" Still looking for a theme to be buried with? "
Written by Thomas Glorieux
- Review of
the regular release
William I, also known as William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England from 1066 until 1087. William's reign, which imposed Norman culture and leadership on England, reshaped England in the Middle Ages. Enough interesting material to make a TV movie of him. Sadly, very few people saw Michael Gambon give life to William I. And by that they missed John Scott's musical legacy as well. Enter the label JOS Records to correct that absence with 2 releases of his music. This version here is the expanded issue that was released in the United States.
Covering 4 extra tracks, William the Conqueror is a mix of 3 distinct styles. A) you have the authentic church singing, B) you have the period music for various instruments and C) you have John Scott's own musical material. Hearing the first 2 is what separates William the Conqueror from probably all of Scott's other soundtracks. The authentic feel is great and really transports you to the 11th century, but it also divides this soundtrack in 2 distinct musical experiences. Because no matter the rich authentic sound of these moments, one simply has to hear John Scott's own ideas to make them a believer of his talent, once again.
The choral singing in "Exultet", "Alleluia", "O Admirabile" and the piece after the main theme (representing the funeral) in "Death of William" does heighten the experience, but one will also degrade them to the background as they are soft pieces for male choir. The dances for various instruments also add an authentic level to the whole experience ("Rondeau", "Gigue"), but again, they aren't that memorable. Meaning it is John Scott's own material that works around that flawlessly, and more specifically dares to deliver something extraordinary as well.
The dramatic suspense in "Hastings 1066" and "Devastation of York", the waltz like love theme in "William and Matilda", the stirring "Allegiance to the King" and the soft dramatic tones of "Execution of Waltheof" and "Matilda's Death" all fade away once you encounter what is probably John Scott's biggest theme yet. Yes, I know how it sounds, Scott, a master of themes and a composer who has delivered so much classic tunes in his career, delivering an even better one? Well, for me he has, because I honestly can't remember a more memorable one. Think of the main theme of Anthony and Cleopatra, but going further, delivering a more majestic encore (if that's possible). But it's possible because "The Conqueror" and "The Conqueror (Reprise)" are simply put magnificent, noble fanfares that continuously grow to their proudest version yet. They are what make William the Conqueror a necessity for John Scott fans.
From the very first note I knew. I knew William the Conqueror was going to deliver me something memorable. I knew the theme was gonna do it in the end, but I didn't know to what extent. Hands down, this is John Scott's theme to remember him by. This I see being played at his own coronation, or at someone's coronation because it is music kings should be crowned upon. All that combined alongside authentic source music makes it all the more rewarding. William the Conqueror is really an album like I haven't heard them a lot. And then themes do tend to stand out.
1. Blood Royal (2.02)
2. The Conqueror (4.08) Excellent track
3. Hastings 1066 (4.23)
4. Exultet (1.44)
5. Crowning Fanfare (1.29)
6. Alleluia (2.42)
7. William and Matilda (2.16)
8. Rondeau (Instrumental Dance) (1.13)
9. O Admirabile (Vocal Entertainment) (0.59)
10. Gigue (Instrumental Dance) (1.28)
11. Allegiance to the King (3.12) Excellent track
12. Devastation of York (3.52)
13. Execution of Waltheof (2.56)
14. Matilda's Death (3.02)
15. O Admirabile (2.47)
16. Hereward the Wake (Battle in the Fens of Ely) (4.51)
17. Death of William (5.32)
18. The Conqueror (Reprise) (4.06) Excellent track
Total Length: 52.42