‘The Duchess’ – Soundtrack Review

The new film “The Duchess” is based on Amanda Foreman’s biography concerning the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish. An ancestor of Princess Diana, the Duchess was quite the celebrity in 18th-century England.

She was a player of her time, yet she was stuck in an unhappy relationship with her husband. She fell for a young politician, causing many problems for her family and beyond.

Keira Knightley (“Bend It Like Beckham,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Atonement”) stars as the Duchess of Devonshire; Ralph Fiennes (The “Harry Potter” movies, “The English Patient” and “Schindler’s List”) stars as the Duke of Devonshire. The cast also features Dominic Cooper and Charlotte Rampling. The movie is directed by Saul Dibb. 

The soundtrack is composed by Rachel Portman, who has written music for such movies as “Used People,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat,” “The Lake House,” “Mona Lisa Smile,” “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.”

In 1996, she was the first female composer to win an Academy Award for her score for “Emma.”  The score is lush, grand and sweeping. The music was performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which was conducted by David Snell.

Many of the pieces concerning Georgiana or Gee, have a musical theme running through them, such as “The Duchess,” “Gee and Gray Together in Bath,” “Gee Gives Up Baby.”

They get a little boring, so it’s nice to have the score broken up with Beethoven’s German Dance No. 10 in D Major from Twelve German Dances and Haydn’s Adagio from String Quartet Opus 1 No. 3 in D Major.

I enjoyed Portman’s mix of original and classical work.

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