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Soundtrack review: Call the midwife (Maurizio Malagnini – 2012)

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Soundtrack review: Call the midwife (Maurizio Malagnini – 2012)

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“Call the Midwife” is a BBC period drama series about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The plot follows newly qualified midwife Jenny Lee, and the work of midwives and the nuns of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent, and part of an Anglican religious order, coping with the medical problems in the deprived Poplar district of London’s desperately poor East End, in the 1950s. The Sisters and midwives carry out many nursing duties across the community. However, with between 80 and 100 babies being born each month in Poplar alone, the primary work is to help bring safe childbirth to women in the area and to look after their countless newborns. Maurizio Malagnini wrote the score, with help from Peter Salem.

Usually BBC period dramas have enjoyable scores as, luckily, the producers care about the quality of the music. This one starts with a delightful little piece called “Summer is coming” and the title says it all really, with the joyful piano and the inviting strings. It’s an elegant yet playful opening. Everyone who has read my thoughts knows how much I adore Italian film music and no sooner than the second cue “The miracle” I discover one of those sweeping, romantic pieces that is in the Italian composer’s DNA. It’s as if I enter a different world where even the greatest troubles are met with melody instead of drama. There is beauty in every single, carefully written and performed note from this album and I don’t need to watch the show and be familiar or connected with the stories it tells to be able to fully enjoy this composition; Maurizio Malagnini’s music is an universal language that transcends boundaries and I can just appreciate this as music; beautiful, rich, passionate orchestral music.

There really is only one word that can describe the score for “Call the midwife”: joy. It’s the joy I experience while listening to it and the joy I am sure the composer felt writing it. There general tone of the score might be sad but there are moments when the rolling piano just explodes with hope and optimism. This score is an ode to melodies as there is not a single rough edge in the music; everything is polished and comfortable to touch and I am just happy that this art of romantic Italian film scoring lives on and that there are composers who write and perform their hearts out. It’s the kind of album that is beautiful and emotional without getting overly dramatic as Maurizio Malagnini keeps the music ever elegant. The cue titles also deserve a mention, it’s something I usually care about and in this case some of them are beautifully poetic. I am sure this score will bring joy and a bit of light to anyone who listens to it.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Highlights:
The Miracle
Three Steps From the Sky
She Wants to Live
The Passage to Eternity
The Moment I Lost You
A Father Is Forever
Hope for a Better Future
The Turners
Shelagh Gives Birth
The Adventure of Life (Maurizio Malagnini & Peter Salem)

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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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