April 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Patrick DOYLE
Gosford Park  
Vocals: Jeremy Northam (as Ivor Novello) and Abigail Doyle;
Piano: Christopher Northam
  DECCA 470 387-2   [51:07]

Gosford Park

One of the main characters in Robert Altman's multi-Oscar-nominated film is Ivor Novello invited to entertain (not without considerable and consistent disapproval from Maggie Smith's snooty dowager character) the idle rich gathered together for a weekend's shooting and general debauchery at Gosford Park. Ivor Novello's songs delivered with great Novello-like panache and laid-back style by Jeremy Northam, himself, perfectly reflects the atmosphere of above-stairs condescension and ennui – particularly Novell's droll and ironic 'What a Duke Should Be' – "I'm doughty, I'm gouty, I'm wonderful to see…" .

Around Novello's songs, plus two others scored by himself with pungent lyrics by Altman himself ('Only for a While' for instance that points to the motive for the murder), Doyle weaves a spare dramatic, characterful and atmospheric score. "I chose the clarinet for the upstairs characters wherever possible," he says in the booklet notes, " and the accordion, for example, for those working downstairs." In 'Secrets to Hide' and 'Carpe Diem' there is a little beyond repetitious yet effective ostinatos, the former for piano and violin and the latter for violin and guitar. Two period-correct jazz-based cues are incorporated: the breezy 'Walking to Shoot' and the smoochy music for Inspector Thomson but the prevailing mood of Doyle's music is of melancholy memories and regret, feminine and maternal.

An entertaining combination of original music and Novello's urbane source songs

Ian Lace


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