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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Auric’s style was always distinctive and unfailingly inventive. Many consider his score to Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête (1945) his finest achievement; indeed its 60 minutes are full of colour and clever invention, with the large orchestra (with chorus) used with great imagination throughout.

Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, June 2005

"A member of Les Six, Auric inevitably collaborated with Jean Cocteau, the group’s godfather and mentor. He participated in collective works such as Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel. He also wrote a number of songs on poems by Cocteau. There are several scores for Cocteau-directed films (Le Sang d’un poète – 1930, L’Aigle à deux têtes – 1947, Les Parents terribles – 1948, Orphée – 1949 and, of course, the celebrated La Belle et la Bête). One of his major ballet scores, Phèdre (1950) is to a libretto by Cocteau; now available again in CD format in Les rarissimes de Georges Tzipine – EMI 7243 5 85204 2 2. Auric is now best remembered as a prolific composer of film scores, probably more so than as a composer of concert music. He obviously had a real flair for incidental music, and was able to find the right tone whatever the subject, be it light-hearted comedy such as The Titfield Thunderbolt, wartime drama (Heaven Knows, Mr Allison), psychological thriller (The Innocents) or fairy tale (La Belle et la Bête). His collaboration with Cocteau proved most fruitful and successful, because composer and director were, so to say, on the same wave-length. This is evident in his substantial score for La Belle et la Bête that beautifully evokes the fairy-tale nature of the film as well as its darker aspects. The score displays what some may describe as eclecticism, in that it alternates Neo-classical or folk-like episodes and harmonically more astringent ones, the latter sometimes verging on atonality. The whole, however, never sounds eclectic. The music fits the film’s episodes in a quite remarkable way. As this recording, now re-issued at Naxos bargain price, makes clear, La Belle et la Bête is a substantial score, although the whole of it was not used in the original soundtrack. Adriano’s well-informed notes go into some considerable detail about this point; but it is a fate often encountered in the film industry, and a rather frustrating one. Luckily enough, carefully prepared recordings such as the one under review help put things into the right perspective. Moreover they allow us to hear the music in a much better way than from the ageing soundtrack which often obscures the real quality of the original scoring. This is particularly welcome in this case, for Auric’s subtle and refined scoring may at last be fully appreciated. La Belle et la Bête is scored for large orchestral forces and includes episodes with wordless chorus (hints of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé here), though the composer rarely use them as such. He allows some more lightly-scored episodes, particularly when accompanying the chorus. Some other episodes, however, use the whole orchestral range with telling and effective results. Of course, the score mainly consists of fairly short cues (there are some exceptions though). However the whole amounts to a most satisfying musical experience.

Adriano’s excellent and well-informed notes are an asset, as far as the production of this recording goes, although – surprisingly enough – they contain one mistake: Adriano fails to mention Honegger as a member of Les Six! This is the more surprising given that Adriano recorded a good deal of Honegger’s film scores, of which that for Les Misérables is also now available as a Naxos Film Music Classics (8.557486). This should not deter anyone from enjoying his reading of the scores by Auric and Honegger.

This most desirable release is recommended not only to film buffs (who bought it when it was first released), but also to anyone with some interest in 20th Century French music. Auric was a fine composer, whose music is too little-known and still awaits deserved re-assessment. Not to be missed, especially at Naxos’s customer-friendly bargain price."

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition

These Naxos film score CDs are something like the famous Charles Gerhardt series for RCA in the 1970s - researching/restoring the original scores for the film music and performing and newly recording them with a larger symphony orchestra than most of the soundtracks could obtain. Some Eastern European orchestras have become specialists in this work, and are heard on all three of these discs. Adriano is a Swiss conductor who also prepares the full score and parts for the recording sessions.

Auric was one of Les Six in Paris and wrote primarily for the screen and theater. He scored not just French films but also many British and American films, and he collaborated with Jean Cocteau on his nine films. Beauty and the Beast was shot in l946 under very difficult postwar conditions, on a tiny budget, with Cocteau himself often ill. The acting of both Jean Marais and Josette Day was superb, the sets and camerawork were at genius-level and Auric created a lushly-scored accompaniment to the fairytale film. Unfortunately, the soundtrack quality of the film suffers greatly even in the carefully-restored Criterion Collection version (which is not currently available). So it is a delight to hear a high-quality recording of the complete score (made in l994), played by a full symphony orchestra as skilled in this type of fare as the Moscow musicians. There are 24 very short cues. One of my favorites is “Les couloirs mysterieux” - for the scene when Beauty walks down the corridor of the Beast’s castle and human arms holding candelabras.

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