Jacqueline Pook explains how she became immersed in the writing of the music to "The Merchant of Venice."When Michael Radford first approached me about writing the music for his film The Merchant of Venice in the summer of 2003, a few months before shooting began, he felt strongly that the score should have a contemporary feel to it as well as evoking something of the period in which it is set, the late sixteenth century. At first I had to work quickly to provide music for certain scenes in the film which needed to be shot to the music: in scenes with court musicians playing or singing in vision. Some of these I based on existing medieval or renaissance themes, others, including all the vocal pieces (except Song in Brothel) I wrote myself, setting them to various texts from the period, with the exception of Bridal Ballad where I have used a text by Edgar Allan Poe." "
The Merchant of Venice is brought to life by the music of composer Jocelyn Pook and the extraordinary voices of singing sensation Hayley Westenra and counter-tenor Andreas Scholl. The Merchant of Venice original score CD (Decca) is a beautiful, stirring collection of old and new music, brought to life through old instruments, superb performers and original recordings. Baroque violin, lute, theorbo, qanun, cornet and sackbuts were some of the exotic instruments used in this music. Jacqueline Pook researched the instruments and tunes of this era. She has a blend of medieval, baroque and renaissance elements which is striking. The Baroque Singers add their voices to the extraordinary music.
One of the most unique pieces, "Bridal Ballad," features a text by Edgar Allan Poe sung by 17-year-old New Zealander Hayley Westenra, and solo viola performed by the composer (Pook studied and excels in all aspect of the viola). Jacquelyn Pook wrote the score for Stanley Kubrick's" Eyes Wide Shut" and Laurent Cantet's "Time Out (L'emploi du temps)" and they have established her as a highly original composer of screen music. Dionysus, the first track on Untold Things, her most recent CD, features in Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York".
Andrew Granade tell us that "There has long been a debate, at least among followers of film music, as to how a period film should best be scored. Throughout most of Hollywood's golden age, the standard symphonic genre was used no matter when the film was set. But this is a bit of an anachronism (and a large one in cases like Ben-Hur, for example) since the first recorded symphony was not until 1732. Because of this fact, many have argued, a more period approach should be used in historical pieces. Jacquelyn Pook was on hand during filming and had to write most of the dances and songs used in the film before commencing work on the full score. This gave her a basis from which to work. She then immersed herself in Renaissance music and used the sounds that resonated with her as an influence rather than attempting to recreate actual Renaissance music. This made the difference."
To an untrained ear this score is exquisitely beautiful. A piece of music that is atmospheric, moving, lyrical, hypnotic at times and seems to combine the old with the new. Jacquelyn Pook has written a magical score and sometimes that is all you need, BK.
Highly recommended. prisrob 6-03-06