Pay no heed to the reviewer below. Any references found to themes from The Godfather are entirely coincidental (there are MANY three-note themes that sound similar; doesn't mean a thing. . . I mean, it's three notes!!) and, in fact, you could point to Portman's music leaning a bit toward sounding like more like Wojciech Kilar than anyone else and that's quite understandable due to director Roman Polanski's affiliation with that composer for quite some time.
What we have in Oliver Twist is pretty much the Rachel Portman we've always known, only now she's reached into unfimiliar territory for many of her listeners: dark, brooding themes and lots of minor key tonal centering. The score features a few notable themes, but only two are central to the score: Oliver's Theme and Fagin's Theme. Both of these themes are juxtaposed against one another effectively to create quite the wonderful English-sounding musical backdrop to Dickens' dark yet quirky character tale.
Portman's sensibilities towards strings and winds remain as strong as they ever have been, only this time she relies much more on use of the double basses and lower wind instruments to create carefully brooding textures for the more gloomy sections of the score. Her rhythmic action motifs are repetitive but effective and the simpler portions of the score are exquisitely well done and precisely orchestrated.
Overall, this is one of the biggest film score surprises of the year and I heartily recommend it to all Portman fans and especially to film music fans who have been disappointed in the 2005 film score year on the whole. This is a score to be long remembered and one to which Dickens himself would, I believe, give his approval.