|Index||3 reviews in total|
Fine acting by veteran cast of David Warner, Jane Asher, and, especially, James Fox, as the Machiavellian Dean. Nicholas Farrel is also good as the choirmaster, and Cathryn Harrison is excellent as a woman coming into herself as a person (after the departure of her uncommunicative husband), while trying to protect her prodigy son without holding him back. Harrison, Rex's granddaughter, is also a natural beauty.
"The Choir" is a lovely mini-series (5 episodes) about the survival of
a cathedral' school choir, with a top-notch cast that makes it all too
believable how local politics in church and council alike can be
poisonous to the extreme. James Fox, David Warner, Cathryn Harrison,
John Standing, and Anthony Way (in real life a famous boy treble in his
days) and a host of others deliver the goods and it's certainly fun to
It is a solid-made series but with a dangerous high level of soap (especially the last episode). I could forgive this all were it not for the music. Or rather, lack of it.
It is a bitter irony that Gloucester Cathedral provided the magnificent backbone of the series, and when the choir sings you remember that England has indeed a very rich and very long choir tradition. But the overall background music of the series - in which music does play an important role! - is a general let-down. The composer, Stanislas Syrewicz, does know his stuff, but here we're invited to join the worst of pompous Victoriana 19th century music sounding a bit like Vaughan Williams on a very bad day, topped with a 'Panis Angelicum' which was sung by an angel, sure, but the bread was stale and it all sounded like an over the top orchestration by Stokowski.
For a mini-series involved in so much music that's a real let-down.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a BBC adaptation of what was then a fairly contemporary novel
about the political atmosphere in a fictional Anglican Cathedral's
Close and Precincts. The central premise, that of the fight between the
heart of a Cathedral, and its bank balance, was and still is relevant,
and the story of the threat to the choir school almost seems, in
retrospect, prescient, when one considers that some years after this
was made, there was considerable threat to Canterbury Cathedral's Choir
The acting was excellent, and the multiple layers of simmering tensions between different characters will keep you on the edge of your seats. Anthony Way, as Henry Ashworth, was perfectly cast. Choosing a chorister, rather than an actor, to play the role, was absolutely the right decision. Way understands the complexity of a chorister's position exactly, and, through his experience at St. Paul's Cathedral, displays the physical poise and emotional conflict that a chorister in Henry's position would display. Peter Vaughn and James Fox, as Councillor Frank Ashworth, and the Dean of Aldminster respectively, play characters that meet like an irresistible force meeting an immoveable object, and show once again why they are such highly regarded actors. Nicholas Farrell, as the choirmaster, plays my kind of Christian.
The music is enchanting, and is composed, arranged, or conducted by Stanislas Syrewicz, working with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
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