Review: Wolf Hall Live!

This year’s concert series got off to a flying start on Sunday evening as Marlborough was treated to a visit by one of the UK’s finest and most renowned composers. 

Classic FM Composer in Residence Debbie Wiseman MBE boasts over 200 film and television soundtracks to her name including Stephen Fry’s America, Dickensian, and most recently Wolf Hall.

Based on Hilary Mantel’s double-Booker-award-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the Golden Globe-winning BBC series aired in 2015 and dramatises Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in the court of Henry VIII.

Wiseman was joined by the Locrian Ensemble of London and renowned actor Anton Lesser for an exciting multimedia performance of the original soundtrack accompanied by imagery from the TV series and interspersed with readings from Mantel’s novels.

Consisting of some of the country’s finest musicians, the Locrian Ensemble is at the very top of its game, delivering a stunning performance which ranged from the blisteringly dramatic to the heart-rendingly mournful. It was the composer, though, who proved the real star: Wiseman spent the evening dashing between the conductor’s rostrum and the piano, at all times displaying absolute control over the ensemble with truly outstanding results.

The concert roughly followed the narrative of the television series with Lesser’s intense readings setting the scene for a musical commentary whilst the historical personalities literally loomed over the auditorium. The highlight of the concert must surely be the depiction of Anne Boleyn’s execution, as the impassioned reading left the audience hanging on every word with music that was gripping and moving in equal parts.

This thrilling concert with its exciting format proved a wonderful opener to a busy concert season.

Jim Bartlett 
Graduate Music Assistant

Photo courtesy of Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment

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