Composed by John Lunn (Little Dorrit
), the official soundtrack to the Emmy-winning Downton Abbey
shows that the British know how to score a lavish costume drama just as effectively as they do how to make one. The millions of fans captivated by the ITV series -- which follows the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants in a fictional Yorkshire town's stately home during the early reign of King George V -- will be delighted by the extended versions of the pieces of music which have appeared throughout the critically acclaimed first two seasons. But even classical fans who have failed to be reeled in by the authentic, early 20th century costumes and legendary thespian talent will find it hard to resist the charms of its 20 elegant compositions, which range from the light and airy, brass-fused "Us and Them" to the brooding, ominous, piano-led "Deception." The beautifully haunting melodies and sweeping strings of the theme recurringly appear throughout the 20 compositions, from the seven-minute, epic opening track to the soaring vocal version from British music student-turned-Chinese talent show winner Mary-Jess ("Did I Make the Most of Loving You") which closes the album. However, Lunn's subtle but inventive arrangements, performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London, ensure that the soundtrack never becomes too repetitive. Indeed, among the stream of plucked pizzicato strings, gentle woodwind, and warm layers of orchestration, there are also a few surprises. "A Song and a Dance" is a rather ambient final instrumental featuring some skittering xylophones, jaunty piano hooks, and breezy flutes, while Les Miserables
tenor Alfie Boe
provides some suitably stirring vocals on the sparsely produced covers of Elsie Griffin's wartime ballad "Roses of Picardy" and The Bing Boys Are Here
revue number "If You Were the Only Girl in the World," both of which were originally published around the drama's early-1900s setting. An enchanting piece of work, Downton Abbey
is one of those soundtracks that perfectly complements its source material, but is also strong enough to stand alone on its own merit, too.