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the symphony of the dark rooms

At Radio France, a program conceived by Bertrand Tavernier pays tribute to the music of Auric or Ibert.

By Pierre Gervasoni Posted today at 10h05, updated at 10h05

Time to Reading 11 min.

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Filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier at the Lumière Festival in Lyon in October 2017.
Filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier at the Lumière Festival in Lyon in October 2017. ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP

The National Orchestra of France has already taken place, Saturday, January 12, in the Auditorium of Radio France, in Paris, when a man with the white mane makes his appearance under the cheers. It's not about the conductor but the filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, at the origin of three concerts devoted to the music of film during a weekend.

The program of the day focuses on "Symphonic" explains the historian of the seventh art, composers of classical training "Who have often taken the cinema seriously" without really being paid back. Yet, according to Tavernier, the composers of the soundtrack "Are the first critics of the film", their work reflecting an initial analysis of what the filmmaker has produced. A dozen or so scores, mostly forgotten or even lost, were to be demonstrated under Philippe Béran's committed leadership.

A dozen scores, mostly forgotten or even lost, are presented under the direction of Philippe Béran

The first one, brilliantly written by Georges Auric for The beauty and the Beast (1946), by Jean Cocteau and René Clément, immediately points to the limits of a live performance. This music was not designed to be appreciated outside of its relation with the images and, even less, to be diffused scene by scene. If such had been the intention of the composer, he would have drawn a symphonic suite, as is commonly done for ballet music.

That said, the spotlight wanted by Bertrand Tavernier allows to see how some symphonists were able to shine in the dark rooms, like Auric who, in the credits of The beauty and the Beast, makes the most of an orchestra with sequins (pinches of triangle) and adornments (trumpet chimes). His friend Arthur Honegger is equally adept in the establishment of climates, elegiac for a passage of Misérables (1934), by Raymond Bernard, or burlesque for a sequence of upsurge (1937), by Marcel Pagnol.

Finesse and daring

The first event of the evening is about The Truth About Baby Donge (1952), by Henri Decoin, whose score was reconstructed by Louis Dunoyer de Segonzac from the recording for the film. Presented in the form of a Symphonic Suite (and for good reason, the transcriber having put in perspective various fragments of the original music), the creation of Jean-Jacques Grunenwald (in addition associated with films of Robert Bresson) is revealing of finesse (stamps) and daring ( harmonies). We will not say as much about that composed by Joseph Kosma for The Children of Paradise (1946), of Marcel Carné, full of ideas, certainly, but terribly awkward here in his orchestration. Kosma is not a symphonist and that is understood.

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