What Happens When A Soundtrack Ditches Classical Music's Rules?
In a move bound to delight new listeners but sure to raise the hackles of classical music purists, the new soundtrack for Whit Stillman’s film “Love & Friendship” takes the work of over a dozen composers and blends them together to create a pleasing listening experience akin to the “Baroque Greats” channel on Pandora.
“Love & Friendship” is set in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and while there’s a bit of Beethoven, and some newly-written music by Benjamin Esdraffo on the program, the music of Vivaldi, Handel, Purcell, Boyce and other baroque masters makes up the majority of this disc. The real revolutionary thing about the soundtrack is its sequencing. Instead of whole selections—nay, instead of even whole movements—the album strings together shorter excerpts of the music. Forty-three seconds of a Beethoven sonata? One minute of Handel’s “Cor di Padre?” It could be a recipe for disaster, but instead it all works to create a seamless suite of early symphonic sound.
Kudos to music supervisor Mark Suozzo, who has worked with Stillman ever since arranging a two-handed piano version of Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau” for the 1990 film “Metropolitan.” Here, Suozzo has created a tuneful sequence of music that in spite of its rat-a-tat pacing (only four of the 27 tracks on this disc are over two minutes long!) and diverse sources, feels like it was meant to be. This soundtrack album has great crossover potential and if Stillman’s film is a success (it’s currently 99% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes), that can only mean good things for winning new audiences to classical music. Snobs, go home.