The Snowmen / The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe Soundtrack Review
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull gives his verdict on Murray Gold’s score to the past two Xmas specials.
I always feel like I’m committing a crime by listening to Christmas music when it’s not the festive time of year. When I put on Murray Gold’s latest masterpiece it felt weird to be hearing something with so many overtones in September. I look forward to inserting it into my CD player come Christmas Eve and then it’ll really feel extra magical.
Finally, after much yearning from fans, the BBC have decided to release The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’s harmonious tunes bundled together with last year’s seasonal outing, The Snowmen. Both are feasts for the ears, silky melodies that are absolutely typical treats from maestro Murray Gold.
Again I’m going to countdown my top ten tracks from the more recent Christmas specials.
Geronimo! (From The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe)
A track that was heavily featured in Mark Gatiss’ thrilling Series 7 romp The Crimson Horror, Geronimo! is yet another twist on I Am The Doctor (everything is nowadays). A jumpy rollercoaster of a track it featured in the infamous opening scene of The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe – a scene that some cite as the best part of the divisive Christmas episode. It’s definitely up there in my top ten.
Ditched at Sea (From The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe)
Given the context of Ditched at Sea (you can guess from the title), it’s a surprisingly upbeat tune with plenty of drumming and chording. And there’s something infectious about it that makes me hit play again and again.
Madge’s Theme (From The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe)
Soft and lingering, Madge’s Theme is one of the best companion themes Murray Gold has produced (Madge’s official status as companion is up for debate) and a tune that could easily come out of Downton Abbey or an equally glossy period drama. Although Madge’s theme and Madge herself don’t actually suit each other particularly well, it’s still a beautiful track considered on its own.
Into the Present (From The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe)
Into the Present is a funny one. It starts off rather light and ethereal, gliding along before literally changing its tune and climaxing in ten seconds of a horror movie soundtrack (imagine the bit where you’re shouting at the TV ‘don’t follow the scary goblin into the basement!’). But aside from the jarring ending it’s a blithe tune that could have been extracted from It’s A Wonderful Life!
Flying Home for Christmas (From The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe)
Flying Home For Christmas is a bumper Christmas treat. At just over four minutes it’s one of longest tracks on the album and one of the best. It’s haunting, slightly intimidating, and Christmassy to boot.
A Voice In The Snow (From The Snowmen)
Before this soundtrack was even released, A Voice In The Snow had already developed its own fan following (akin to the notorious Bah Bah Biker). I can see why. It’s a stirring piece of music and changes in range and pitch repeatedly, thus making sure you’re always listening to it.
Clara in the TARDIS (From The Snowmen)
Or Christmas Clara as I like to call it. Clara in the TARDIS is essentially Clara’s theme except with a bit of a Christmas tinge. I’m a massive fan of the original so Clara in the TARDIS is definitely a track I’ll set on repeat. There’s even a little bit of the TARDIS’ interior score in there.
One Word (From The Snowmen)
The title: One Word sounds like a Justin Bieber song, really but in actual fact it’s a very sophisticated piece of music (sorry, Beloobers or whatever you’re called). It slowly builds up to a nicely understated climax making it one of the more poignant tracks.
Sherlock Who? (From The Snowmen)
Imagine someone took the theme of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock and mangled it through some awful sound-editing software and put it up on YouTube. The result is probably Sherlock Who?, the closest anybody is going to get to ‘WhoLock’ (the crossover between Doctor Who and Sherlock so many are desperate for) and I’m not saying it’s a bad track. It’s just a little bit coarse at times but still as it softens I start to like it more and more. You feel this with each listen.
Whose Enigma (From The Snowmen)
Who is Clara Oswin Oswald? How did she appear in the Dalek Asylum, Victorian London and now modern day Earth? Will the Doctor discover her true identity? Oh, we’re not doing that anymore. Listening to Whose Enigma took me back to last Christmas when I sat on the edge of my edge, still mourning Victorian Clara’s death when all of a sudden a new one popped up. Hooray! But how on Earth? Whose Enigma is initially despondent before picking up its pace but still blossoming as something wistful and rather melancholy.
Murray Gold has outdone himself again. The Snowmen/The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe soundtrack is an absolutely stunning piece of work. But like every album it’s not without its weak links. Some tracks (e.g. Lifeboat) don’t quite appeal to this reviewer’s ears as others but nonetheless they’re all good in their own way. Kudos to Murray Gold and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, this album is a masterpiece.