Among the film music composers of today, Michael Kamen has perhaps not really gained the place he deserves. And that is a shame. Kamen is very talented, and above all very well-taught. With a number of scores during the 90’s he has proved that he knows how to use the orchestra to its maximum capabilities. The Three Musketeers is perhaps the real proof of mastery, a score where almost every note is exactly in the right place.
The overall style of The Three Musketeers is very “French baroque”, but with modern orchestrations. Classic baroque instruments, like the harpsichord and the oboe d’amore, are used to great effects. This fits perfect with the film, as usual with Kamen. And not only does this score fit with the film, it is also a very enjoyable listen on CD. The score is both rousing and very beautiful, and does not contain any unlistenable action music. This is adventurous music at its absolute best. On the soundtrack album the score has been arranged into a sort of baroque suite, with titles referring to the type of music, like “Passacaille” or “Concert Royaux”. The pieces has been arranged so these titles fit with the piece as well, even when taking their musical meaning into consideration. In other words, featured on the CD is a kind of concert suite, and therefore the music is not always as we heard it in the movie. The order is a little different, but it does not matter in this case since the CD is such a complete listening experience.
Kamen is good at using all parts of the orchestra, but it is not often that he also utilises a choir in his scores. But in this he does and he does it really well. The first track “The Cavern of Cardinal Richelieu”, is a great choral display, with a lot of power. It actually has some similarities with Howard Shore’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” (well, really it’s the other way around). Slow and powerful it is, anyway. The best track on the entire CD is in my opinion “D’Artagnan” – a very rousing piece of work, excellently orchestrated. Kamen likes to use the percussion a lot, and that is very evident in this piece, and in the score at large. For the action music, “Sword Fight” and “The Cardinal’s Coach” are great pieces, the latter with some great rhythmical work. The last piece, “The Fourth Musketeer”, rounds up the score perfectly and ends the CD like a grand finale.
The CD is opened by the pop song with Bryan Adams, Sting and Rod Stewart, “All For Love”. This is actually a great song, co-written by Kamen. And parts of the thematic base of the score come from this song. Furthermore, Kamen has created a lot of memorable themes here. The CD is rather short, just above 40 minutes, but still it covers most of the music in the movie – the parts not included are mostly the same themes in the same arrangements in just another order, or something similar. Nothing to miss really, in other words.
What dominates this score is joy. In its spirit this is a very uplifting score, even if some parts are more dramatic. But in the core it is adventure, and it is joy. Kamen has created a “modern baroque music”, and has above all created wonderful themes to use in this baroque setting. On CD, the score stand very well on its own, almost like a concert work, with complete arrangements and in the end it adds up to a more or less perfect listening experience.