Best Scores of 2015 U.K.
THE MUSKETEERS [SEASON TWO] – Paul Englishby
The Musketeers is a historical action-drama TV series from the BBC, based on the classic novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, which charts the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan who leaves his rural home and travels to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard protecting the French monarchy; d’Artagnan and his comrades Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, subsequently become embroiled in numerous adventures along the corridors of power, involving plots to overthrow the King, back-stabbing and double dealing in the church, illicit romances, and much more besides. The show stars Luke Pasqualino as d’Artagnan, Tom Burke as Athos, Howard Charles as Porthos, Santiago Cabrera as Aramis, and Peter Capaldi and Marc Warren as the scenery-chewing villains, and has been a popular success on British TV since it first began airing in January 2014.
The main theme of the show, and the score for Season One, was written by the popular Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, but for 2015’s Season Two he was replaced by the equally talented Lancashire-born composer Paul Englishby (although Gold’s main theme, an upbeat renaissance-style dance piece with gruff, chanting voices, was retained). Englishby intentionally doesn’t reference much of Gold’s material in his score, instead building it around a brand new, flashy motif for the heroic Musketeers in action. After a being briefly introduced in the opening “Musketeers Theme” – a flurry of dashing strings and rousing brass fanfares – Englishby cleverly inserts the theme into numerous cues thereafter, establishing it as the primary identity of his score.
It is used terrifically in the numerous action sequences, most notably the magnificent and swashbuckling “The Ravine Sequence,” “Escape Foiled,” “Rescue from the Guillotine,” the almost folk-like “Saving Jeanne,” the determined-sounding “Training the Villagers,” and the high-spirited “Series Finale”. In fact, the exceptional quality of the action music in The Musketeers is the most surprising thing about the score; Englishby’s previous scores, which include small-scale dramas like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and An Education, and more contemporary jazz-infused pieces like Salting the Battlefield and Turks & Caicos, gave no indication as to his prowess for writing stirring, exciting action material, but The Muskeeters contains a ton of it, and it’s impressive indeed.
More intimate, dramatic pieces underscore both the intrigue of French courtly life, and the romantic escapades of the gallant quartet themselves; cues like “Compte de Rochefort” are bold and menacing, and “Milady de Winter” and “Milady and the Jewels” are full of intrigue and mystery thanks to an increased synth element, while elsewhere pieces like “King Meets His Son,” “Aramis and the Queen,” and “Porthos and Samara,” are more pastoral and emotional, with especially excellent writing for cello and, in the latter cue, moody ethnic woodwinds. The more romantic “D’Artagnan and Constance” showcases some lovely interplay between solo guitar and woodwinds, while the sweeping, swooning “Papin’s Wife” rises to exquisite heights.