Music From Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Featuring Original Score by Rachel Portman (music review).

It’s not often a limited-edition box set of music from ‘Jim Henson’s The Storyteller’ featuring original music composed by award -inning composer Rachel Portman comes onto the market. To be honest this is the first time ever and it’s something special. There are 3 CDs with the third CD featuring music from the spin-off series, ‘Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Greek Myths’. There is also a 32-page booklet of interviews with the producers of the series, Rachel Portman herself and a collection of behind-the-scenes photographs included in the package.

If you took a sneak peak at the track listing below, you might be thinking you have been short change as each of the main tracks has a Suite A version, followed by a Suite B version. Well, you can relax, as this package provides 3 hours, 6 minutes and 33 seconds with no discernible repetition that I could detect. The Suite B version is a different arrangement and of a different length to the Suite A version. Sometimes there are different instruments. It’s quite difficult sometimes to tell when one track ends and another one begins. Of course, there is an exception, the beginning of ‘A Soldier And Death Suit A’ is the same as the Suit B version.

A quick word about Portman herself, as it should be Rachel Portman OBE. She has a very extensive and impressive back-catalogue of work and more awards than you can shake a stick at. The OBE was awarded in 2010 and very well deserved if this collection is anything to go bye.

Let’s get to the music which is orchestral with traditional woodwind instruments featuring strongly. There are, of course, the string sections accompanying the proceedings. There’s at least two tracks where a violin escapes to be a fiddle but, the main instrument for me, is the bassoon. Some tracks are haunting, almost wistful, while others have a more strident tone.

With 36 tracks in this collection, I can’t discuss them all and, to be honest, apart from the title tracks, which tend to be short, it would be unkind to pick out some and not mention others. I really, really like the fact that the main tracks are quite long. They are long enough for you to lose yourself in them, which is an indication of the quality of both the composition and the players. There wasn’t a single track I didn’t like or felt like skipping in this collection.

By the way, the first track on the second CD, ‘Main Title With Narration’, features the dulcet tones of John Hurt. It’s not very long but very well done. The third CD is actually music from the spin-off series ‘Greek Myths’, but there isn’t any discernible change in style, so it easily blends in with the two CDs that preceded it.

There really isn’t a single reason I can think of not to buy this collection. It is one of the best soundtracks that I have listened to lately and I will no doubt be listening to it a lot more. As this is a limited edition, you better get one while you can!

  1. Main Title (Extended Version) 00:43
  2. Hans My Hedgehog Suite A 04:19
  3. Hans My Hedgehog Suite B 06:26
  4. A Story Short Suite A 06:47
  5. A Story Short Suite B 05:24
  6. Fearnot Suite A 05:24
  7. Fearnot Suite B 06:41
  8. The Luck Child Suite A 06:41
  9. The Luck Child Suite B 05:13
  10. The Heartless Giant Suite A 06:47
  11. The Heartless Giant Suite B 06:55
  12. End Title 03:32
  13. Main Title with narration 00:43
  14. The Soldier And Death Suite A 05:03
  15. The Soldier And Death Suite B 08:03
  16. The True Bride Suite A 05:38
  17. The True Bride Suite B 06:22
  18. The Three Ravens Suite A 07:31
  19. The Three Ravens Suite B 08:03
  20. Sapsorrow Suite A 05:14
  21. Sapsorrow Suite B 06:08
  22. Main Title (Short Version) 03:36
  23. Unused Bumper A 00:11
  24. Unused Bumper B 00:10
  25. The Storyteller Greek Myths Main Titles (UK Version) 00:43
  26. Theseus & The Minotaur Suite A 07:20
  27. Theseus & The Minotaur Suite B 09:16
  28. Perseus & The Gorgon Suite A 06:57
  29. Perseus & The Gorgon Suite B 07:25
  30. Daedalus & Icarus Suite A 06:38
  31. Daedalus & Icarus Suite B 07:23
  32. Orpheus & Eurydice Suite A 08:44
  33. Orpheus & Eurydice Suite B 06:58
  34. Main Titles (US Version) 00:37
  35. Theseus Bonus Material Suite 01:34
  36. Orpheus Bonus Material Suite 01:24

Andy Whitaker

May 2018

(pub: Varèse Sarabande. 3 CDs 186.5 minutes. Price: $49.98 (US))

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I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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