A summary of the music in P&P posted on AUSTEN-L by Doug Short:
] search Doug AND piano in austen-l Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 14:58:39 -0400 From: Doug Short Subject: The Music of P&P2 Regarding the CD soundtrack for _Pride and Prejudice_, It contains 24 tracks, each with a descriptive title: "Winter into Spring," "The Gardiners, " etc. Five of the tracks feature the fortepianist Melvyn Tan in cadenza-like pastiches from each of the first five episodes. While the CD has none of the source music from the production (the period dance music and compositions), it's nevertheless a welcome addition to my collection. In fact, it has enriched my project of the week, which is to compare the BBC/A&E production of P&P with the earlier one from BBC. At the risk of annoying the S&S discussants with yet another digression, I'd like to share some observations on the music of the new P&P. The Carl Davis Compositions I've now watched the BBC/A&E production more times than I'd care to admit to anyone outside this listserv, but it was not until listening to the soundtrack alone that I've begun to appreciate the skill that Carl Davis brought to the production. The music of the opening credits provides the germ for much of overall soundtrack. In the CD liner notes, Davis is quoted as wanting to communicate two ideas with the opening music, first the story's "wit and vitality, its modern feel, and something of the character of Elizabeth and her family." The second concerns "marriage and affairs of the heart." By my analysis the opening music is structured in ABB form and consists of 30 bars in a lively 6/8 tempo. The first phrase (10 bars) conveys the "wit and vitality" with an underlying 16th note pulse. The second, more lyrical theme, is also a ten-bar phrase, repeated once to round out the opening credits. Davis features these two themes throughout the production, varying them in tonality, tempo and orchestration to suit the context. There is a brief horn motive in the first theme (measure 7) that, according to Davis, "picks up one of the main drives of the book, the hunt for husbands!" Another theme that complements the first two in shaping the soundtrack is heard for the first time as Darcy bathes in his copper tub and then watches Elizabeth frolic outdoors with the dog (CD track 3 "Elizabeth Observed"). It's a Davis composition, but it strikes me as highly suggestive of the second movement of Schubert's Quintet in C. This theme recurs throughout the production, where it's associated not only with Darcy's feelings for Elizabeth, but also with Pemberley; it's the music heard as the Gardiner party approaches the estate. For Mr. Collins Davis composed a delightfully comic melody featuring a bassoon in an unusual role as the lead instrument (track 5 "Canon Collins"). It immediately invites comparison with a similar musical characterization of Mr. Collins in the earlier BBC production. Another character associated with her own very distinctive theme is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. With a brilliantly apt musical pun, Davis gives us a textbook example of a French overture, or at least the stately minor-key dotted-rhythm opening of a French overture (CD Track 10 "Rosings"). Naturally enough, this music also accompanies her Longbourn arrival and departure. In a sense the Longbourn episode implies a complete French overture in the familiar ABA form. It's as if Lady Catherine's verbal duel with Elizabeth supplies the central fugal section. Another distinctive theme that serves a more complex purpose is first heard as the Bingley party departs Netherfield. It has a somewhat fussy march-like feel that I first took to suggest Miss Bingley's efforts to end her brother's interest in Jane, a notion that is reinforced by the reprise when Carolyn visits Jane in London. The theme subsequently takes on a broader import, for is heard again in connection with Darcy's role in the matter, as disclosed in his letter. But more puzzling is its association with Lydia and Wickham at their wedding and again when they visit Longbourn. Musically the theme works perfectly in the latter context. It's tempting to deduce some sort of larger connection hinted at by a lightmotif. But such speculation requires a more academic analysis of the subject than I'm disposed to offer. There are many other musical riches that reward careful attention to the soundtrack: The lively melody associated with the Gardiners and the music of Bingley's return to Netherfield (both of which make effective use of horn motives), the poignant accompaniment to Elizabeth's anguish over Darcy's letter (CD track 12), the farewell to the regiment (CD track 13), the delicate theme linked to Miss Darcy at the time of her elopement, the cadential motive heard both times Darcy discovers the infamous Wickham -- these are among my favorites. The Period Music The period music of the production falls into two broad categories -- the delightful dance music that hasn't survived in the repertoire and the bits and snatches of melody that have. Of the former, all I can say is that I'd pay a premium price for a CD that gave me all dances used in the production (I believe Birtwistle and Conklin mention in _The Making of Pride and Prejudice_ that there are 15 of them. In his pastiche for the second episode, Melvyn Tan does quote a measure or two of "Mr Beveridge's Maggot," the music of Elizabeth and Darcy's dance at Netherfield -- just enough to make me long for the rest of it! As for the selections from the standard repertoire, there are a number of salient features that many of you will have noticed: Mary certainly likes her Handel. We hear her in hammering away at "The Harmonious Blacksmith" at Lucas Lodge, and of course the famous Largo from his opera Xerxes is her initial contribution at Netherfield. After Mr. Bennet rescues the ball from Mary's second number, Mrs. Hurst trumps the Bennet performance by tearing through the 3rd (alla turca) movement of Mozart's piano sonata in A, K.332. Mozart appears to have been the favorite classical composer of the production. As the Bennets arrive for the ball at Netherfield, we hear the march from the finale of Act III of the Marriage of Figaro. Lizzy especially likes Mozart; at Rosings she plays the first movement of the SAME sonata that Mrs. Hurst played at Netherfield. And at Pemberley she sings Cherubino's aria "Voi che sapete" from Act I of the Marriage of Figaro (the lyrics of which describe Cherubino's confused feelings of love for the Countess!). An instrumental reprise of the aria is heard later in the production. In one of the most affecting uses of period music, Miss Darcy follows Elizabeth's aria with Beethoven's Andante in F (also know as the Andante Favori). This is the scene in which Miss Bingley mentions Wickham in an effort to embarrass Elizabeth, but she unwittingly disconcerts Miss Darcy instead. Elizabeth quickly rejoins Georgiana at the piano, and the music swells into a rich orchestral transcription while Elizabeth and Darcy exchange meaningful gazes from across the room. What a moment! A less memorable instance of period music took place earlier at Netherfield when Miss Bingley attempted to ease the tension of the verbal fisticuffs between Elizabeth and Darby by rushing to the piano and dashing off the same piece that Mrs. Kuenzelmann, the piano teacher of my youth, tortured me with. Less memorable indeed -- I can't recall what it is, but I think it might be a Haydn rondo in Gypsy style. Yikes! This note has swelled into far more than I intended. Again, my apologies to the participants in the S&S thread for another wayward missive. Doug Short PS -- The CD is available in the US as Angel 7243 8 36090 2 4 (I paid about $13).
NOTE: What Doug omits from his post is that the second piece of music played by Georgiana at Pemberley is the second movement of Sonatina 4 by Muzio Clementi.