Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by Christopher Gunning
  • Caldera Records / 2014 / 53m (score 27m)

Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 children’s book Pollyanna has been adapted for small and big screen six times, beginning in 1920 with a version starring Mary Pickford, most famously probably Disney’s 1960 version with Hayley Mills – and this one, a 2003 British tv adaptation.
The story is essentially all about looking on the bright side of whatever life throws at you, told through the eyes of a little girl whose positive outlook is severely challenged when her legs are paralysed after a fall – but she is geed up by numerous people who have been affected by her happiness over the years.  If it all sounds a bit sickly, it’s worth remembering that it’s aimed at children – and worth also being grateful that it gave Christopher Gunning the chance to write a genuinely lovely score, full of class and charm.

The music is dominated by one theme, light and flowery and relentlessly happy – perhaps evoking in spirit if not compositional style the great Georges Delerue.  It is so full of joy it would surely bring a smile to all but the most haggard of faces – sentimental perhaps, but it has to be.  It’s not entirely monothematic though and there are plenty of punctuating set pieces with a similarly summery outlook.  The “darker” moments in the score are only slightly so – hints only of sadness, routinely quickly overtaken.  It’s a short score, a smidgen under half an hour, and made up primarily of short cues, but Gunning is a class act and it holds together very nicely, an album easy to listen to several times in a single sitting.  As a bonus, Caldera’s disc includes a 26-minute interview with the composer.  Pollyanna is absolutely lovely.

Rating: **** | |

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