I was delighted to see that ITV had commissioned a further travelogue series for Joanna Lumley. Both Joanna Lumley’s Nile and Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey were marvellous productions, made all the more enjoyable by Lumley’s engaging, warm and humorous commentary, not to mention two really vivid and luscious scores by Debbie Wiseman.
For her latest journey, this time from Hong Kong to Moscow on the Trans Siberian Railway, Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure was treated to another enjoyable score by a composer whom I’m very happy to know beyond the notes they compose, Miguel d’Oliveira.
Miguel’s sparkling accompaniment to the three-part adventure has been released by MovieScore Media, which is great news because it’s such a little gem. Rather than take on the exotic, far eastern locales through which Joanna travels, Miguel instead daubs broad glistening musical strokes that take in the wonder and thrill of the journey. He also tips his hat to the presenter’s own charismatic charm and the sense of awe and joy she so generously shares with those she meets (and us viewers).
A multi-instrumentalist, Miguel brings lots of interesting sounds to the table too, from wild woodwinds and twinkling soundscapes to propulsive strings, piano and percussion. Each track on the album opens a (train) window into Lumley’s response to a new landscape or human experience; this is very much a score from her perspective. It’s also a very personal score for the composer, not only because he has performed much of it himself, but you can tell he has invested himself in it wholeheartedly. ‘One Way Ticket’ is a particular favourite, with oboe and flute dancing round each other atop a fanciful rhythm. ’As Far As The Eye Can See’ feels Newmanesque (Thomas, that is) with soulful piano and strings; you can immediately imagine a wide open vista that has made you humbly catch your breath, comprehending its magnitude and beauty.
Miguel appears to be at his best when dealing with people and has shown this through countless documentary scores for the small screen. With Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, he has delivered a lovingly crafted and perfectly realised little jewel; I only wish it were longer!
You can download the album here.