French director Valérie Donzelli’s 2013 film Que d’Amour! is part of a series of films that take dramas staged at the Théâtre-Français, Paris and transfers them to the screen. Using actors from the Théâtre-Français, and with a limited budget and time to film, Donzelli’s film is an adaptation of the French playwright Marivaux’s romantic comedy, Le Jeu de L’Amour et du Hazard. The story centres on a couple who are to married but who have never met. To get to know what type of person each will be marrying, they each decide – independently – to play the part of their respective servants for when they first meet. Confusion ensues before, inevitably, they fall in love with one another. Donzelli’s film has an original score written by London-based French composer Philippe Jakko, whose strong score for the 2014 World War Two drama, Allies, has recently been released by MovieScore Media.
The most obvious aspect of Jakko’s score is the strong baroque feel the music has, featuring flamboyant string passaged supplemented with bright flute and other woodwinds and, of course, the harpsichord. The composer also uses piano and celeste doubling with glockenspiel, with the piano providing a means of adding a level of reflection to the overall feel to the music (particularly as a solo instrument) and the use of celeste and glockenspiel countering the piano, adding a bright and fairy-like quality to the music. Jakko’s style and orchestration choices are very appropriate for a romantic comedy (which, I imagine, in this setting could have an element of farce associated with it), and the choice of the baroque style for the score is perhaps a nod back to the musical style popular at the time when Marivaux’s play was first staged (1730).
The opening cue, “Rue de La Paix”, begins with a string and flute ostinato of increasing volume that fuels a sense of anticipation. A flourish of harp and percussion leads into a full statement of Jakko’s baroque-style theme; a piece of music that’s out of the top drawer. The strings of the Macedonian Radio Symphony Orchestra give a spirited version of this wonderful theme which is then passed between flute and oboe before the cue comes to a satisfying conclusion (a short “Making of..” video featuring footage from the recording sessions for this and other tracks can be found HERE). The theme reappears several times during the score with the composer using a number of different instruments to alter the feel of the theme. The slowing of the tempo in “Adagio Mineur” and “Adagio Majeur”, plus the rather sombre feel to the accompanying strings, accentuates the descending theme fragments that are passed between the flute and oboe and now gives the theme a reflective tone. A slow, and slightly off-kilter, statement later in “Arlequin et Le Cléf” again gives the theme a quality that is far removed from what was heard in the opening track. The score ends with the joyous “Final “Alla Delerue””, where Jakko gives his music to the whole 25-piece orchestra ensemble who take turns in stating and embellishing his most excellent theme. The cue sparkles with life and energy and is given the added twist by the inclusion of a subtle beat on double bass which is reminiscent of Delerue’s treatment of his own thematic material in the 1979 film, A Little Romance. The homage to composer Georges Delerue – who was frequently inspired by the baroque period – hints at the request to Jakko by Donzelli to write music peppered with musical references to other composers (including though not limited to composers of the baroque period). Though not featuring the main theme, “Chaconne (Dans Le Style de Vivaldi)” is a case in point. Inspired by the music of Antonio Vivaldi, this spritely-played piece fizzes with baroque exuberance, the strings and harpsichord moving through a number of variations of the cue’s basic melodic idea.
The composer provides a nice counterbalance to the pace and enthusiasm of the baroque with a number of tracks for solo piano that relate to the romantic aspects of the story. As well as the aforementioned “Arlequin et Le Cléf” and, its slow tempo rendition of the main theme, cues such as “Un Ange Passe” (influenced by another classical composer, this time Franz Schubert) and “Le Hall de L’Hôtel, Pt. 1” give the listener time to draw breath. Although written for the blossoming romance between the film’s protagonists, Jakko’s music also adds a sense of reflection hinting that the path to love is not a smooth one. In fact, “Le Hall de L’Hôtel, Pt. 2” seems to have a subtle sense of sadness about it.
Que d’Amour! is a relatively short album, running to just under 30 minutes. Despite this, 20 tracks are offered and this means that there are a number of relatively short cues: the decorative “Que d’Amour!”, for example, last only 10 seconds! Although this can break up the listening experience a bit, it does offer the chance to cover a number of other, and more contemporary, styles. “Voix Opéra” features strings and harpsichord which accompany some (over?) enthusiastic female vocals and “Cheap Mambo” is a surprising inclusion due to the score’s emphasis on the baroque. But its inclusion “fits” because of the prominent placement of piano (linking in with the solo piano tracks) and the use of an accordion (for the French setting). “Piano des Cartons Muets”, with its honky-tonk piano riff, is another layer of variation of musical styles for the score. To finish, a couple of classical solo piano pieces by Mozart and Schubert (“Les Cartes (Sonate Pour Piano No. 11 en La Majeur, K. 331: III. Marche Turque. Allegretto)” and “Dorante et Sylvia (Moments Musicaux, Op. 94, D. 780: No. 3 en Fa Mineur. Allegro Moderato)”, respectively), both played by Colette Fleury, fit well with the idea throughout the score of referencing to earlier musical styles. A version of the 1969 Jeanne Moreau song, “L’Enfant Que J’Étais”, sung by Théâtre-Français actress Léonie Simaga, brings the album to a satisfying conclusion.
Philippe Jakko’s score for Que d’Amour! has much to offer. The composer’s choice to use a relatively small ensemble of players and featuring instruments particularly associated with baroque music gives the score as a whole a very distinctive sound. He does an accomplished job at linking this specific sound with the various other – and more modern – musical styles that reflect the contemporary setting of the film. The vibrancy and enthusiasm heard in the music shows that the composer (and the orchestra) clearly enjoyed the opportunity to work in the baroque style. The composer particularly relished the chance of paying homage to Georges Delerue, as Delerue’s music was the subject of Jakko’s Masters in musicology. On the basis of the score for Que d’Amour! and what I’ve heard of the recent release of his sweeping orchestral score for Allies, Philippe Jakko is definitely a name to keep an eye on for the future. Que d’Amour! is available on streaming sites such as Spotify and is available to buy from a number of online digital stores.
- Rue de La Paix (2:02)
- Adagio Mineur (1:07)
- Sylvette (1:15)
- Chaconne (Dans Le Style de Vivaldi) (3:00)
- La Rencontre Dans Le Rue (1:15)
- Adagio Majeur (1:22)
- Les Pensées (1:36)
- Un Ange Passe (2:24)
- La Coiffeuse de Madame (0:49)
- Le Hall de L’Hôtel, Pt. 1 (0:49)
- Arlequin et Le Cléf (0:35)
- Voix Opéra (0:37)
- Le Hall de L’Hôtel, Pt. 2 (1:32)
- Piano des Cartons Muets (0:16)
- Cheap Mambo (1:02)
- Que d’Amour! (0:10)
- Final “Alla Delerue” (3:01)
- Les Cartes (Sonate Pour Piano No. 11 en La Majeur, K. 331: III. Marche Turque. Allegretto) (0:46)
- Dorante et Sylvia (Moments Musicaux, Op. 94, D. 780: No. 3 en Fa Mineur. Allegro Moderato) (1:18)
- L’Enfant Que J’Étais (2:30)
Running Time: 27:31