. In fact if at some point this would show up as a concert piece combining all of the themes with his orchestrations, it would make for a nice suite. If you are not familiar with his work this would be a very nice one to start with. Recorded on Milan Records (M2-36185) it is available from Screen Archives Entertainment. Recommended.

Track listing

1. The Queen (02:09)

2. Hills Of Scotland (02:26)

3. People’s Princess I (04:08)

4. A New Prime Minister (01:55)

5. H.R.H. (02:23)

6. The Stag (01:50)

7. Mourning (03:51)

8. Elizabeth & Tony (02:05)

9. River Of Sorrow (02:00)

10. The Flowers Of Buckingham (02:29)

11. The Queen Drives (01:48)

12. Night In Balmoral (01:09)

13. Tony & Elizabeth (02:05)

14. People’s Princess II (04:08)

15. Queen Of Hearts (03:34)

16. Libera Me (06:28)

performed by Lynne Dawson & The BBC Singers at the funeral service for Diana… *Princess of Wales*

Total Duration: 00:44:28

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