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Soundtrack review: Henry V (Patrick Doyle, 1989)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Soundtrack review: Henry V (Patrick Doyle, 1989)


It’s Patrick Doyle month in our Google+ community. This means I will listen to as much scores of  his as I can this month. Since he is one of my favorite composers, I’ve decided to take all of you along this ride during the month of October. It’s going to be a marathon: besides my usual review, each day I will be reviewing a Patrick Doyle score. I gives me great pleasure to start with his first ever score, Henry V, which is also his first collaboration with the brilliant Kenneth Brannagh from their unforgettable series of Shakespeare adaptations. “Henry V” is still regarded, 25 years later, as the best Shakespeare movie adaptation ever made.
Henry V doesn’t sound like a composer’s first work. It sounds rich and accomplished. It sounds like the work of a seasoned composer who really knows his strengths and who is having great fun writing this music. There’s no nervousness, no hesitation, the City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra trusts the composer and delivers an exceptional performance. 25 years later it still sounds fresh and exciting.
The opening theme is uplifting and joyous and a wonderful introduction to Patrick Doyle’s music. I nod my head listening to it, because I know where he is after all this time, and “Openning title-O! for a muse of fire” was a promise he keeps making good on.
“St Crispin´s day-The battle of Agincourt” is a symphony in itself, an over 14 minutes long cue that takes the listener on an exciting journey. This track makes me feel involved, part of whatever is going on, curious to hear what comes next, intrigued by the changes of pace, it’s like the orchestra is playing hide and seek with me. I loved this cue. “Non nobis, Domine”, one of the most famous cues from his career, is a religious chant, a track that makes you want to get up and swear allegiance to a king, no matter where you are.
My favorite piece of music on this score is “Upon the king”. It starts with a gentle flute and turns into a deep, sweeping cue fit for a king’s theme. It’s a melody of few instruments, but they build on each other into a waterfall of emotions….
“Henry V” truly is a Shakespearean score. It’s a wonderful score fit for the richness and depth needed from such an adaptation, and a great start of the collaboration between a gifted and brilliant director with a vision and a young and talented composer…
My ratings:
Cue rating: 85 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 51/59
Album excellence: 87%
Cues to listen to:
Opening title-O! for a muse of fire
The three traitors
The death of Falstaff
Once more into the breach
The threat ti the governor of Harfleur
The death of Bardolph
Upon the king
St Crispin´s day-The battle of Agincourt
The day is yours
Non nobis, Domine
Let this accpetance take
End title
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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