Alexandre Desplat: The Queen

Alexandre Desplat: The Queen soundtrack CD cover French composer Alexandre Desplat is known in the film industry for his light minimalist scores accompanying rather unusual subjects such as "Birth" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring". So when he was chosen by director Stephen Frears to create the music for "The Queen", a story which covers the potentially depressing or boring subject matter of Death, Politics and Royalty, one has to imagine that the filmmaker was intent on bringing a touch of lightness to the film. And this is exactly what Desplat has achieved. The story's focus is on events after the death of Princess Diana, and the issues this creates for The Queen and Tony Blair and their relationship. What Desplat creates is a cocktail with a sprinkling of solemn stately references, but loads of light material which would not be out of place on a romantic comedy. And it really works!

The first track "The Queen" brings in some initial stately references in the form of Horns and Timpani leading into harp and woodwind. "Hills of Scotland" has a stately oboe against steady chords on strings and introduces the main theme in halting fashion. "People's Princess I" starts with a fast repeated note which is taken up by what sounds like a mandolin against a recurring bass note. When the theme returns against the mandolin it sounds decidedly Greek. "A New Prime Minister" features repeating timpani notes, and it turns out that the timpani (in addition to the Greek theme) play a prominent role throughout the soundtrack, it both light and solemn modes."H.R.H." features some solemn strings with the main theme on low flute. "Mourning" starts with a timpani solo and the track then brings in first strings and then harp. "Elizabeth & Tony" really seals the light and almost satirical credentials of the whole score with its secondary theme of a waltz for the Queen and Prime Minister. Clearly the films doesn't want to take itself too seriously!

"The Flowers of Buckingham" starts with a stately fanfare on solo trumpet, followed by strings underpinning the sorrow of the occasion. "The Queen Drives" bring some relief with a repeating ostinato figure against the main theme and low pizzicato strings and punctuation supplied by the timpani. The pizzicato action continues in "Night in Balmoral" with a variation on the main theme. As might be expected "Tony & Elizabeth" brings a return of the satirical waltz, and "People's Princess" returns to the repeated mandolin figure and recurring bass of the similarly titled earlier tracks. The composer conducts the London Symphony Orchestra on the soundtrack score, with the final track being the "Libera Me" from Verdi's Requiem sung by Lynne Dawson with the BBC Singers at the funeral service of Princess Diana. The CD album is available online at these links: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

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