Put Christopher Gunning into the category of being one of great talent and little appreciation and recognition over the years. He has composed symphonies and concertos, worked with such artists as Phil Woods, Mel Torme, and John Williams, the classical guitarist, and currently is working with Chandos (CD 10525) on recording his major works, having already completed two of his symphonies and an Oboe concerto written for and performed by his daughter. Look for further releases in the future.


His theme from Poirot is likely the most recognizable one he wrote and “Poirot Variants” for alto saxophone and orchestra features a wonderful theme variations concerto on the melody that is especially clear and concise with the 24-bit/96kHz recording. You feel like you’re in the same room with the saxophonist Martin Robertson who featured in the 9 minute track. This work should be a standard for pops orchestras. Christopher worked on nearly 40 of the Poirot films so he had plenty of opportunity to experiment. A breath of fresh air and comes highly recommended. If you want further Poirot Virgin Records #VTCD8 has a release with an hour of material.


“The Rosemary and Thyme Caprice” theme for the TV series about two lady gardeners turned detective gives reference to the Simon and Garfunkel hit without losing its personality. The classical guitar of Craig Ogden with delicate plucking, along with horn and flute to complement provide a quiet sleepy eyed very easy to listen to track.


“Rebecca” (1997) is tragic drama featuring a solo cello playing the theme of the Daphne du Maurier novel. It is interesting to compare Newman and Gunning. The elegy is played nicely by Julia Bradshaw as she tells the story with her string playing. Drama and romance are the key words for this track.


“When the Whales Came” is one of the earlier film scores of Gunning and it is a good one. One can feel the sea and hear the whales talking to each other in this short Debussy like suite that is further enhanced by a solo soprano beckoning one to the ocean. A very nice track. This complete score is available for purchase on the Silva label #FILMCD049.


“Cold Lazarus” is a science fiction adventure and this track is the only one on the CD that I would consider a somewhat loud action track suite in parts that makes a reference to Star Trek with a calling out from the majestic horns. I’m happy to say that though loud it contains no synthesizer clanking and noise and is just a full crescendo from the orchestra.


“La Mome Piaf” (2007), the story of Edith Piaf, is a wonderful track with laid back accordion material complemented by the strings and the soprano voice of Nicole Tibbels. This track definitely conjures up thoughts of the French countryside on a quiet summer afternoon. It dissolves into tragedy and ends as upbeat bright waltz. Again very nicely done and recommended.


This Chandos release is a wonderful way to introduce you to 12 tracks from this extremely talented composer, who also wrote the liner notes giving further insight into the performed material. While it is not for all as some will find much of the  music too droopy eyed by comparing it to some of the scores today. Desplat probably comes close in being similar. I found this CD to be one of my favorite releases for 2010. Highly recommended! While you’re at it why not consider picking up the Chandos CD10525 which offers two symphonies and his daughter playing his oboe concerto. In my humble opinion the majority if not all of the Chandos Movie releases are like gold and should belong in your soundtrack collection. You’ll be introduced to composers you’re not familiar with and works that will be new to your ears.


Chandos CD10625







Track listing

1. Poirot Variants for alto saxophone and orchestra (08:53)
Martin Robertson saxophone
2. La Môme Piaf (La vie en rose) (06:17)
Matthew Compton accordion, Nicole Tibbels soprano
3. Under Suspicion (07:00)
4. Cold Lazarus (10:15)
5. The Rosemary and Thyme Caprice (03:59)
Craig Ogden guitar
6. Rebecca (06:38)
Julia Bradshaw cello
7. Pollyanna (06:17)
8. Firelight (07:14)
9. When the Whales Came (07:12)
Nicole Tibbels soprano
10. The Hollow (03:14)
Episode of Poirot
11. Five Little Pigs (03:33)
Episode of Poirot. Yuri Torchinsky violin
12. Lighthouse Hill (04:27)

Total Duration: 01:14:59