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Soundtrack review: Penny Dreadful (season 3) (Abel Korzeniowski – 2016)


Soundtrack review: Penny Dreadful (season 3) (Abel Korzeniowski – 2016)


“Penny Dreadful” is a British-American horror drama television series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan, who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes. The title refers to the penny dreadfuls, a type of 19th-century British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter. The series draws upon many public domain characters from 19th-century British and Irish fiction, including Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Renfield, and Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; and Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Abel Korzeniowski wrote the score and I loved the music of the first two seasons. This is a review of the third season score.

And there’s the haunting, majestic and addictive violin that starts “The master” and there’s the perfect darkness, rich and complex that I’ve come to expect from Abel’s music for this show. As I listen to yet another magnificent album I regret that the show was cancelled after three seasons; I know we’ll keep getting the AK magic but not in this exact form. I really can’t wait to see the TV show.

If the music of season one was scary gothic and the music of season two got quieter and more emotional it’s time to complete the spectrum with season 3 which includes, for the first time in the series, music that’s more quirky and resembling what Danny Elfman usually writes for Tim Burton movies. It’s not all that but there are moments when I expect Beetlejeuse to show up. The musical world of Penny Dreadful is even more varied than I knew as “New Mexico” shows me. “Nocturnal danger” and “Common Red Fox” show me something else, that Abel Korzeniowski can write like Ennio Morricone. The way the violin is used here is reminiscent of my favourite themes from the maestro. “False mirror” is horror music at its scariest, “Guardian angels” shreds my heard once again with he strings and season 3 of “Penny Dreadful” is the most varied musically.

The palette of emotions Abel Korzeniowski covers in this score without breaking the flow of the music is just beyond belief. The sadness in “Rejection” almost brings tears to my eyes as once again the piano and violin play on each other’s pain. And it’s just an example as almost every cue is a separate theme and this is quite a feat to be accomplished by a composer. Every cue is a separate theme and, just like in the previous season, almost every cue has the weight, meaning and emotion of an end credits suite.

As the trilogy of scores comes to an end I think I will settle at the second one as my favourite, just barely. All three of them though will remain close to me and I will come back to eachof them when I need a dose of seductive gothic darkness, the kind that feeds upon itself and feeds my emotions as well. I do hope Abel Korzeniowski will come back to TV; getting his music in continuous doses would be very good for me and for the film and TV music world.

Cue rating: 97 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 62 / 72
Album excellence: 86%
The Master
Dr. Jekyll
Nocturnal Danger
False Mirrors
Guardian Angels
Common Red Fox
We Butcher Them
Us And Our Kin
White Room
One Day Soon
House Of The Night Creatures
Such Is Our Power, Such Is Our Kingdom
All Light Will End
Let It End
Boat to Africa

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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