A Grammy-winning Glasgow composer who wrote the Love Actually score is releasing an album of extended versions to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary. 

Craig Armstrong has adapted, extended and reworked his songs for the 2003 Richard Curtis Christmas classic, which stars an ensemble cast including Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy. 

And the first track of Love Actually – The Love Themes For Orchestra is one particularly close to his heart. 

The Shettleston-born composer said: “Of the original compositions for Love Actually, Glasgow Love Theme is one of my favourites.

“It was written here, in Glasgow, 20 years ago, and I’m so pleased to have had the chance to go full circle and write the extended full version as I had always imagined it.

"My thanks go out to all the musicians involved in making the Love Actually score so loved.”

The Herald: Craig ArmstrongCraig Armstrong (Image: Simon Murphy)

The 15 tracks on the new album are updated versions of the most poignant, moving parts of the film, including Croissants In France, which fans will recognise from the lost in translation love story of Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz).

While Glasgow Love Theme soundtracks the unrequited love between Mark (Andrew Lincoln) and his best friend's wife Juliet (Keira Knightley). 

It was the first romantic comedy soundtrack for Armstrong, who had previously worked on Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! The Great Gatsby, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. 

He said: “Of course, I had no idea at the time this film would go on to be so loved, and it’s a testament to all the crafts involved in filmmaking that lead to it being the success it is today.”

Armstrong said director Richard Curtis gave him one piece of advice – not to worry about writing the comedy, but more to the emotion of the film.

This new album fulfils Armstrong’s long-held ambition to create fuller versions of his now classic compositions.

The Herald: The album cover for Love Actually: The Love Themes of OrchestraThe album cover for Love Actually: The Love Themes of Orchestra (Image: Other)

Due to the inevitable process of film editing, Armstrong’s cues were often cut down to shorter versions within the film’s scenes. But revisiting the score has allowed the Grammy winner to write fuller versions for the album. 

Now fans can listen to the soaring score as originally intended, bringing poignant moments from the film to life. 

The PM's Love Theme instantly recalls the scene when Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant) finally decides to pursue his love of former co-worker Natalie (Martine McCutchen) by braving a visit to the "dodgy" end of Wandsworth and singing carols on doorsteps. 

While the opening score conjures up that moment in the airport, when Hugh Grant's voiceover tells us he has a sneaky feeling that "love, actually is all around". 

And Wrapping The Necklace reminds us of the tragic betrayal of Harry (Alan Rickman) to his wife Emma Thomson, and of Rowan Atkinson's comedic cameo as the jewellery counter worker. 

The recordings have been performed by the Budapest Art Orchestra and conducted by Peter Pejtsik.

Working mostly from his Glasgow studio or on location with the film, Armstrong has composed scores for a wide range of both Hollywood and independent movies.

From Peter Mullan’s directorial debut, The Close Trilogy, to the BAFTA, Ivor Novello and Golden Globe winning award scores for Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! Armstrong's music has enhanced numerous movies. 

The composer has also worked on Far From the Madding Crowd, Snowden, and Ray, a biographical picture about Ray Charles starring Jamie Foxx, for which he won a Grammy award. 

In 2018 he completed work on the critically acclaimed Mrs Lowry and Son, directed by Adrian Noble. Armstrong has since composed scores for Norman Stone’s, The Most Reluctant Convert, Dirt Music, and The Burnt Orange Heresy, with new films scored for release in 2023 for Anand Tucker, The Critic, and The Great Escaper by director Olly Parker.

He has also worked on concert commissions from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hebrides Ensemble and the Barbican Stockhausen Festival.

Armstrong’s second Scottish Opera commission, The Lady From The Sea, premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012, winning the Herald Angel Award. 

With this album release, Armstrong hopes to have created an added listening experience for both fans of the classic film and film enthusiasts generally.

Love Actually – The Love Themes For Orchestra is available to stream on Spotify and purchase now.