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High Spirits (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

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Album Review

George Fenton has been laboring in the U.K. vineyards for quite a while, and though he has many notable movies to his credit as a composer (Gandhi, White Mischief, The Company of Wolves and Cry Freedom to name a few), he isn't as well known as, say, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, or even young upstarts James Horner and Danny Elfman. High Spirits is another of those GNP Crescendo albums. Which means that you get a great deal, especially if you go for the CD. The editing and transfers, as usual, are flawless, clear, and dynamic; plus, you don't get whichever 35 minutes of music was handy to the person assembling the album — you get every last bit that's worth putting into the release.

High Spirits is a terrific album, capturing the demented Irishness of the movie and somehow even managing to capture the character of Peter Plunkett (and actor Peter O'Toole, who played Plunkett). It's highly amusing that Fenton somehow managed to convince an orchestra to let rip with variations on Irish reels and jigs in the way that they do here. The result is lively and spirited, and most thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. On the technical side, as already mentioned, the album editing and sequencing is excellent, while the digital mixing and CD transfer are crisp, transparent, and very dynamic indeed, with a full-bodied bass and a soaring high end that doesn't get shrill or distorted. At times, in fact, it's downright ethereal — at which point it usually whomps you with a jig to bring you back to earth.


Born: 19 October 1950 in England

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

British composer George Fenton certainly has a magic touch when it comes to composing scores for motion pictures. He began composing in 1975, and soon penned music for such British theatre directors as Peter Gill, Howard Davies, Adrian Noble, and Richard Eyre. His efforts paid off in a big way, as he won respective BAFTA and Ivor Novello awards for his work. But his greatest accomplishments were yet to come. Starting in 1983, Fenton successfully made the transition from theatre to movies, receiving...
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