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Becoming Jane Soundtrack (2007)
Composer: Adrian Johnston
Soloists: Marcia Crawford, Gaby Lester and Aidan Broadbridge (violin), Vicci Wardman (viola), Anthony Pleeth (cello), John Linehan (piano) and Lynda Lee (soprano)
Sony Classical 88697-10429-2
23 Tracks
Running Length: 50 minutes

Becoming Jane is a film version of author Jane Austen (1775-1817) as a teenager. Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada”) portrays Jane, while James McAvoy is the young lawyer she is supposed to have fallen in love with. The film explores their relationship and the aftermath. Becoming Jane  is rated PG for brief nudity and language. The time period is about 1793,  when young women looked for advantageous marriages rather than careers.

Composer Adrian Johnston has provided the listener with a lush soundtrack that evokes the English countryside, a trip to the city, County Fair and a longing that is in the background throughout. Tracks one and twenty-three bring the story full circle. Jane Austen’s life had a main focus---writing---and was sidetracked by a romance. The selections, “First Impressions” and “A Last Reading” are eloquent, with solo violin accompanied by piano and the theme alternating between major and minor. Both selections have well-integrated arrangements.

“Bond Street Airs” is reminiscent of a street scene, with strings and piano alternating the melody. To hear the piece by itself, you may think this could have come from a Charles Dickens’ film. “A Game of Cricket” has a moving cello solo, while “Selbourne Wood” once again has piano solo, interspersed with strings. Soprano Lynda Lee is the soloist for Mozart’s “Deh Vieni Non Tardar” from “Le Nozze of Figaro.” She has an precise voice and the selection is a highlight here. Her accompanist is John Linehan.

“To The Ball” is melancholy with a pleasing arrangement of piano sitting atop strings. “Mrs. Radcliffe” is similar in tone. “Runaways” on the other hand, is romantically styled, utilizing piano solo to tell the story of what is being planned. The final track, “A Last Reading” begins longingly with a piano solo and then segues into full orchestra. The story finishes as the melody softly winds down.

Often, soundtrack releases will have snippets of melodies and give the listener nothing to grasp. This is not the case here, though some selections may be shorter than others (one and a half-minutes to four minutes), they are complete. The music gives us a background for Jane Austen who was torn between writing and finding a suitable husband, which was expected of women at that time. Melodies are definite, but always in the background with strings, is a certain melancholy, a certain unhappiness with society at that time. As it stands, this soundtrack has pleasing melodies, is well orchestrated and typifies the story. It makes one long for a day in the English countryside. 

Copyright 2007 Marie Asner
Submitted 8/13/07