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PRIDE & PREJUDICE – Dario Marianelli

November 11, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

pride&prejudiceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jane Austen wrote her timeless classic of love and longing Pride & Prejudice in 1813, and in doing so introduced to the world what would in time become a classic of English literature. Austen’s story has been adapted for both the big and small screen on several occasions, arguably the most popular and acclaimed being the 1995 BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, with music by Carl Davis. This new version directed by Joe Wright stars Keira Knightly as the ‘quick minded, sharp witted’ Elizabeth Bennet, who in order to keep her family home secure and provide a future for her mother and sisters, is betrothed to the wealthy but passionless Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods). However, just as her family’s fortunes look as they are finally going to take a turn for the better, Elizabeth unexpected finds herself falling for the dour, taciturn Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), with whom she clashes both on a number of occasions… The film features an exceptional supporting cast, boasting the likes of Judi Dench, Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn, makes wonderful use of English locations (such as Chatsworth House in Derbyshire), and looks set to become one of the year’s most critically acclaimed motion pictures.

2005 has been the breakout year for Italian composer Dario Marianelli. He’s by no means a newcomer – he scored his first features in Britain and the Republic of Ireland as early as 1994, worked on critically acclaimed Anglo-Indian feature The Warrior in 1997, and scored another costume drama, I Capture the Castle, in 2001. However, this year has seen him make a real splash on the international scene with this score and Terry Gilliam’s fantasy The Brothers Grimm, and he has a plumb scoring assignment in the pipeline next year with the comic-book inspired action/drama V For Vendetta.

If one was to try to classify Marianelli’s score for Pride & Prejudice, possibly the most apt description would be ‘Patrick Doyle Lite’. His compositional style is similar to that which the celebrated Scottish composer adopted for another Austen adaptation, Sense & Sensibility, in 1995, right down to use of piano and strings as the lead instruments, the gently romantic tone, the soft pacing, and the overarching sense of ‘Englishness’ which permeates the entire score. Interestingly, Marianelli has stated that he was influenced directly by Beethoven’s early piano sonatas when he first started composing his score, and as such the resulting music enjoys a definite classical feel which should please listeners who enjoy work of that nature.

By far the most appealing aspects of the score are the piano solos, performed with grace and dexterity by world-renowned French virtuoso concert pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. In cues such as the mellifluous opening “Dawn”, the rolling “Georgiana”, the hopeful “Arrival at Netherfield”, the evocative and spacious “Liz on Top of the World”, and the slightly more downbeat “Secret Life of Daydreams”, the pianist more than shows why he is regarded as one of the best performers of his generation. By the time “Your Hands Are Cold”, “Mrs. Darcy” and the conclusive “Credits” kick in, Thibaudet and Marianelli are in full-on rapture mode, trying to encapsulate the passion and romance in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship through the beautifully realised piano performances and a sweeping, swooning orchestral accompaniment.

Other cues of note include “Stars and Butterflies”, a soothing duet for piano and woodwinds, and “Darcy’s Letter”, a turbulent and fast-paced string scherzo which briefly shatters the mood of calm created by the rest of the score, before developing into a sombrely attractive cello solo. In addition, one or two other cues stand out as interesting curiosities: “Meryton Town Hall” and “Can’t Slow Down” are frivolous jigs beset with fiddles of all kinds, and “Another Dance” is written in strict renaissance style, while both “The Militia Marches In” and “Postcard to Henry Purcell” are classical arrangements, the former of an old fife-and-drum US civil war song, the latter of one of the English baroque composer’s most enduring tunes, the rondeau from the 1677 work Abdelazar, which predates Austen’s novel by some 130 years!

Where Marianelli’s score is lacking, however, is in the thematic department. Although the actual listening experience is perfectly pleasant, and the intimate tones and textures which run throughout the score are enjoyably relaxing, very little of the music stays in the memory after the CD has finished playing. Ultimately, Marianelli has crafted a solemn, classically attractive, occasionally euphoric romantic poem which showcases Thibaudet’s talents perfectly, but doesn’t really have anything significantly superior to make it stand out from other scores in this crowded genre.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Dawn (2:40)
  • Stars and Butterflies (2:01)
  • The Living Sculptures of Pemberley (3:03)
  • Meryton Townhall (1:14)
  • The Militia Marches In (0:57)
  • Georgiana (1:37)
  • Arrival at Netherfield (1:42)
  • A Postcard to Henry Purcell (2:41)
  • Liz on Top of the World (1:24)
  • Leaving Netherfield (1:43)
  • Another Dance (1:15)
  • The Secret Life of Daydreams (1:56)
  • Darcy’s Letter (3:59)
  • Can’t Slow Down (1:11)
  • Your Hands Are Cold (5:25)
  • Mrs. Darcy (3:47)
  • Credits (4:47)

Running Time: 41 minutes 30 seconds

Decca B0005620-02 (2005)

Music composed by Dario Marianelli. Conducted and orchestrated by Benjamin Walfisch. Performed by The English Chamber Orchestra. Featured musical soloists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Aidan Broadbridge and Caroline Dale. Recorded and mixed by Nick Wollage. Edited by James Bellamy. Mastered by Andy Walter. Album produced by Dario Marianelli.

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