House of Cards: Seasons 3 & 4

Composed By: Jeff Beal

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                House of Cards is a Netflix original dramatic series starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a Democrat and former House Majority Whip who, with the help of his wife, Claire (Robin Wright) and a number of others, finally ascends to his goal - the Presidency.  The third season of House of Cards takes place six months after Frank's Presidential appointment and finds Frank dealing with growing opposition in his party and within his own home.  The fourth season picks up where the third left off, with Frank and Claire at odds, an assassination attempt and a declaration of war.

                The musical score of House of Cards was created by American composer Jeff Beal.  Becoming an accomplished trumpet player and a jazz performer, Beal first received notice for his scoring with his composition of the Pollock film score.  Since then, he has created scores for a number of films, including Appaloosa, Door to Door, Monk, Ugly Betty, Last Call at the Oasis, The Queen of Versailles, The Dove Keepers and more. 

                The House of Cards: Season 3 Soundtrack is a two-disc album featuring orchestral sound that changes as the events of the season unfold.  We are treated to music that is sometimes classical, sometimes jazz, exotic and often containing ominous undertones.  The fast-paced strings of the main theme continue on throughout the album, representing Frank Underwood's cunning vision of greatness.  The music becomes more and more ominous as the walls against Frank's plans continue to grow.  The House of Cards: Season 4 Soundtrack, also a two-disc album, is even darker still.

                 According to Jeff Beal, "Beau Willimon [House of Cards creator] felt season three was all about President Underwood needing to govern.  The energy of those storylines, such as America Works, and the Middle East negotiations with the Russian President Petrovhad their own sound...Season three was a crucial season for the relationship of Frank and Claire.  The dramatic arc and disintegration of trust and respect between the Underwoods needed its own voice in the music."  For Season 4, Beal took yet another approach, "Season four has a sense of struggle and conflict. The estranged relationship of Frank and Claire Underwood, and a presidential campaign both have an urgency and pace with underscores the mood.  Tracks such as ‘Make The Terror,’ ‘Any Less Hurtful’ & ‘Obedience’ have a percussive underbelly; helped along immensely by performances by drum master Peter Erskine...Beau Willimon and I discussed the idea of getting down the essence of our characters in season four - to distill the music to pure emotive terms. As I listen back to this collection I can’t help but think of the ways we tried to strip away any artifice or false notes, any extraneous plot driven gestures.  ‘Help You Win’ is a requiem of almost unbearable sadness and loss, ‘Remy Danton’ a simple hymn of longing, and ‘Perfectly Timed Exit’ pure Viennese romance."

                Fans of Jeff Beal's work and House of Cards will delight at owning the musical scores of both the third and fourth seasons of the series.  Listening to the music will help them relive their favorite scenes, allowing them to experience the various subtle nuances that often are missed when the visuals overpower the background music. 


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