Here Come The Classics: Volume Six - Classic Film ThemesRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO 006 CD)
Format: CD (68 min)
Critic's Choice Vol. 1: Leonard Maltin's Favorite Movie Themes of the 90'sTaylor Bedell Entertainment
Released: July 5, 2000
Format: Digital (50 min)
Critic's Choice - Leonard Maltin's Best Movie Themes of the '90sAtlantic Records (92882-2)
Released: April 25, 2000
Format: CD (150 min)
Themes from The Phantom Menace and Other Film HitsVarese Sarabande (302 066 086 2 / VSD-6086)
Released: November 16, 1999
Format: CD (69 min)
Review: Shakespeare In Love
3 / 5 Stars
Joyous. Lush. These are the first two words that spring to mind when I think of this score. To be a little more specific, I suppose I should also add, "Absolut Brit".
So, let me start with my guess of who would not enjoy this score: those only out for action scores. With that said, I'll continue. The first track ("The Beginning of the Partnership") nicely sets the tone for the rest of the score. It's a light, fast-paced piece which provides a good feel for the film.
The premise of Shakespeare in Love is that William Shakespeare (wonderfully portrayed by Joesph Fiennes) has lost his will to write. He switches his attention from muse to muse until he finally encounters Viola (the ever-radiant Gwyneth Paltrow) who is auditioning for a role of Romeo - disguised as a man. As he learns her true identity, they fall in love, and his inspiration for Juliet is borne. The action of the film progresses along with his progress on his play, "Romeo and Juliet". His own experiences directly shape the progress of his play, and this is played out smartly, and quite amusingly.
Composer Stephen Warbeck is not content to leave the music as nothing more than a farcical romp (intelligently done though it is), and delves into some more foreboding themes when the occasion arises. Particularly with tracks such as Track 7 ("A New World"), and especially Track 12 ("News of Marlowe's Death"), he gives the music an extra dimension and more depth. The composer also makes use of instruments of the time such as harpsichord and wooden flute. This is used with good results in Track 4 ("The DeLesseps' Dance") for instance, in which Shakespeare and his muse meet on the ballroom floor.
There is no synthesizer, modern percussion, rock song, or other purely modern element of music here. The score is written, orchestrated, and performed in a very classical style. He relies primarily on strings, which works quite well considering the period in which the film is set. There is some nice choral work, especially in Track 16 ("The Play & The Marriage"). Here, the choir is used as a sad lament, mourning a marriage that should not be occuring as the rejected lover wallows.
The score that first came to mind for comparison is a rare one, Turtle Diary. This movie was a small British film starring Ben Kingsley and Glenda Jackson. The story bears no real resemblance, but I feel that the music does in so many aspects that I have to wonder if the composer is the same. I could not blame anyone for immediately thinking that this music will be identical to that for Howard's End, Remains of the Day, or some similar film. Although I am a fan of those scores, this feels more alive and less restrained. It certainly has its pent up moments, but on the whole, it feels more willing to "let go".
I'd give this CD two thumbs up. A fun score, but not a shallow one. If all you've got in your collection is Rocky and Star Wars, this may not be for you. Don't get me wrong, I've got Rocky 1, 2, 3 and 4 and about five different versions of each Star Wars score, but this one's a bit more refined (yes, I'm wallowing in snobbishness at this point....bear with me). So, give it a chance, take a listen, and try something new!
Note: Gwyneth Paltrow won a Golden Globe award for her role in this film. The film also won Best Screenplay and Best Film (Comedy/Musical) - check it out!!)
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