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The Thirteenth Tale (Benjamin Wallfisch)

May 19, 2014

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.


Cover_thirteenthtaleTHE THIRTEENTH TALE

Benjamin Wallfisch, 2014, MovieScore Media
17 tracks, 38.09

What is it? “The Thirteenth Tale” is a BBC drama television film that aired in the UK last December. It tells the story of an aging novelist who hires a young writer to tell the story of her life; including her mysterious childhood. It stars Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman.

What does it sound like? It’s a moody and broody piece of work, with some superficial resemblances to James Newton Howard’s “The Village”, John Williams’ more sinister cues for “Harry Potter” and some of Dario Marianelli’s works (for example “Jane Eyre”); all due to its particular use of piano and flute. The album opens with a mysterious arpeggio for piano and harp; with dense strings and woodwinds joining later. The use of flute (recorder) particularly adds to the spooky atmosphere. With “Margaret Flees” Wallfisch offers a tense little scherzo; the kind you’d normally associate with John Williams. The cue ends with some eerie chords for tremolo strings. Throughout the score you will hear various devices familiar to this genre, such as tremolo strings and the flute. “Isabelle” showcases a heartfelt solo cello, whilst “Genuinely Dangerous” is a tense horror cue, including growling trombones. There is some nifty synth work in many cues. Most interestingly, a lot of thought has gone into the mixing, as some instruments deliberately sound faded. It very cleverly adds a tremendous amount of atmosphere; absolutely fascinating!

Is it any good? Meticulously written and orchestrated, as you would expect from Wallfisch. The mixing is particularly noteworthy. Some tracks end a bit abruptly, and the album is over before you know it. As a stand-alone listening experience it may just be lacking a little bit of impetus. All in all it’s a model score for this genre, and it is very stylish and flawlessly executed.

Rating [3,5/5]


Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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