A superb score from Patrick Doyle, this puts a couple of interesting twists on his usual music and provides for a superb listening experience. The opening track is not, to be honest, that promising.Starting from strange synth background and with some atmospheric whistling and spooky, magical vocals from Tori Amos. I admit that it had me worried for a couple of minutes, however from the atmospherics appears the tuneful Doyle we all know and love. There is only one major theme in this score but it is wonderfully passionate, but very mysterious at the same time. It is performed in various guises throughout the score, firstly by John Williams on guitar, who of course plays superbly. When the entire orchestra performs the theme in tracks such as Kissing in the Rain, the overall effect is amazing and extremely powerful.
The soloists are used extremely well throughout. I wondered if they'd interrupt the score, do their bit and then the score would carry on, but in turns out they are integrated very well indeed. Of course, the selection of instruments, classical guitar, opera soloists, pop singers and whislters is rather an eclectic selection, but all are used to great effect and never distract from the music and it firmly remains Doyle's album with them only adding to the effect. In A Walk in the Park, opera and classical guitar combine to great effect and produce an interesting and very beautiful combination. The following track appear to what almost seems to be the obligatory Doyle song using words based on the original text is an aria; more opera than choral and the chrystalline voice of Kiri Te Kanawa only adds to the majesty of the occasion. I'm not keen on opera, but this is a delicate song and has a suitably delicate performance as would be expected from a soloist of Kiri Te Kanawa's talent.
The twist on Doyle's style goes even further with the inclusion of a backing drum beat, somewhat like a toned-down version of that used by David Arnold in Tomorrow Never Dies. Doyle's use is much more as a backing, rather than the driving force for an exciting action cue and as such adds to the atmosphere rather than create it. I think the electronic aspects of the score were intended to reflect the updating of the Dicken's novel that the film is based on and so is more contextual than anything. Whatever the reason, the bass beat is used sparingly enough not to ever overwhelm the beauty of the material. Like many of Doyle's scores, this will not only appeal to soundtrack buyers but also to those who appreciate classical music as the whole thing has a classical feel to it, but the addition of the electronics bring it up to date. An unusual, but always stunning score, thoroughly recommended.