In 2009, the BBC broadcast a new tv series based on Jane Austen’s Emma – the eighth television adaptation of the classic tale. It’s also made its way to the big screen on seven occasions – and yet another film version is apparently coming in 2010. Given all that, it must be quite hard for the people who keep making it to find a new way of doing it, but this version was pretty well received in Britain. It must also be a challenge to the composer, in this case Samuel Sim – he worked on numerous British tv series and occasional films throughout the 2000s, but I believe this is the first time one of his scores has made it to CD (courtesy of Moviescore Media). I guess it must have been a challenge as to whether to try to reinvent the wheel, or steer the route of most other composers who’ve tackled it (the most famous recent example being Rachel Portman, who won a rather improbably Oscar for her fluffy music for the 1996 film).
The safe path was the one that was chosen – understandably – and this is completely lovely, charming music. It’s in a vaguely similar vein (though not quite so syrupy), perhaps also with a hint of Carl Davis’s beautiful score for another BBC Austen adaptation, Pride and Prejudice. In other words, it’s perfect! It’s flowery, summery, splendid music. There are subtle hints at darker moments, particularly towards the end, but as (famously) with the novel, these stay largely beneath the surface. The score is anchored around a lovely main theme – Sim gets a lot of mileage out of it, and it never outstays its welcome. It’s the kind of malleable, flowing theme that can be used in such a way. This is a lovely album, for all those who enjoy pleasant melodic music which leaves a smile on your face. *** 1/2