Film scores

Soundtrack review: Far from the madding crowd (Craig Armstrong – 2015)

Cover

“Far from the madding crowd” is the latest adaptation of a classical love story about the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene who attracts three very different suitors: a sheep farmer, a Sergeant and a prosperous and mature bachelor. The story explores her choices and passions and the nature of relationships and love. Craig Armstrong is one of the composers I always list as my favorites. He’s constantly delivered great scores and I’ve listened to almost all of them. His scores are a special brand of emotional and his orchestral compositions are usually deep and meaningful. He respects music and I can always hear that. I remember his violin rich score for “The Clearing” as my favorite.

And violin I get as the score opens… Wow, is this Hillary Hahn I’m hearing? I could swear the magic and magnificent sounds I hear in “Opening” come from James Newton Howard’s “The village”. Can that rare, even unique score have a companion now on that lonely top of an emotion mountain? This is the kind of cue which wraps itself around my heart from the first seconds and doesn’t loosen that grip for… well… ever. Hello there, cue I will always return to when I am in need to be enchanted and hypnotized. I need some time to recover from the goose bumps this cue has created.

I can slowly dive back into “Far from the madding crowd” because “Corn exchange” is another sweet and rich melody that evokes times of joy and celebration. Craig Armstrong’s versatility comes in play once again when “The great misunderstanding” uses a bunch of strings to suggest something playful yet still elegant, showing its beauty within the confines of the times when the story took place. Elegance and finesse are the words that come to mind as this score progresses. The echoes of that violin opening still linger but the music is different now. Craig Armstrong brings this classical story to life with his composition and I don’t need images to feel like I am living in those times. The music plays with me, it laughs, it frowns, it longs and I experience all those feelings with it.

I let the musical vines that Craig Armstrong planted climb and surround me. I don’t mind getting lost in this beautiful landscape that he has created. The violin returns in “Never been kissed” even more poignant and it pierces even deeper. It silences everything else and I can only listen and marvel and these magical sounds. I am inside this score, deep inside it and I don’t care if I’ll ever find my way back.

When the violin is joined by the angelic harp the fantasy gets even more intense… These two beautiful instruments have their quiet dialogue that I just listen to mesmerized. I feel as if I saw two unicorns all of a sudden. It’s a rare mix of disbelief and enchantment. Whoever tamed the violin like this needs to be on my favorites list. Cues like “Hollow in the fenrs” make it almost unfair for the others which, by themselves would easily be on my list for the end of the year awards.

“Far from the madding crowd” is rare and beautiful score. I will remember this one even after I will listen to hundreds more. If only for those violin themes, exquisite, intense and ravishing. I’ll say it again, I haven’t heard cues like these since “The Village” and this comparison alone should make you run and get this one. Craig Armstrong delivers once again. This is a composer who guarantees emotional and thematic wealth that will satisfy even the most exigent of listeners.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 29 / 41

Album excellence: 71%

Highlights:

Opening

Corn Exchange

Spring Sheep Dip

Oak Returns

Never Been Kissed

Hollow In The Ferns

Bathsheba And Troy Wedding

Time Moves On

Oak Leaves

End Credits

Far From The Madding Crowd Love Theme

 

About the author

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).

2 Comments

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  • It’s great that you also heard it!
    I was confident that The Village’s music had been composed by James Newton Howard, but listening to FFTMC’s soundtrack for the first time I couldn’t help but think this was Howard’s work.
    However, it clearly stated this music had been composed by Craig Armstrong… So I was a bit confused, googled it and came across with this article.
    Nice work!