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Pleasant album of easy-listening music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 TM Productions.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
A decent tv series which despite the plural form in the title is actually only really about one of the Tudors, Henry VIII, The Tudors stars the excellent Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the legendary monarch. It's the sort of thing that HBO usually makes, though in this case it was shown on the Showtime network, and it won good viewing figures and lots of awards. The lives of people like Henry VIII are so fascinating and colourful I'm surprised more isn't made of them for the screen - it's the sort of thing that audiences are always going to lap up - and its creator, Michael Hirst, is making a bit of a living for himself from this sort of thing, having also written Elizabeth and its sequel.
The music is composed by Trevor Morris, of the ever-expanding Hans Zimmer stable, and he snatched an Emmy award for his title music, though it isn't one that sticks in the memory for very long. Zimmer's composers aren't known for their subtlety or finesse - at least, not until they escape the shackles and dare to go it alone - and there is a somewhat predictable sound to the music, but while it all sounds very synthetic, it is certainly not without its quality.
It goes without saying that much of it is extremely anachronistic, but the old argument goes that a symphony orchestra would no more have been at home in the court of Henry VIII than a man with a synthesiser, and I suppose there is a grain of truth in that. I guess the job of the composer in situations like this is to score the drama and not the time period, and that's what Morris concentrated on doing. There are a few more obvious attempts to make it feel of the age (the choral "Pathetic Fallacy" is a highlight) but otherwise it's got the feel of something like The Last Samurai or Gladiator a lot of the time (without the ethnic elements, obviously).
"An Historic Love" is an example of the score at its most effective, with a lovely easy-listening romantic theme dominating. It is at its weakest when its modern nature becomes most jarring, such as in the action music like "Jousting" - I guess it's somehow easier to take the gentle synthetic beats accompanying some of the most restrained drama than it is the full-on electronic barrage of the action pieces, but fortunately examples of the latter are somewhat rare. The Tudors makes for a pleasant, easy-going album and, while it may offer nothing earth-shattering, as usual for television soundtrack albums its target audience is presumably those who noticed the music while watching the show and see it as a good way of reliving the experience.