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REVIEW: 'War Horse,' Original Music from Tony Award-winning Best Play

Tony Award Winner Shines on CD

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


REVIEW: 'War Horse,' Original Music from Tony Award-winning Best Play

War Horse, Original Music, Tony Award-winning Best Play

National Theatre
Defying description, War Horse is a different stage horse altogether. Seeming like a musical theatre piece that is not a musical but a play with symphonic music, folks songs and purposeful singing, the show features a full score that powerfully evokes the story and palpable emotions of its characters. This soundtrack is from the National Theatre producion, not the Broadway version, but is absolutely an essential cast album to own.

A Score Like No Other

The stage production is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Set in France during the First World War, War Horse tells the tale of "Joey," a horse sold to the French Cavalry for the war effort. Seventeen year-old "Albert" goes in search of his beloved horse.

A magical production presented by the National Theatre in London, the War Horse soundtrack features a lush, cinematic score for a play that is dependent upon the music to tell the tale, though the characters on stage do none of the singing. The story is told from the perspective of "Joey," the horse, in the novel, but none of the animals talks in the play version.

The cast album's listing of 23 songs includes Adrian Sutton's spectacular orchestral underscoring as well as John Tams' folk songs, performed by Tim van Eyken, and backed by a men's chorus.

Sutton's compositions effectively evoke the sorrow of young "Albert," the calm of the countryside, the frightening landscape of war, and the pain of loss. The tone ranges from a deceptively simple soliloquy to full-throttle battle orchestra that evoke images of Wagner's Valkyrie flying in and around Holst's "Planets."

Counter-balancing the serious symphonic side of War Horse are the folks songs composed by John Tams. Honoring a time gone by, when life seemed simpler, the folk songs in War Horse connect the characters and the story back to their humble beginnings as farmers, workers of the land.

Overall, the soundtrack for the stage production of War Horse is brilliant, emotive, poignant, and explosive, perfectly expressing the thoughts and feelings of its lead characters.

The Broadway production of War Horse won the Tony Award for Best Play as well as a Special Tony for the exquisite design and working of the massive horse puppets. The show also won Tony Awards for Best Direction for Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, Best Scenic Design for Rae Smith, Best Lighting Design for Paule Constable, and Best Sound Design for Christopher Shutt.

The New York production is set to close on January 6, 2013, but a national tour is in pre-production for launch in 2013. While you wait to see this show live, on stage, get the War Horse soundtrack and be mesmerized by this story told in pure sound.

Song Listing

1. Devon at Peace [A. Sutton]
2. Only Remembered [Sankey, arr. J. Tams and H. Brough]
3. Albert and Joey [A. Sutton]
4. The Year Turns Round Again [J. Tams, arr. A. Sutton and T. van Eyken]
5. First Gallop [A. Sutton]
6. Learning to Plough [J. Tams, arr. T. van Eyken]
7. Wheel of Fortune [J. Tams, arr. A. Sutton and H. Brough]
8. The Scarlet and the Blue [J. Tams, arr. A. Sutton]
9. Crossing the Channel [A. Sutton]
10. The Wounded [A. Sutton]
11. Devonshire Carol [J. Tams]
12. The Charge [A. Sutton]
13. Hold the Line [J. Tams, arr. A. Sutton]
14. Goodbye Dolly Grey [W. Cobb and P. Barnes, arr. A. Sutton and T. van Eyken]
15. Friedrich's Theme [A. Sutton]
16. Emilie's Theme [A. Sutton]
17. Into the Crater [A. Sutton]
18. Pulling the Gun [J. Tams, arr. A. Sutton]
19. The Year Turns Round Again (Reprise) [J. Tams, arr. T. van Eyken]
20. The Tank [A. Sutton]
21. Joey's Long Night [A. Sutton]
22. Albert and Joey Reunited [A. Sutton]
23. Only Remembered (Reprise [Sankey, arr. J. Tams and H. Brough]

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