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Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra
by C. Burwell, H. Shore, A. Desplat

Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra

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Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra (Soundtrack) by C. Burwell, H. Shore, A. Desplat
Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra (Soundtrack) by C. Burwell, H. Shore, A. Desplat
Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra (Poster and Memorabilia)










Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra (Soundtrack) by C. Burwell, H. Shore, A. Desplat

Music from the Twilight Saga for Chamber Orchestra
Composed by C. Burwell, H. Shore, A. Desplat
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 5/10

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“For the average film score collector, [this release] will give you a meaningful and even sampling of the music from the Twilight Saga.”

Team Compilation or Team Original?
Review by Helen San

MUSIC FROM THE TWILIGHT SAGA FOR CHAMBER ORCHESTRA (MTSCO) is a new compilation produced by the label BSX Records (owned by Buy Soundtrax, a retail outlet catering to hardcore soundtrack fans). Right away, you know this album is made for die-hard fans. But in this case, it is geared more toward die-hard fans of the Twilight Saga, known as “twihards”. Yes, you heard right. They’re called twihards.

In case you’ve been living on a deserted island, the Twilight Saga is a series of films based on four books (TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, ECLIPSE, and BREAKING DAWN) about a young woman named Bella and her love triangle between a vampire named Edward and a werewolf named Jason. The triangle is crux of the legend, with Twilight fandom splitting into two factions: Team Edward and Team Jason. There have been four movies so far, with one more to go. There is one movie per book except for the fourth book. BREAKING DAWN is split into two films (a la HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS), with PART 1 released in November 2011, and PART 2 to be released in November 2012.

The scores for the four released movies are as follows:


The story is filled with adolescent angst, lovelorn torment, and bittersweet pining. It is a perfect recipe for the kind of beleaguered, romantic melancholy CARTER BURWELL likes to compose. Indeed, twilighters apparently agreed and petitioned for CARTER BURWELL to return to the franchise after the project went to DESPLAT and SHORE for the second and third films respectively. I have to agree that while DESPLAT’s and parts of SHORE’s music were more melodious and easier to listen to, BURWELL’s pain-filled score resonated much better with the emotional core of the saga. It works better in the film. It works better on album to evoke the memories and essence of the Saga.

Book and movie-wise, I am nowhere near being a twihard, or even a regular twilighter. However, as a film music enthusiast, I have found the music compelling enough to spend good money on all four of the original Saga scores. The new titles of the compilation match the originals, track for track. So I was well able to compare this album to the previous works.

Selecting the most romantic tracks from the first three films (TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, and ECLIPSE), classical pianist and composer DAN REDFELD re-orchestrated and rearranged it for a chamber orchestra. I think the intention behind the chamber orchestra idea was to make the music more personal, romantic, and intimate. One thing that did work to add personality was including a rapturous harmonic vocalise by soprano Kristi Holden in some of the cues. The rest might have worked, if the small string section and piano hadn’t repeatedly overwhelmed the rest of the instruments. It felt, instead, a little like loud, in-your-face intimacy.

More importantly, it lost the original, grander soundscape. It lost the complex emotional layers beyond mere romance (such as doubt and suspense). I expected this loss from the more sophisticated orchestral material of Desplat and Shore. But the loss was felt keenly even with the somewhat simpler compositions of Burwell. There is simply no competition between MTSCO and the original albums. Hands down, the originals win.

The one exception was “Jacob’s Theme” (17). In the original ECLIPSE album, Jacob’s theme was found in a track called “Jacob Black,” which was a subdued and quiet piano solo. In the new arrangement, it was exquisitely performed by both strings and piano. Another improvement, in a sense, is “Wedding Plans” (18). The original “Wedding Plans” tacked a song at the end of SHORE’s cue. The new performance gave us a score-only version. As matter of fact, all three SHORE tracks on MTSCO did an excellent job representing the best of SHORE’s ECLIPSE.

