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Sense and sensibility (Patrick Doyle, 1995)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Sense and sensibility (Patrick Doyle, 1995)

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“Sense and sensibility”, the famous English novel, got a new adaptation in 1995. Ang Lee directed the movie, while Emma Thompson wrote the script. She called her friend and frequent collaborator Patrick Doyle to write the score. The task was suited for the composer’s qualities because the movie needed a beautiful and sentimental score, subdued yet emotional, in tune with the way the character’s restricted feelings and with the way the story progressed.

Gentle is the word I’d choose to describe the music. “My father’s favorite”, the first cue to really capture my heart, is an exercise in romanticism and tenderness. The music has the clear stamp of the period in which the story takes place… Patrick Doyle said that the music had to be suppressed to match what was going on in the movie. He called this the “middle-class English motif”. The way the music sounds makes me appreciate even more the outbursts of emotion.

Each track is a separate and well defined piece and they all could very well be part of a concert. I feel like applauding after each of them. This is another score where I would have loved to have assisted at the recording sessions. The mood gets more mature and the song progresses. The music loses some of its joy and becomes more serious as the story enfolds. At both ends of the score, for the opening and closing credits, we have two songs beautifully sung by a dramatic soprano.

If you listen carefully and with an open heart you will be able to appreciate the fragile flute in “Patience” or “Grant me an interview”, the chamber music sound of “All the delights of the season” or the delightful harp in “Excellent notion”. You actually feel like you are part of those times, you look around and expect to be surrounded by people dressed in period clothes, acting all serious and obeying the rules of those times. “Sense and sensibility” is a nice way to travel back in time and have a fantasy about an entirely different way of life.

Of course, if one is to appreciate this tender and beautiful score, one has to be in a certain mood. You have to be relaxed and ready to embrace such a listening experience. If you rush through it or don’t pay attention to it you might miss its marvelous subtleties. Just like a British movie, the score lacks superficiality and shouldn’t be treated with it. But if you are in the right mood, you will surely discover a treasure of joyful and romantic orchestral music in “Sense and sensibility”.

Cue rating: 75 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33/43

Album excellence: 76%

Highlights:

Weep You No More Sad Fountains
My Father’s Favorite
Preying Penniless Woman
Devonshire
Felicity
Patience
Grant Me An Interview
All The Delights Of The Season
Steam Engine
Willoughby
Miss Grey
Excellent Notion
Combe Magna
To Die For Love
Throw The Coins

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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