Monday, January 31, 2011

Even Anne Hathaway's Vocals Could Not Save The Twelfth Night Soundtrack!

The Good: Asthetically interesting instrumental pieces
The Bad: Short, Very limited, Short durations of songs make this incidental music largely.
The Basics: Despite three chances to hear Anne Hathaway sing a few of Shakespeare's lines, Twelfth Night is largely a fractured instrumental album without enough to sustain it out-of-context.

My wife believes I am obsessed with Anne Hathaway and tonight I cannot credibly argue with her. The reason I am unable to denying my appreciation of Anne Hathaway's works is that her vocals are featured on three of the songs on the Twelfth Night Soundtrack by Hem and after months of disinterest in this album, learning that Hathaway was involved made me rush out and pick it up.

Now I wish I hadn't.

Twelfth Night features the music composed by Hem with lyrics written by William Shakespeare. This was the soundtrack to the Public Theater's production of Twelfth Night in New York City that ran in the summer of 2009. As a result, the album is both hardly the written works of Hem and hardly an album at all.

Instead, with twenty-eight tracks that add up to a running time of under forty minutes, the album is a random collection of musical interludes. Bouncing between instrumentals performed by the Illyrian Marching Band and Gowanus Radio Orchestra, this is a fractured collection of mood music that sounds a lot like the musical breaks before and after commercials ...if there had been such things in Shakespeare's time. As a result, most of the songs are under a minute in duration and do not have enough time to develop a theme or tune.

Instead, this is almost random utterances by the flute, harp, clarinet and a few stringed instruments that sounds like what is strummed by performers at a local Renaissance Faire. In fact, the only songs that have memorable tunes to them are "Hey Robin, Jolly Robin" and "The Wind And The Rain," both of which are pieces with lyrics and vocals by actors from the play. But even those songs are little more than jigs or jaunty little tunes with simple, repetitive lines like "I am gone, sir, / And anon, sir, / I’ll be with you again, / In a trice, / Like to the old vice" ("I Am Gone, Sir").

Shakespeare's words certainly have a music to them and Dan Meese does a decent job of creating incidental music that sounds like it would be appropriate for the time and place of a Shakespeare play. But songs like "Not Too Fast! Soft, Soft!" are instrumental pieces that seem designed solely to change a mood and out of context, they feel like pieces of a conversation the listener is not privy to the rest of.

In fact, the entire Twelfth Night Soundtrack suffers because the musical snippets lack context, a building theme or even duration long enough to make listeners feel something before the track changes to the next song. This, alas, is the death knell of the album and one which not even Anne Hathaway's dulcet tones may save the album from.

For other soundtrack reviews, please check out my reviews of:
The Red Violin Soundtrack
The Last Of The Mohicans Soundtrack
Magnolia Soundtrack


For other music reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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