The Duchess (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Director Saul Dibbs’ period piece/examination of the personal and political intrigues of aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, won an Academy Award for its 18th-century costume recreations. Yet while English composer Rachel Portman’s elegant, bittersweet score makes bowings to similar epoch conceits, its musical essence is actually a masterful sleight of hand that wraps expected period chamber orchestra trappings around a forcefully modern soul that’s evident from its stately title motif. Portman’s musical forte has long been portraying the interior landscape, and her cues here range from sunny interpolations of Beethoven and Haydn to her own more brooding, introspective cues. Yet the more conflicted and complex the personality, the subtler she uses her musical palette, with this score being another fine example of that masterful, instinctive artistic restraint.