Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical (Soundtrack from the Netflix Film) | Album Review
Monday, May 22, 2023
The tender finale points to the message of the whole story being about the power of love and having someone standing by your side
The score for Matilda the Musical has always had a personality as vibrant as that of its young protagonist, and the soundtrack ofthe Netflix film adaptation offers another journey in its musical flight of imagination. Tim Minchin’s songs for this story of a girl with extraordinary powers are incredibly eclectic, and Christopher Nightingale’s fresh orchestrations bring a whole new treasure box of aural delights.
Newly written by Minchin for the film version, it encapsulates the overall feeling that this is not a version of the Matilda score that is played for laughs
In addition to the genres of ‘pop/rock, jazz, classical and quirky Musical Theatre’ that Nightingale identifies, there is now a symphonic and choral grandeur;a cinematic quality, while still retaining some of the quirkiness of the original. The vast contrasts in scale are one of the striking features here: within a single song we move from an epic sweep of symphonic orchestration down to a single instrument with intimate vocals. It’s a technique often used to bring focus to the vocal lines of the two heroines, Matilda and Miss Honey, as found in key songs such as ‘Quiet’ and ‘My House’.
Contrasted with these are the full company numbers ‘School Song’ and ‘Revolting Children’, which are all about rhythm: the sharpness of clarity in the first, that cleverly highlights the alphabet through its unfolding, and the exuberant abandonment of the driving beat in the second.
As the eponymous heroine, Alisha Weir delivers tight, crisp vocals with incredible diction, sitting alongside the warmth and roundedness of Lashana Lynch’s vocals as Miss Honey. Emma Thompson’s Miss Trunchbull is seriously villainous and her reminiscences of her glory days in ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ and ‘The Hammer’ point to just how threatening she might be.
The final song of the album, ‘Still Holding My Hand’, is a real treat. Newly written by Minchin for the film version, it encapsulates the overall feeling that this is not a version of the Matilda score that is played for laughs – something that is reinforced by the removal of the Wormwoods’ songs ‘Loud’ and ‘Telly’. Rather, this beautiful, tender finale points to the message of the whole story being about the power of love and having someone standing by your side. After the epic, varied journey that the Matilda score takes you on, it’s a beautiful and fitting end.
inspired by the STAGE musical
Dennis Kelly screenplay/book
Tim Minchin music, lyrics Christopher Nightingale original score
Newly written, the final song ‘Still Holding My Hand’ is a real treat
Cast Alisha Weir, Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Andrea Riseborough, Stephen Graham, Matt Henry, Meesha Garbett, Sadie Victoria Lim, Carl Spencer, Charlie Hodson-Prior et al
Studio orchestra / Laurie Perkins
Netflix Music / Sony Music Masterworks