The selection of music for the compilation was pretty on target. They featured all the main and best themes such as BURWELL’s “Bella’s Lullaby” (1), DESPLAT’s “New Moon” (10), and SHORE’s “Jacob’s Theme” (17). Sure, they didn’t pick some of my favorite BURWELL action cues, but “Skin of a Killer” would have been disturbingly out of place on a romance-centered compilation. They really did find all the right tracks, and the best tracks, to put the heart and soul of the Twilight Saga in a bottle.

In distilling the Saga to its musical essence, the album reveals an unexpected pattern. It is hard to compare music by three different composers with very distinctive styles and see any similarity. But when you select the core tracks and have them all performed by the same small orchestra, there is a consistency and continuity I hadn’t heard before in the original albums. I can hear the emotions of conflicted love and apprehensive hope behind the same whining violins and wistful piano. I can hear DESPLAT and SHORE, in their own way, following the mood set by BURWELL; there is probably no stronger temp track for sequels than the first movie. The new arrangements provide a nearly seamless listening experience of three very disparate styles, which would not be possible by piecing together the original tracks.

The last advantage of this album is three new cues (one per composer) not on the original scores. A more upbeat and percussive rendition of BURWELL’s “Bella’s Lullaby” is added as a bonus track: “Bella's Lullaby (How Bella Got Her Groove Back)” (20). “The Meadow” (9) is a higher pitched version of DESPLAT’s “New Moon” theme, with a gorgeous piano phrase at the beginning. Although this phrase is very short (seconds long), it is not easily accessible on the NEW MOON album. Its inclusion here is a delight, especially for devotees. “Finale (Jacob’s Theme Reprise)” (19) is likewise a more fleshed out version of SHORE’s Jacob’s theme. All three themes are truly outstanding, so any expanded versions are a treat.

A couple of final notes: my rating for each cue has been biased by my opinion that I have heard better versions elsewhere. The ratings for the same cues on the originals would be much higher. Also, I want to note that though Burwell’s score is more dissonant and earns a lower rating as a listening experience, it has a stronger emotional fit on screen that is not reflected well by the ratings themselves.

I heartily recommend buying all the original albums over this compilation. Then make a playlist using MTSCO’s track titles, because BSX really did strike gold in their selections. But if you can afford it, buy this compilation as well--for the better version of “Jacob’s Theme,” the truncated “Wedding Plans,” and the three new versions of the core themes.

Is this compilation worth getting if you are not crazy about Twilight and/or Carter Burwell’s doleful atonality? I think so, especially if you aren’t going to buy any original albums. DESPLAT’s “New Moon” theme is a must-have that belongs in the Epic Love Theme Hall of Fame, with or without vampire/werewolf love triangles. SHORE’s best tracks are also found on MTSCO. For the average film score collector, MTSCO will give you a meaningful and even sampling of the music from the Twilight Saga.

Rating: 5/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
  Twilight by Carter Burwell    
1 Bella's Lullaby 2:21  ****
2 Phascination Phase 2:00  **
3 I Dreamt of Edward 1:09  **
4 The Lion Fell in Love with the Lamb 3:20  ***
5 I Would be the Meal 1:25  **
6 Stuck Here Like Mom 1:42  **
7 In Place of Someone You Love 1:14  **
8 Dinner with the family/ Edward at Her Bed 1:49  **
  New Moon by Alexandre Desplat    
9 The Meadow: Theme...New Moon (for piano and violin) 4:30  ****
10 New Moon 3:24  ****
11 I Need You 1:43  **
12 Volturi Waltz 2:57  **
13 You're Alive/ Memories of Edward 4:29  ***
14 Adrenaline 3:11  ***
15 Marry Me Bella 4:00  ***
16 Full Moon 3:22  ***
  Eclipse by Howard Shore    
17 Jacob's Theme - Instrumental 2:37  ****
18 Wedding Plans 3:08  ***
19 Finale (Jacob's Theme Reprise) 2:39  ****
  Twilight by Carter Burwell    
20 Bella's Lullaby (How Bella Got Her Groove Back) 3:51  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  


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