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Shakespeare in Love
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Produced by:
Stephen Warbeck

Conducted and Co-Orchestrated by:
Nick Ingram

Sony Classical

Release Date:
December 8th, 1998

Also See:
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Dangerous Beauty

Audio Clips:
1. The Beginning of the Partnership (0:32):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (267K)
Real Audio (166K)

11. The Brawl (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

21. Curtain Call (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

23. The End (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Winner of an Academy Award and nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Grammy Award.

Shakespeare in Love

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Sales Rank: 42848

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Buy it... if you seek a charming souvenir from the film, with consistently pleasant tones that competently mirror the enthusiastic and lightweight drama on screen.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear more than two performances of the score's famous, bubbly title theme, which, along with the other themes, is poorly developed and ultimately unsatisfying in its brevity.

Shakespeare in Love: (Stephen Warbeck) Charming its way through the Oscars against arguably superior 1998 competition, Shakespeare in Love is a culmination of significant British talent on both sides of the camera. British director John Madden seemed destined for greatness at the time, and few could argue with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Rush in memorable roles. Because of her "most favored status" at Miramax, American Gwyneth Paltrow plays the muse who inspires the story of "Romeo and Juliet" for struggling playwright William Shakespeare. The two conduct a love affair while she pretends to be a man in order to star in his haphazard 1593 play, and the undeniable wit of the script (dealing continuously smart comments from Shakespeare's tongue) is the production's major attraction. Above all, however, the film's exuberant spirit and playful heart lured Academy voters and mainstream audiences, despite the predictably bittersweet end to the tale. Fitting in its role perfectly is composer Stephen Warbeck's score, which rode the success of the film to its own Oscar win. Warbeck was by no means a household name, even in his native Britain, where his collaboration with Madden had brought his most high profile film score in the form of Mrs. Brown the previous year. There was significant speculation in 1999 that Warbeck would go on to international fame, but after a couple of moderate dramatic entries and the continued collaboration with Madden, his career never attained the notoriety it suggested at the time of Shakespeare in Love. The score for that movie remains a bittersweet aspect of the film itself, providing a quite decent and occasionally strong accompaniment for the topic but missing so many opportunities for greatness that it frustrates at the same time. A chipper attitude is key to Warbeck's music, with even the cues of suspense or solitude performed with such a light orchestral touch that never does any sense of danger emerge. It's almost a period fantasy score, lofty and whimsical in its thematic presentation while flowing through static rhythms with little regard for synchronization points in the film or any urgency to develop its own ideas beyond the very basic molds on which Warbeck seems to have based the foundation of the score.

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Warbeck's music for Shakespeare in Love works in the film and is nothing less than an undemanding and pleasant listening experience on album, but it by no means deserves the hype that it received at the time. His handling of his own themes is the work's greatest weakness. Warbeck offers three themes in Shakespeare in Love, and the most memorable is actually the least explored. The most vibrant and enthusiastic theme is the title piece, heard in full only in "The Beginning of the Partnership" and "The Brawl." This purely fluffy affair is most commonly considered the score's main theme, though it more accurately represents the Rose Theater and its crew. It's a lovely theme that very well establishes the tone of the film immediately, and it's an absolute shame that it only receives two major treatments in the film itself. Mixed within the bouncing rhythms of this theme are hints of the score's other two ideas. One is used as a slightly more tense representation of nerves and rebellion. Heard in "Viola's Audition," this interlude to the previous theme sometimes moves with the same excitement as the theatre's theme, but it is also called upon for moments of anxiety throughout the score (and especially in the preparations for the final, pivotal performance). The love theme for Will and Viola is fleeting throughout the score, but is a more dramatically fluid idea that is only hinted at throughout the score before its monumental ensemble performance in "The End." Most of the time, these themes are conveyed by string layers, but are occasionally accented by solo trumpet or woodwind. The style of the period is addressed by occasional wooden flute and harpsichord contributions, though acoustic guitar and tapping percussion provide warmth to some of the score's more intimate moments. Overall, the work can be quite drab in its attempt to address the somber elements of the story; only a faint soprano voice in "The Play and the Marriage" provides colorful relief from the absolute consistency in the score's tone. Listeners will gravitate back to the two delightful performances of the title theme. Ultimately, this is a film for which Rachel Portman could have written a more addictive score in her sleep, and for which George Fenton could have penned a classic. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Stephen Warbeck reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.29 (in 7 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.23 (in 9,009 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.83 Stars
Smart Average: 3.63 Stars*
***** 2069 
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         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   Re: Soundtrack is good, but I want Costume ...
  Johannes Ruckstuhl -- 4/25/11 (4:41 a.m.)
  B artosz -- 3/15/05 (4:03 a.m.)
   No heard music
  Jay Temple -- 11/24/03 (11:09 p.m.)
   Soundtrack is good, but I want Costume Desi...
  Jennie Nichols -- 6/30/03 (3:52 p.m.)
   great soundtrack
  Nunya Bidniss -- 6/3/03 (11:54 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 55:19

• 1. The Beginning of the Partnership (2:00)
• 2. Viola's Audition (3:21)
• 3. A Plague of Both Your Houses (1:40)
• 4. The De Lesseps' Dance (2:59)
• 5. A Daughter's Duty (0:47)
• 6. In Viola's Room (2:54)
• 7. A New World (1:39)
• 8. Love & The Rehearsal (4:19)
• 9. The Arrival of Wessex (1:17)
• 10. Greenwich (0:52)
• 11. The Brawl (3:13)
• 12. News of Marlowe's Death (2:52)
• 13. Love & The End of the Tragedy (2:11)
• 14. The Missing Scene (1:42)
• 15. The Fight (2:20)
• 16. The Play & The Marriage* (2:09)
• 17. Wessex Loses a Bride (1:51)
• 18. The Prologue (1:30)
• 19. The Play (part I) (2:25)
• 20. The Play (part II) (3:56)
• 21. Curtain Call (2:31)
• 22. Farewell (1:30)
• 23. The End (5:06)

* soprano solo by Catherine Bott

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The music was recorded at CTS Studios in London between October 6th and 9th, 1998.

  All artwork and sound clips from Shakespeare in Love are Copyright © 1998, Sony Classical. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/30/98 and last updated 3/29/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.