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Soundtrack Review

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The Box of Delights
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Roger Limb
Performed by: The BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILCD1457 (CD), SILED1457 (download)
Release Date: 14 December 2018

Silva Screen Records release Roger Limb's 1984 score from the BBC miniseries The Box of Delights. Performed by The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, this album is compiled and mastered by Mark Ayres. Poet Laureate John Masefield's classic 1935 fantasy novel was adapted by the BBC and broadcast in six parts between 21 November and 24 December 1984. The story of a young schoolboy whose ownership of a magic box allows him to shrink, fly, revisit the past and experience incredible wonders and creatures inspired ambitious special effects and scooped three BAFTA awards, one for best children's series and two for television craft...

Silva Screen Records has finally released something that's been on my wishlist since 1984. As a teenager I loved the main theme from this, but it wasn't until a few years later that I discovered that it was borrowed heavily from Victor Hely-Hutchinson's Carol Symphony. So, not being able to find an album release of the score to The Box of Delights, I made do with Hely-Hutchinson's original.

Now, I have to admit that I haven't revisited The Box of Delights on DVD, even though I've been meaning to buy it for years, and friends that I grew up with dig out their DVDs every Christmas, so I know that it's still a magical adventure. I can barely remember the plot... So on the first play through of this soundtrack release I was quite disappointed to discover that other than the main and closing theme, the rest of the album mainly consists of short music cues. Hely-Hutchinson’s 'Andante Quasi Lento e Cantibleharp (The Coventry Carol,The First Nowell)' is not only referenced for the main theme, the harp motif is also returned to on occasion to underscore particular emotional moments.

After listening to it over and over again, one thing that stood out was how experimental and diverse Roger Limb's compositions are. Limb, a specialist in electronic music and working with The BBC Radiophonic Workshop is perhaps best know for his work on Doctor Who. The score combines acoustic instruments with synthesised sounds.

The score to The Box of Delights contains 49 tracks (1 hr, 04 min, 49 sec). If you're a fan of the series, or Limb's music in general, this album, now finally available, is well worth buying. But, do yourself a favour. Also invest in Hely-Hutchinson's Carol Symphony, or at the very least 'Andante Quasi Lento e Cantibleharp'.


Darren Rea

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