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