Joel McNeely

Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal

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Possessing none of the tabloid sensationalism its title would imply, the score to the CBS television miniseries Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal represents the most mature and heartfelt work of Joel McNeely's career to date -- deftly fusing elements of Americana with classical European traditions, it possesses a depth and scope recalling the golden age of Hollywood music. Incorporating melodies from Beethoven and Corelli, McNeely creates a potently romantic atmosphere underlined by a palpable sense of melancholy -- while dramatic themes like "The French Revolution" at times rise to the fore, intimacy dominates, enabling listeners to properly savor the complexity of the thematic structure. McNeely's liner notes state that the score was "created in chaos" in under five weeks, but in hindsight it seems this is the music he was destined to create from the beginning of his career.