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Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

Debbie Wiseman
Live at the Barbican


Composer: Debbie Wiseman
Performed by: The Orchestra of Guildhall School
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 24 March 2017

As part of Barbican’s Contemporary Music Concerts series, in January 2016 The Orchestra of the Guildhall School performed a retrospective concert of composer Debbie Wiseman’s film, TV and concert work. Silva Screen Records release this 16 track (1 hr, 18 min, 34 sec) recording of the performance...

It's uncertain whether or not this recording was solely from the night's concert, or whether some of the tracks were taken from rehearsals. I only mention this as on occasion there is no audience applause at the end of a few of the tracks. To be honest, this isn't an issue as it gives Debbie Wiseman's many fans the opportunity to pay tribute to some of the highlights of her work to date.

Wiseman spent three years studying piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and so it's a loving tribute that they asked her back to conduct a concert of her music with the college’s Symphony Orchestra at their new concert hall in the Barbican Centre, Milton Court. The orchestra is made up of first and second-year musicians. That in itself is impressive, considering that I've heard releases from some of the more famous "professional" orchestras that don't sound as good as this.

It was while listening to this release that I realised how much I've lagged behind on collecting Wiseman's scores. While I have heard Haunted; A Poet in New York; Wolf Hall; and Lesbian Vampire Killers, the rest of the tracks on here have sadly passed me by.

If nothing else, it acts as a beautiful introduction to some of the incredible scores she has composed, making it an ideal starting point for those that haven't been collecting her impressive output. It's well worth picking up some of the full length scores that are featured here.

The album cover is a little odd. It's a strange choice of photo of Wiseman. It's not very flattering and while the blurred hands were designed to make look like she's animatedly conducting, it actually has the odd effect of making it look like she's been taken hostage in a cellar and tied up with rope. It's not a great photo nor is it even remotely in focus.

Ignoring that slight aside, this is a beautiful album and it was great to hear different performances to those on the original albums. While the music is the same, the sound mix can on occasion bring different instruments to the foreground, which you never really noticed on the original recordings. This makes for an interesting and fresh listening experience.

In fact, it was will listening to their performance of Haunted that I suddenly noticed how similar in style it is to Jerry Goldsmith's score for Poltergeist.

Whether you're a fan of Wiseman's output, or just a collector of beautiful soundtracks, this is an album worth adding to your collection.

Track listing

01. Wilde West
02. Wilde
03. Tom’s Midnight Garden
04. Wolf Hall
05. The Truth About Love
06. Flood
07. Lesbian Vampire Killers
08. A Poet In New York
09. Haunted
10. Father Brown
11. The Whale
12. Arsene Lupin Suite 1st Movement
13. Arsene Lupin Suite 2nd Movement
14. Arsene Lupin Suite 3rd Movement
15. Arsene Lupin Suite 4th Movement
16. Jubilee Gigue


Darren Rea

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