Latest reviews of new albums:
All Is True
  • Composed by Patrick Doyle
  • Sony Classical / 37m

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as William Shakespeare in All Is True, written by Ben Elton and drifting between fact and fiction in its portrait of the great man’s twilight years. Branagh’s collaboration with composer Patrick Doyle has spanned decades now and – of course – included many Shakespeare adaptations. The composer’s elegant, often gentle score for this film sees him treading ground that has yielded some of his finest works – while he can do the bold theatrics without difficulty, it’s in more intimate dramas that I think he really comes into his own, and this one is no exception. The orchestra is chamber-sized for the most part and Doyle utilises this ensemble in the best way, managing to wring out every last drop of emotion from his players – often we hear strings and piano with fairly subtle winds.

The score starts in fairly dark territory (but is always melodic) – tugging away slowly but doggedly – before the first release which comes in the gorgeous “The Trial”, a track sandwiched by mournful string refrains either side of it. In them, the strings are elegiac yet intimate, showcasing Doyle’s rare gift for this kind of thing. As it progresses, the score sees numerous beams of light starting to be shone – and a particular joy is listening to the two main themes get developed. They both receive standalone performances at the album’s end which are tremendous – “Fear No More” gets both a handsome vocal version (sung beautifully by the composer’s daughter Abigail) and a touching solo piano one (played by the composer himself), the lighter and heavenly “I Know a Bank” just the piano – but there are numerous variants on both throughout the album which are all a joy to hear. All Is True may be a relatively short, relatively small-scale score – but it’s a delightful one, the latest product of one of the most fruitful ongoing director/composer relationships in the world of film.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. Jules (Reply) on Monday 11 March, 2019 at 06:53

    Will have to revisit this one, probably dismissed it a little early or wasn’t in the mood at the time. Thanks for the review James!