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  • Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Varese Sarabande 302 067 024 / 2010 / 42:25

The fourth (and apparently last) Shrek movie has opened to considerably more in the way of praise, but considerably less in the way of box office receipts, compared with its little-liked predecessor.  I imagine that in a few years we’ll be seeing more from this franchise, but anyway; composer Harry Gregson-Williams has accompanied Shrek on all his journeys to date (in conjunction with John Powell on the first score, but solo ever since).  There is little which is new or particularly surprising in this fourth score, but (as is the case surprisingly often when it comes to sequels) the music just seems more rounded here, lacking the jagged edges and individual moments of distinction of the earlier scores but bringing things together in a very nice package.

Many familiar themes return, including the sweet-and-lovely main theme; I often moan about the lack of good themes in scores for modern blockbusters, so I’ll celebrate this one.  There’s good action music, too – and unlike in the third score (and to an extent the first two), it’s pretty coherently presented, not just flitting about for a few seconds before moving on to something else – those rounded edges I mentioned.  There’s a brief return for the guitar music for Puss in Boots which is very welcome – and a soaring, very satisfying finale.  As I said, much of the material is rather familiar – but this is probably the most satisfying of all the Shrek albums and should appeal to fans of good-natured orchestral adventure scores in general (and of course Gregson-Williams fans in particular).  *** 1/2

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 02:22

    I agree. While I’ve enjoyed themes and snippets from the other Shrek scores, this is the first that’s worked for me as a whole, and the first that I’ve wanted to play again not long after playing it once.

    That said, as much as an improvement as this is over the other Shrek scores, I don’t think it deserves the same star rating as HTTYD.

  2. JNH (Reply) on Wednesday 23 June, 2010 at 11:39

    For me, the first Shrek score is still the best one. It seems that in the following scores Gregson-Williams didn’t need to make an effort that much, and his work concentrated mostly in adapting the already existing material to the new films. Almost no original music was written for any of them. So yeah, they were all very pleasing, and the fourth one is probably the most pleasing of them all, but it’s easy to imagine Gregson-Williams writing another 50 of them without sweating too much.