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The Great Miracle
  • Composed by Mark McKenzie
  • Mark McKenzie Music / 2011 / 40:42

A Mexican-produced 3D animation, The Great Miracle is a Catholic-themed tale of love and redemption.  The film won’t even be released until the fourth quarter of 2011, but fortunately fans of the composer Mark McKenzie – who have been waiting since 2007′s Saving Sarah Cain to hear new music from him – don’t have to wait that long, since the music has already been made available for download from iTunes and Amazon.  I may as well say it at the beginning of the review (rather than wait till the end, as I usually do) – McKenzie is one of the most underrated film composers, probably the most underrated, generally writing very beautiful,  lyrical orchestral music but capable of action, suspense, whatever – each new score from him is something I savour, so this is more than welcome.  

Now, having said the above – and having been consistently impressed with his music over a long period – I don’t think any of his scores has ever quite reached the heights of this one, surely the pinnacle of his career to date.  This is soaring, quite exquisitely beautiful film music performed by a large orchestra, adult choir and boys’ choir which bears comparison – and would in no way be embarrassed by such comparison – with Georges Delerue at his most sweeping (The Black Stallion Returns, etc) and Ennio Morricone’s more liturgical choral music (The Mission, etc).  From this reviewer, I doubt there is a higher compliment which could be offered.

Mark McKenzie

From the stunning opening, “Enter the Cathedral”, it is clear that this is something special.  I suspect the composer must have felt a genuine attachment to the film, perhaps in the way that John Debney so obviously did with The Passion of the Christ (I’m not comparing the films or the scores, please understand!) – while his music is almost always heartfelt, in this score there seems to be that extra layer of emotion, a feeling so conspicuously transferred to the listener.  The themes linger in the memory long after the album has finished playing; the beauty leaves a lasting impression.

There are so many highlights, picking them out would simply involve me giving a track-by-track description of the whole album, so I will restrict myself to three.  The brief “Benedictus Deus” is a glorious choral duet, exquisitely arranged, so beautiful; and McKenzie has reportedly picked out the finale, “Ascension – Gloria Patri”, as his own favourite moment of his music so far (and the piece is a fine summary of the score’s main themes).  For me, the outstanding piece is “Angels, Demons and Prayer”, a battle between light and dark which travels from the score’s most choppy, aggressive music to its most soaring and beautiful.  It’s so well-constructed, so rich with emotion – stunning, really.

Film scores like this don’t come along too often.  Music so passionate, so moving, so warm as The Great Miracle deserves a wide audience, and I hope it gets it – McKenzie is such a fine composer and I have to say he has outdone himself here.  If you’re already a fan of the composer, you should buy this one without hesitation; if not, then if you like lyrical orchestral and choral music then there would be no finer introduction to the work of Mark McKenzie.  I know it’s only March – but if another film score comes along in 2011 which impresses me more than this one, I’ll be amazed.  *****

Note: since writing this review, the promotional release is no longer available, however the score has been issued (with extra tracks) by BSX Records and is available from Amazon: Buy The Greatest Miracle from Amazon.com and help support movie-wave.net by following this link.


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  1. Michael on Thursday 24 March, 2011 at 01:02

    I have no words for how right you are and for how beautiful this score is. This is the best score of 2011 for me so far (and I have heard the much hyped Jane Eyre score), and the first mckenzie score I’ve heard. Looking forward to discovering some of his older scores! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. christopher on Thursday 24 March, 2011 at 04:25

    Excellent score. I LOVE McKenzie’s music. Nice to see that you liked it so much, James. Michael, may I recommend Durango, The Last Sin Eater, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, and Blizzard (which was recently released for download on itunes). They are all further evidence of the brilliance of Mark McKenzie.

  3. Lasse on Friday 25 March, 2011 at 09:28

    Wonderful, lyrical stuff, as usual from McKenzie.

    Oh and a little something that isn’t directly related to this composer or soundtrack, but rather the similarities in beauty.
    Look up Lusbo Fisers soundtrack to ‘Valerie and her Week of Wonders’. If you want an inclination of that score, check out Joe Dantes ‘Trailers from Hell’ site where he comments on its trailer, and you can watch it without commentary and you’ll notice the magnificent score. One not to be missed, a masterpiece not far behind Delerues best work.

    /cheers

  4. darkwing on Thursday 7 April, 2011 at 23:50

    Tio me, this score ranks up there wth Delerue’s Agnes of God, which contains one of the most beautiful tracks in all of Delerue’s music. Beyond a doubt, this is McKenzie greatest score yet .. I have listened to it over and over and I can’t get bored by it. Bravo.

  5. christopher on Sunday 10 April, 2011 at 04:48

    Hey James, thought you ought to know that your praise for this score did not go unnoticed by the composer himself, who has quoted you on his site and linked to your review:
    http://www.markmckenzie.org/mm_notes.php

  6. Jo Adams on Thursday 5 May, 2011 at 19:12

    This is such an uplifting work, it’s chock full of emotion and would bring the stoniest heart alive.
    Please please see that this music is released as vocal score so that choirs around the world can experience the absolute pleasure of performing this work. How can we see that this happens?
    Wonderful fantastic music Mark, you are a joy to listen to.