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The Night Manager (Victor Reyes)

April 7, 2016

Cover_TheNightManagerTHE NIGHT MANAGER

Victor Reyes, 2016, Silva Screen Records
19 tracks, 52:36

The soundtrack to the excellent BBC show has now been released. Will it still grab our attention as it did during the show?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A gripping BBC adaptation of John le Carré’s espionage drama, “The Night Manager” brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hollander, Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie and with a massive $30m budget, the series is the priciest drama per episode of any commissioned by a UK broadcaster.

The show proved a hit amongst viewers, as more than six million tuned in to watch Hiddleston’s cool smiles and Laurie’s dry wit; not to mention Hollander’s wicked performance. A second series is already on the cards. The BBC is keen on a second series, but Le Carré’s sons, as well as Hiddleston and Laurie announced that it is highly unlikely there will be a sequel – for the simply reason that John le Carré hasn’t written one. The show’s score is written by Spanish composer Victor Reyes, who impressed fans and critics alike with “Grand Piano” (2013), which won him an IFMCA award.

What does it sound like?

Let’s get the negative out of the way, shall we? The music for “The Night Manager” is not particularly original. It tries hard to fit in with an established sound for spy-thrillers with a Mediterranean / Middle-Eastern touch. There’s an emphasis on strings and piano, with accordion,  Middle-Eastern flutes and light percussion adding local flavours as the story moves between Mallorca, Egypt and Iraq, amongst other places. So, it’s not a game changer, but it plays the game very well. Very well indeed.

The albums opens with the show’s “Main Titles”, a tense little cue for string ostinato and a lush 6-note theme. Somehow it oozes luxury and danger at the same time. Very fitting – and it must be noted that the actual main title sequence (by Patrick Clair) is a work of art in itself. Both the main theme and the string ostinati remain pivotal throughout the score. It is particularly satisfying to hear the main theme reprised so often, and prominently, throughout the show – this is not necessarily a given as plenty of shows have a great main theme that is never heard during the actual show. Every time the theme appears (be it on the piano, strings or accordion), it adds a touch of class to an already slick soundtrack.

A beautiful solo cello permeates “Maybe You Killed Her”, whilst strings and piano create a particularly melancholy mood in “He Never Told Me His Name”; showing off the show’s (and its score’s) tender and dramatic moments. In fact, most of the album’s mid section is slow-moving with a focus on drama. With “I Brought You Some Flowers” the album begins to take a turn towards something more suspenseful. Reyes dials up the tension in “Embankment” and “In The Same Hotel”; and unleashes his action material in “Deceit”. Arabesque strings and percussion dominate the next few cues (and at times, you can almost imagine the famous James Bond bass-line to play underneath it). It’s not reinventing the mould, but it’s exciting, very effective and instantly recognisable. The album concludes with “Farewell” where all the tension is released, and the main theme receives a beautiful, quite romantic rendition.

Is it any good?

Victor Reyes has expertly crafted a very fitting score. Not one to break new grounds, but one that handles an established style with care and respect. In doing so, he has actually managed to create a score that is instantly recognisable as “The Night Manager”. I’m particularly pleased that the main theme, as heard over the opening titles, reprises throughout the score (something that’s not necessarily a given with television scores). “The Night Manager” is a slick little thriller score, with an luxuriant main theme and effective orchestrations for strings, piano and various Mediterranean and Arabesque instruments. Whilst everyone’s talking about how Tom Hiddleston should be the next James Bond… perhaps Victor Reyes should be its next composer?

Rating [3.5/5]

Tracklist:

01. The Night Manager Main Titles (0.52)
02. All The Great Philanthropists Of Our Time Are Businessmen (3.14)
03. Night Manager Desk (3.03)
04. Suspicious Mind (Including End Credits) (3.00)
05. Samira (2.46)
06. Maybe You Killed Her (2.38)
07. A Proper Villa (3.04)
08. Mother of Justice (2.25)
09. He Never Told Me His Real Name (2.39)
10. Make A Decision (2.49)
11. Private Property (3.03)
12. I Brought You Some Flowers (2.32)
13. Embankment (3.00)
14. In The Same Hotel (2.55)
15. Deceit (3.57)
16. Back To Cairo (2.20)
17. You! (3.06)
18. No, No, No! (2.49)
19. Farewell (2.24)


Review (C) 2016 Synchrotones

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