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Soundtrack review: The crown (season 2) (Lorne Balfe & Rupert Gregson Williams – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: The crown (season 2) (Lorne Balfe & Rupert Gregson Williams – 2017)

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“The Crown” is a biographical drama television series, created and written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. The show is a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The first season covers the period from her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to the disintegration of her sister Princess Margaret’s engagement to Peter Townsend in 1955. A second season has been commissioned, which is intended to cover the Suez Crisis in 1956 through the retirement of the Queen’s third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1963 following the Profumo affair political scandal. The score for this second season was written by Lorne Balfe and Rupert Gregson Williams.

The score for the first season was written by RGW with a theme by Hans Zimmer; gone is Hans as well as his theme from this album and in comes Lorne Balfe to help so we are in good hands. I just love the opening cue “Bounden duty” as its grave and elegant as the story demands; the serious orchestral sound mixes with a tiny and lively motif in the background which gives it a human component. I connect really fast with the tone of this gorgeous cue and I have flashbacks of “The bible” score that Lorne wrote with Hans and Lisa Gerrard. I also like right from the start how the composers create the stamp of the time when the story takes place with a slight period sound in their orchestral musings. “Dismissed” sets that tone and Lorne used it, in a deeper way, in his “Churchill” score as well.

I have yet to watch the show but when I listen to a cue like “The downfall” with its combination or orchestral and RCP electronics I get all kinds of nostalgia tingles; this cue is like a metronome that’s ticking at its own pace without stopping, it’s that determined look that you cannot soften no matter how hard you try, it’s the conscience of something unstoppable and a cue that burns slowly before building up into something beautiful and familiar.

I like how the music plays with me and how the sound shifts from minimalistic to frantic, from orchestral elegant to raw and there are times, like for example “Homesick”, when I feel as if I’m listening to a cue from “House of cards”; it has the same shrewd and sneaky darkness about it, a darkness that sounds very appealing. There’s a military, political sound to this piece that just takes me instantly to that show. There are also those unmistakable RCP moments that I’ve been loving for years and that never fail for me, like the buildup in “Your majesty”, a buildup you’ve surely heard in a lot of Zimmer scores and not only but which is so sweet and inspirational that I could just heard it in every score I listen to. It just works.

I am finding thinks to enjoy in every cue; nostalgia knocks on my door in sweet, ambient moments like “Radio speech” which sounds more like a fairy tale; it’s a rare moment but just another gem. The overall sound of “The crown – season 2” is inspiring and elegant and if you like orchestral music, if you like the RCP buildup and if you like music that’s honest and meaningful, this score is for you.

As for me, wherever I look around there is something familiar and rewarding and this is just two of my favourite composers from the equivalent of the Disney castle in film music doing what they do best: using their craft to create music that leaves a mark. I enjoyed the music of the second season more than that of the first and this musical saga has all the premises to become one of the best in the following years. I know I’ll be waiting.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 32 / 59

Album excellence: 54%

Highlights:
Bounden Duty
The Downfall
Your Majesty
Radio Speech
Future King
Be My Portrait
I Have No Choice
Bring Him Home

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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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