Genre: Soundtrack, Release: 2000
Instead of an coherent review, I will take the songs particular in hand. As you see, I'm using another rating scale (analogue to the episode ratings).
The Beginning (Overture):
The song starts with the intro of Frith' Blessing (I go into it later). The melody of the overture can be heard good in the first episode. Opposite to the tv-series, the song raises tremendous. The horn section gets louder and disembogue into the melody of the main theme Bright Eyes, only to continue the great beginning theme. The first highlight on this soundtrack!
A modern interpretation, sung originally by Art Garfunkel. This time, Stephen Gately (who died 2009) take the microphone. The song fits very good into the series and cut a fanntastic figure with it's modern arrangement.
Thanks to Mike Batt, the known classical melodies and instruments preserves. If you ask me, which version I prefer, I only can say: Both sounds fantastic in their ways. Art Garfunkels version fits better to the movie and Stephen Gatelys interpretation to the series.
Thank You, Stars:
Sung by Cery Matthews, Thank You, Stars was written exclusively for the tv-series. It can be heard during the journey of Hazel and Primrose to Redstone. But also during the future episodes, the melody appears.
The melody saves a firm place in the third season. It can be heard during the outro. In a way, Thank You, Stars can be seen as the lawful follower of Bright Eyes. It's possible, that it is the most famous new song on the soundtrack and it was covered occasionally by famous actors (like Katie Meluna).
On Watership Down (Folk Theme):
A calm song, that can be heard from time to time in the series. Unavoidable you think of Kehaar, who's flying in the air during this melody. The song is rather decent and emphasizes the calm scenes in the series. Very nice to hear and really relaxing.
But then, this song raises with a pompous arrangement and again Mike Batt could caught in perfectly the atmosphere of Watership Down on CD. The middle part is calmer, only to raise again during the end, creating a phantastic atmosphere, that gives Watership Down an epic, where some other series can dream of. The song ends calm and creates an impressive picture of Watership Down in the listener's head.
(When You're) Losing Your Way in the Rain:
Sung by Art Garfunkel, (When You're) Losing Your Way in the Rain is a calm ballad, that should be originaly used in the movie. It's released exclusively on this soundtrack. Mike Batts arrangement is unmistakable. It's a nice folk-song, but not as good as his achievements like Bright Eyes.
Military Theme and Development:
A dramatic, dynamic and loud song, that can be heard often in the series; only in the last third it's getting a little calmer, just to break through with full power in the finale. It is a real first-class arrangement (so the note will be appropriate), but it's also a little bit omnipresent in the series. Simply, it could be heard too often during the confrontations with Efrafa.
The View from a Hill:
This song can be heard during the beginning of the episode A Tale of a Mouse. It's sung by Mike Batt, accompanied with a beautiful guitar play. The song is very powerful, so it's not really a ballad; more a folk song. Really nice.
Fantasia on a Flying Theme:
A very calm song that picks up the Thank You, Stars theme. Quasi the classical instrumental interpretation of the song. It sounds clichéd, but appropriate to the song title, you can say: A song to sail along. Did I say calm? Of course, Mike Batt couldn't resist and during the end, a powerful wind section finish this song grandiose.
Chase Adventure from Watership Down:
Like Military Theme and Development, this is a song that can be heard often in the series during the confrontations between Watership Down and Efrafa. Fast, loud, dynamic; and unfortunately a little bit omnipresent. The song isn't getting worse, of course. Consistently accompanied with some calmer parts, Mike Batt creates again an amazing drive. Maybe the best classical arrangement on this album!
A real short intermezzo, that can be heard during Hannahs encounter with Tassel, for example. Maybe the song has worked better as a part of a bigger arrangement.
Gary Martin tells the story of El-ahrairahs creation. As said before, the song The Beginning (Overture) is based on this arrangement. But here can be heard a sacral choir in the intro. It's not a song in the classical meaning, more a audio drama. Gary Martin may tell the story very good and the background music is very felicitous. But it's a song I don't like really.
Winter on Watership Down:
Winter is coming to Watership Down. That is underscored by the following songs. Winter on Watership Down is definitely a christmas song with it's background bells. It could be very joyful in the cold season. Powerful arranged by Mike Batt, this song creates an amazing atmosphere, without to disclaim the dramatic art, that distinguish the series and the soundtrack.
Again, loud and calm parts are alternating and create a great dynamic. Coeval, the middle part of the Winter Song can be heard and so, the listener gets prepared for the following song. Of course, this song must end with a pretentious finale.
"No matter, how cold the winter. No matter, how deep the snow. We will be warm again. And the grass will grow." Pipkin told this words during his feastful telling to all animals during the christmas feast in Watership Down. The story deals with Frith, who left the earth during winter, leaving the landscape in snow. But with one of El-ahrairahs tricks, Frith returned. He realized, that he was missed on earth. So he spoke: Even, when I leave the earth to visit the stars, I'll always come back. Holly and Ivy where Frith' promise.
Those words are part of the Winter Song. A really wonderful song, sung amazingly by Paul Carrack, that cannot only be heard during the winter time. More a typical pop-song with a reluctant e-guitar and of course an classical arrangement by Mike Batt, accompanied with a choir.
A Kind of Dream (Choral Fantasy):
This is the coral version of Bright Eyes. A real extraordinary and exciting interpretation of the main theme. Rather calm in the middle part, the song raises into an amazing finale. The choirs are evocative of the movie 2001: A Spece Odyssey. And who intently watched the third season realizes, that the song can be heard during the finale of the series, when Woundwort was taken with his army by the Black Rabbit of Inlé.
Bright Eyes (Single Version):
What's going on in the heads of the creators? "We composed a superb soundtrack. Let's create a real crappy single-version"? Bright Eyes as an modern R'n'B-version. With snaps, cheap beats and the whole works. Stephen Gatelys voice is even really powerful during the end. A gospel choir and a slight e-guitar conduct him. That sounds yet interesting, wouldn't there be the bog-standard production, that ruins everything. After this song, you want to hear a round Trick or Treat.
In conclusion, it can be said, that Mike Batt composed a fantastic soundtrack. Unfortunately, the overall score is pressed down by some slips. In terms of figures, I would give a rating of 6,5/10 points. But because I think, that the one or other song should not be weighted so strong (especially, that there are unreleased tracks on the soundtrack should be noted), so we have a final rating of 8,5/10
01. Watership Down -
02. Bright Eyes (Stephen Gately)
03. Thank You, Stars (Cerys Matthews)
04. On Watership Down (Folk Theme)
05. (When You're) Losing Your Way In The Rain (Art Garfunkel)
06. Military Theme And Development
07. The View From A Hill (Mike Batt)
08. Fantasia On A Flying Theme
09. Chase Adventure From Watership Down
10. Baroque Tune
11. Frith's Blessing (Erzähler: Gary Martin)
12. Winter on Watership Down
13. Winter Song (Paul Carrack)
14. A Kind of Dream (Choral Fantasy)
15. Bright Eyes (Single Version, Stephen Gately)