The scores to the Twilight series have been somewhat disjointed. Composer Carter Burwell composed the score for the first film, and was subsequently replaced by Alexandre Desplat for The Twilight Saga: New Moon The Score
, and Howard Shore's contribution for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - The Score
(which I considered to be the weakest score in the series). Carter Burwell returns for a second attempt in Breaking Dawn Pt 1, and I think this is one of the strongest scores in the series.
The main difference between Burwell's first score, and those subsequently for New Moon and Eclipse is that the latter two have been more orchestral in nature. This is a move which Burwell has emulated in Breaking Dawn Part 1. The album features a lot of piano, strings, and guitar writing, which sounds very pleasant, but the tempo is fairly slow. There is a lot less reliance on electronic elements which were commonplace in his first score. I wont attempt to go into a track by track analysis of BDP1, because many of the tracks have a similar style to them. In terms of the more action based tracks, "A Wolf Stands Up (track 12), "Playing Wolves (Track 17) and "You Kill Her You Kill Me" (Track 24) provide the more up tempo sections. Even these sound slightly restrained, and I feel Burwell is saving his best for the next installment. That said, the tracks are of high quality, (and despite a few moments of dissonance (eg towards the end of "Wedding Nightmare (Track 4)), the album makes for an easy listen.
The duration of the album is just short of 54 minutes - and I thought this was a little short. Of the 25 tracks present on the album, none reach over 4 minutes in length. This is a shame, because the musical themes established are good, but none are presented in any extended form to provide a longer action cue. On a related note, the film runs for 117 minutes, and I would guess (I have yet to see the film) that this under represents the amount of score that is heard in the film. I would therefore recommend listening to the samples prior to the purchase in case there are cues that you liked within the film that may be missed off the album. Also, I didn't notice any development on any previous themes from either of the three albums, so consider this release to be somewhat of a clean slate from a musical point of view. I would have quite liked to have heard a extension of some of Desplat's themes from New Moon, but I can't say I was hugely shocked at the exclusion.
Overall, I think this is a strong score by Burwell. From my perspective, which favours a more orchestral sound, I thought this was a definite improvement compared to his initial Twilight score (however for those who liked his style initially, you may not like this more orchestral approach as much). This album is slower paced than previous installments, and I would guess this is the calm before the storm for Breaking Dawn Pt 2. I loved Desplat's score for Breaking Moon, and I don't think this album beats that, however, it is a superior effort compared to Burwell's first score and Howard Shore's effort for Eclipse. I wish some of the tracks on the album were longer, and this was the only criticism I could find. An extended presentation of the themes in the form of a longer suite would have been welcome, but this is not a good enough reason not to buy the CD. I have no idea whether or not this will be the case, but with Desplat's scores to the Harry Potter scores for the finale Deathly Hallows Pt 1 and 2, I found Desplat's efforts to be vastly superior in the DHP2 compared to DHP1. If Burwell can find an extra gear for BDP2, and I have a feeling he will, the result will be something pretty epic for Breaking Dawn Part 2.