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The Paradise (Maurizio Malagnini)

September 1, 2013

cover_the-paradiseThe Paradise

Maurizio Malagnini, 2013, Silva Screen Records
29 tracks, 56:35

Some nine months after the BBC aired the costume drama “The Paradise” Silva Screen has now released the accompanying soundtrack by Maurizio Malagnini. It’s a charming little score and an unexpected find – a most welcome one at that.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

“The Paradise”, based on the novel “Au Bonheur des Dames” by Emile Zola, tells the story of live in and around the first department store in the North East of England. It is a period drama playing to a similar (if not the same) audience that fell in love with “Downtown Abbey” and later “Mr Selfridge”. In particular “The Paradise” focuses on store owner Mr Moray (Emun Elliott) and his desire to expand his business at the expense of the surrounding local shops. He also takes a liking to new girl Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham), whose uncle is one of the suffering shopkeepers down the road, though Moray is set to marry someone else… Various bits of drama unfold over the course of 8 eight episode, accompanied by Maurizio Malagnini’s colourful, orchestral score.

What does it sound like?

The album opens, as you’d expect, with the shows main title “The Paradise Lovebirds”. It is a whimsical, classical-sounding theme in which flutes and violins seems to dance around each other flirtatiously, much like Denise and Moray. This sets the tone for the rest of the album, which remains playful throughout. With few exceptions, the music is constantly in motion. Violins are plucking, flutes are running, cellos are arpeggiating. It’s a sprightly little score that never lets up. I will refrain from a complete track-by-track analysis, as I’d struggle to find 20-odd synonyms for ‘playful’, even with an online thesaurus at the ready!

“The Portrait” introduces a lush theme for strings, which is repeated several times throughout the score, notably in “Sam is Innocent” and the CD’s closing track. It also introduces a string arpeggio that I could almost imagine turning into Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” – okay, maybe at a stretch, but it’s got a similar energy to it. “Reception Waltzer” is a lovely and cheerful waltz. “Children Arrive at The Paradise” and “Shopgirls” are elegant yet bustling cues. Due to a superficial rhythmic similarity , I keep willing them to morph into Alan Silvestri’s “The Parent Trap”. Oddly, the “End Credits” are placed halfway through the album, though it does actually flow quite nicely from the previous track.

The score does have its quieter moments, during which attention turns to slow strings and gentle piano, such as “Impossible Love”, “We Will Never Know”, “I Have Married the Wrong Man”, or the romantic “Perfume from Morocco”. There is drama with “I Will Ruin You” (the closest you’re going to get to an ‘action’ cue), “Lord Glendenning Owns Everything” or “The Dark Lake and Jonas” but the tone never gets too heavy-handed. The TV show itself is light entertainment, not willing to be critical or upset anyone. The music follows suit.

“Miss Audrey and Ladieswear” features sparkly performances by both piano and solo violin. There a lyrical string theme in “The Wedding Veil”, and another in “The Hope for Love” – or is the same one? The score is chockfull of themes, with many of them being slight variations on each other. With 29 tracks on offering, it becomes difficult to keep track of all themes and motifs; and it is not the kind of score that wants to (or indeed should) be scrutinised to that level. Just sit back and enjoy.

Towards the end “Denis and Moray Are Falling in Love” finally! Oddly, I find the music that captures their love story to be weaker than the rest. “The Final Kiss” however reprises what could only be described at the score’s main theme (first heard in “The Portrait”) and brings the album to a heart-warming if somewhat unremarkable end. A livelier cue might have made for a more satisfying finale.

Is it any good?

Most tracks are short; most of them do not exceed the two-minute mark. Such is to be expected from a television score. However, the sequencing is well thought-out and the space between cues has been minimised to allow for fluent, suite-like transitions. This, in combination with the joyous nature of the music, makes for a most pleasant listening experience. It’s an album one could easily return to time and time again, especially since the music itself is to timeless. Earth-shattering it is not. Incredibly well-written and orchestrated it is. Performed by a small orchestra (strings, woodwinds, little percussion and no brass) it is utterly charming, a gem waiting to be unhidden.

Rating [4/5]

Tracklisting

1. The Paradise Lovebirds (0:32)
2. The Portrait (2:24)
3. Children Arrive at the Paradise (2:11)
4. Impossible Love (1:32)
5. I Will Ruin You (1:18)
6. Reception Waltzer (1:27)
7. Opening the Doors (1:56)
8. We Will Never Know (3:41)
9. Denise Is Entering the Paradise (0:52)
10. Shopgirls (1:56)
11. Trailer and End Credits (0:52)
12. I Have Married the Wrong Man (3:42)
13. Sam Is Innocent (2:07)
14. Miss Paradise Pink (0:28)
15. Pauline’s Theme (0:59)
16. Miss Audrey and Ladieswear (3:11)
17. Perfume from Morocco (2:03)
18. Sam Could Lose Everything (1:25)
19. Audrey and the Baby (2:44)
20. Denise and Moray (1:54)
21. Lord Glendenning Owns Everything (2:35)
22. Miss Audrey Is Unwell (1:12)
23. The Dark Lake and Jonas (2:43)
24. Katherine and Moray (2:34)
25. The Wedding Veil (1:48)
26. You Are Mine (2:01)
27. The Hope for Love (1:50)
28. Denise and Moray Are Falling in Love (1:54)
29. The Final Kiss (2:44)

Availability

Available digitally and on CD.

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