イントゥ・ザ・ウッズ オリジナル・サウンドトラック Soundtrack
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Stephen Sondheim's 1987 "Into The Woods" is perhaps his most commercial success and seemingly most accessible score. This is explainable due to the brilliance of James Lapine and the fact that all musical songs are written using familiar form: 32 bar songs with applause encouraging buttons. The entire first act, though heavily foreshadowed and brilliant, leads the audience off the path toward each pretty flower. From a theoretical standpoint, Sondheim writes this score so that it mirrors the theme of the show. The second act strays from these precise rules but continues to utilize solidly established character motifs and-in strong Sondheim style-begins to limit when the audience may applaud or audibly react.
The opening number for "Into The Woods" is unparalleled in theatre history. During it's twenty minute span every element, character and conflict is presented. Each character is given a simple motif which is developed and merged as the show progresses and the characters begin to deepen. The theme Sol doe re ti la doe re ti sol begins as Rapunzles vocalize but soon begins to find itself connected to all characters who experience unrequited love. It is the accompaniment for Jack's farewell to milky white. It is the melody the witch sings in "Stay With Me" as the parent who wishes to protect her child. The two princes sing it in both versions of "Agony" first for Cinderella and Rapunzel and later for Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. (The two versions of "Agony" are musically identical-something Sondheim has never done elsewhere-because it suits the two characters. They are the only ones who begin and remain shallow. "I was raised to be charming, not sincere.") even the payment of the five beans to Jack uses Rapunzel's theme. "Giants In The Sky" uses this motif so that by the end of act one, this motif subtly represents the relationship between parent and child, another misunderstood love.
The parents-or would be parents-sing motifs that are stepwise, repetitive and careful. Repeated rhythmic patterns that begin with Jack's Mother, is carried through with Cinderella's Mother, Stepmother and is firmly established by The Baker and His Wife. ("If you know what you want...") until we reach fruition by juxtaposing the two motifs in "No More" where The Baker and The Mysterious Man literally sing as a mirror on the lyric, "Like father like son." For the first time, a parent is thinking in a new way and the intervals are wider; the range is an octave and a half, yet the the very brave decision of "no more" at the end, is a tentative half step, ending over a hollow, basic triad.
"No One Is Alone" is the most misunderstood song in the history of musical theatre. Many mistake it for a comfort lullaby where in fact it is a warning. It warns that it's impossible to protect against everything while the best chance for survival is to work together. ("No one acts alone: careful! No one acts alone." ) The "Children Will Listen" theme is suggested carefully through this-very carefully, since we've heard it twice before in different contexts- and the children's themes ease more toward the adult themes.
"Children Will Listen" comes close to an anthem though due to it's cut and paste it doesn't do so. Still, the lyrics are brilliant and even shadow Hammerstein's "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught". But for the first time in the show, we depart from neatly measured even beats though the Rapunzel theme reappears in the accompaniment played by flute above all else, as a reminder of where we began.
The only guarantee in life is that we will always have to face new challenges and will subsequently have to face it: to return to the woods. And this is what the score does. Sondheim returns to his contrapuntal warning of how to stay on track and then the entire company repeats the "Into The Woods" theme. There's not a wasted second, and with the perception of human nature the very last lyric is the major second which began the show as Cinderella sings, "I wish!"
To analyze this entire score is worthy of a dissertation but it's my hope that this review will cause you to look carefully. As brilliant as Sondheim's other scores are, "Into The Woods" is perhaps his most craftily and through-composed piece. It is in this piece that his writing ethos is most apparent: Less is more; content dictates form; God is in the details.