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A Christmas Carol (Soundtrack) by Stephen Warbeck

Tracksounds Rating = 7/10

A Christmas Carol (Soundtrack) by Stephen Warbeck

Composed by Stephen Warbeck
Arranged, Orchestrated and Conducted by Randy Miller
Released by Geffen Records 1993

Track Title Time Rating Warbeck and the Christmas Classic
by Christopher Coleman

Hot off the heals of his Academy Award winning score for Shakespeare in Love- one, I admit, took me some time to fully appreciate – composer Stephen Warbeck delivers a similarly inspiring score for the television film, A Christmas Carol, starring Patrick Stewart.  First Shakespeare and now Charles Dickens?  Warbeck doesn't seem to mess around with the stories he composes for.    The classic British Christmas tale deserved nothing less than an accomplished British Scrooge as well as composer.  They both deliver their special gifts…as has Varese Sarabande in their release of the score.

There have been about one dozen full length film adaptations of this classic tale, produced for the theatre and television.  Because of this, my initial reaction was with a measure of resistance.  Just how many times can a story be retold.  However, finding out that Patrick Stewart was playing the lead role, changed my reaction completely.  Finding out that Stephen Warbeck was the composer delighted me even further.

Warbeck is able to capture the darkness and light of this story, the greed and the giving, the Christmas Spirit and its antithesis.  As we travel with Picard…err Scrooge and the three mystical guides, discovering the history of this bitter man, Warbeck’s score adds even more depth to each successive scene.  While all of it is not that engaging a part for the film context, the moments of music  reflecting Scrooge's introspection and transformation are easily appreciated in and of themselves.

Scrooge’s recollection of his life as a young clerk  brings a terrific celtic touch to  several tracks towards  the middle of the CD.  Track 8, Fran’s Tune, track 10, Fezzi Wig’s Party.   In addition Warbeck includes a celtic element in a few other tracks such as the solo flute beginning of The First Noel/ The Workhouse (track 18).

One can easily hear textures and layers of music similar to Shakespeare in Love in a number of tracks: track 9, Arrival at Fezziwig’s, track 20, The Ghost of Christmas Future, track 22, Little Child, track 23, Death, track 24, A Merry Christmas (which tips its hat to Deck the Halls).

There are several traditional Christmas carols that are incorporated into the film and have made their way onto the soundtrack.  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The First Noel, O Little Town of BethlehemThe First Noel is the most appealing of the bunch.  The others deliver vocal performances that were really made to be heard in the movie's context.  Out side of this, they are less than stunning.

The George C. Scott performance of Scrooge has been a favorite of mine for some time, but now this latest version comes close to supplanting it as number one.  Stephen Warbeck's score certainly adds to its appeal.  While not as entertaining track for track as Shakespeare in Love, there are several moments worth listening to year-round.

 


 Audio Clip

Track 22 - Little Child 

1 Funeral 1:14 ***
2 Walking Home 2:16 ***
3 O' Little Town of Bethlehem 1:29 ***
4 Marley's Ghost 1:02 **
5 Torture of Remorse 1:41 **
6 Wandering Ghosts 2:45 ***
7 The Ghost of Christmas Past/ School  2:01 ***
8 Fran's Tune 0:29 ****
9 Arrival at Fezziwig's  0:42 ****
10 Fezziwig's Party 6:35 ***
11 Scrooge Alone 1:56 ****
12 Haunt Me No Longer 0:41 ***
13 Touch My Robe 1:00 ***
14 Fear For Tim 0:58 ***
15 Silent Night 2:22 **
16 Scrooge Reappears 0:27 ***
17 Fran's Piano 0:54 ***
18 The First Noel/ The Workhouse 1:11 ***
19 Ignorance and Want 1:14 ***
20 The Ghost of Christmas Future 1:02 ***
21 The Corpse 1:58 **
22 Little Child 1:03 ****
23 Death 2:52 ***
24 A Merry Christmas 1:07 ***
25 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 1:01 **
26 Topper's Song 0:50 **
27 Christmas Polka 0:53 **
28 A Different Side to Scrooge 1:24 ****
29 The End 1:04 ***
  Total Playing Time 44:00    

Category

Score

 

Music Selection

7  
 Originality 6  

Themes/ Composition

6  

CD Length

7  

Track Order

6  

Performance

7  

Final Score

7  
         

Other reviews:

Warbeck's approach is concentrating more on the dark elements of the story, rather than creating a christmas atmosphere. However, a lot of source music on the album help creating a genuine setting for the story - there is quite a lot of jigs and polkas, performed by a smaller group of players. It's a rather charming aspect of this album, but I feel that the listening experience becomes somewhat fragmentary due to the wild mix of orchestral, atmospheric scoring and jolly dance cues.
  

Mikael Carlsson - Music from the Movies

Composer Stephen Warbeck
Composer
Stephen Warbeck

A Christmas Carol (Soundtrack) by Stephen Warbeck
All artwork from Heaven and Earth is exclusive property of Geffen Records (c) 1993.  Its appearance is for imformational purposes only.