Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Walt Disney Records
After a particularly brutal winter, no score is better suited to usher in the spring than Patrick Doyle's shimmering, beautiful work for Disney's new live-action "Cinderella." Re-teaming with director Kenneth Branagh for their 11th film together, Doyle's score is brimming with classical orchestration and transforms into a waltz every chance it gets (the album even contains six stand-alone waltzes and polkas written by Doyle for the film's royal ball). Bringing to mind equal parts warm sunshine and elegant castles, the score is a joy to listen to from start to finish. It fits the princess-tale so perfectly, in fact, that Doyle's refusal to quote the 1950 animated film's beloved score and songs makes the feat even more impressive.
Leitmotifs abound and are given a workout with varied orchestration and tempos throughout the album. The fairy godmother's magic gets accentuated with chimes and children's choir in "Pumpkins and Mice," while Ella's primary theme adapts from grand-entrance elegance ("Who Is She") to royal-fanfare travel music ("Searching the Kingdom") as needed. A cheerful music-box-esque tune is first heard in the appropriately-sunny "A Golden Childhood," and later receives a spirited performance at the ball in "La Polka Militaire," showcasing Doyle's skill at versatile melodies. The album's best track, "The Stag," is its longest and one of its most varied: the music moves from fast-paced heroism, to tender violin romance before concluding with a heart-soaring rendition of the score's main theme.
The album concludes with a trio of songs not contained in the narrative portion of the film. "Strong," performed by Sonna Rele and written by Doyle, Branagh, and Tommy Danvers, is the requisite inspirational end-credit pop song. Tacked on at the end are, amusingly, two of the aforementioned 1950 film's songs, performed by actresses from this film. Helena Bonham Carter seems to be having a blast flitting through the nonsense-lyrics of the Oscar-nominated "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (The Magic Song)," while Lily James does a lovely job with "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" — one of the best songs in Disney's history — not-surprisingly transformed into a waltz for this arrangement, complete with lush orchestration courtesy Doyle and co-orchestrator James Shearman.