3.5 / 5 Stars
Fans of Warbeck's Shakespeare in Love will be able to hear several rhythms, orchestrations, and cues in Proof that sound familiar; such fans, however, may be slightly dissatisfied. Though I found the 1998 Academy Awards a disappointment in the Best Music, Original Dramatic Score category – the award going to neither Saving Private Ryan nor The Thin Red Line – the category's Musical or Comedy counterpart was right on with Shakespeare in Love. But while Proof contains a number of the characteristics Warbeck brought to his 1998 score, overall, it falls short of Warbeck's earlier award-winner.
The main title of Shakespeare in Love is composed of a rhythmic string line with a legato theme coming in on top of that base, also played by the strings. Proof's main title is very similar in this regard. The rhythm is played by a plucked string: two staccato notes, then one long; the theme – smooth and flowing – comes in above this. The orchestration and chords also sound very much like Shakespeare in Love.
This was the reaction I had on a first listen, that it was a darker, slower Shakespeare in Love, that didn't really go anywhere and was somewhat boring on album. However, though structured similarly, Proof is more than a copycat, self-plagarized score from Warbeck. Both the rhythmic and thematic elements are entirely individual and only sound familiar because of the general structure, noted above. Proof's "1, 2, long 3" rhythm is nothing like the offbeat pattern of Shakespeare in Love, which has a bright and energetic theme overlaid, while Proof's is darker and gentle. Again, they sound alike only on a quick listen because of the structure and sound of the orchestrations.
This opening title is the first and title track, but the cue described above seems to represent the "proof" theme (as in mathematical proof, not simply the title), and these tracks make up a little less than half the album. Between these are tracks that are even slower than the theme, sometimes soloistic. Track 2, "Hope", opens with a solo piano, which is later joined by a string line. Other tracks like "Catherine", "The Kiss", and "The Chapel" remain serene blends of strings and piano chords with the occasional moving line woven in. Track 7, "Lost Days", is a very interesting track because it opens with the main title's rhythm, but where the string theme would be expected, the piano from "Hope" comes in instead.
Proof is a subtle score that may be quickly disregarded as a quiet rehashing of Warbeck's award-winner, but while there are a few components that give it a familiar sound, Proof stands on its own. Fans of Shakespeare in Love's energy and brightness may want to skip this one, but if you liked that score for the depth of the music, you may like Proof. It is gentle and dark at times and may take a few listens to appreciate. It is nice background music, but a careful listen is certainly worth the time.
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