Latest reviews of new albums:
Their Finest
  • Composed by Rachel Portman
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2017 / 35m

A WWII-set romantic comedy, Their Finest stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy and follows a British film crew making a morale-boosting film to cheer people up during the Blitz.  Reviews have been very positive and many critics have included praise for Rachel Portman’s music.  A lot of Portman’s scores are very similar, and this is not an exception – what sets the better ones apart is generally the quality of the themes.  Their Finest opens with two real beauties – “Catrin Goes to Ministry” is an upbeat, summery, very lovely piece along the lines of The Cider House Rules; then “I’d Miss You” is a tender piano theme, heartfelt and moving.

The themes go through various different arrangements, the dramatic tone sometimes shifting, the melodies at their heart explored in various different ways.  Elsewhere, there’s a strained feel to “Catrin Grieves” (as you might expect), some stirring action with a healthy dose of patriotic fervour in the two-part “Nancy Starling”, some classy, evocative suspense in “Tower Falls” – in fact, genuinely not a moment passes that isn’t very pleasing to hear (except for the small smattering of songs, which are what might politely be termed an acquired taste, except probably to those around at the time).  Despite being very brief, the album does start to get a bit repetitive, so it’s a good job it’s not longer – but packaged like this, Their Finest is Portman’s most satisfying piece of work in a very long time.  I doubt there’ll be a lovelier film score this year.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Saturday 22 April, 2017 at 11:55

    No lovelier scores, except maybe Viceroy’s House!

  2. ANDRÉ, Cape Town. (Reply) on Sunday 23 April, 2017 at 23:20

    ‘Still Life’ with its exotic orchestration, beautiful melodies and emotional harmonic structure is another one of PORTMAN’S most recent scores that I treasure. And if the ‘SAMENESS’ you refer to James includes the melodies, emotional power and harmonies that PORTMAN so effortlessly generates in her scores, then I gladly look forward to this ‘SAMENESS’ in her future film music releases. Many years ago the GEM CINEMA, in Woodstock, Cape Town, used to screen two old movies per night. I wanted to see ‘Love Field’ to hear JERRY GOLDSMITH’S music. ‘Love Field’ was twinned with ‘Sirens’, a romantic dramedy set in Australia — NOT the genré I usually bother to view. But that’s when I heard the very beautiful music of RACHEL PORTMAN for the first time, and rejoice that there’s a living film composer able to craft thematic material that contributes so wonderfully to the scoring gestalt. PORTMAN layers her scores with exceptionally gorgeous themes that include ‘Emma’… ‘The Joy Luck Club’…’Where Angels Fear to Tread’ …’The Closer you get’… ‘Belle’…’Great Moments in Aviation’ and ‘Chocolat’. I watched a YouTube presentation of a German Symphony Orchestra celebrating a concert Suite of Portman’s Main Titles – a marvellous selection of Film Music that received thunderous applause, and an enthusiastic acknowledgement, directed at the conductor and Orchestra, from RACHEL herself. /// Great hearing from Mastadge again…so few readers, these days, share reactions to their new scores, or have they given up buying film music? Sure, there’s lots of mediocre current releases flooding the market, but there are also stunning re-recordings of old scores or expanded verions of music by Cinema’s Great Maestros. What’s happened to all the readers of Movie-Wave??