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Auric: Phèdre, Le Peintre Et Son Modèle / Tamayo, Et Al

Release Date: 11/29/2005 
Label:  Timpani   Catalog #: 1090   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Georges Auric
Conductor:  Arturo Tamayo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

AURIC Le peintre et son modèle . Phèdre ? Arturo Tamayo, cond; Luxembourg PO ? TIMPANI 1090 (54:48)

The two ballets on this album ushered in a so-called ?third period? in the compositions of Georges Auric (1899?1983). It regained the uncompromising character of his early 1930s works after the stylistic break with Les Six , all of a violently expressive character that walked the Read more borderlines of traditional tonality. But whereas an abstract composition such as his Piano Sonata in F gained few friends for Auric, the same style, applied to traditional ballet plots (one of them on a popular French cultural theme), drew an admiring audience.

The earlier and more modest of the pair of ballets on this album, Le peintre et son modèle (?The Painter and his Model?), was first staged in 1949, but it was Phèdre of 1950 that really garnered the attention of the public and press. With décor and a scenario by Jean Cocteau and highly stylized choreography by Serge Lifar, the entire production must have been impressive: a completely white set and an iconoclastic dancing style that included a wide-open second position in two of the pas de deux. (It actually caused a scandal, but Lifar refused to change his choreography after a request from the management.) Auric?s contribution was not overlooked, and it reestablished his viability as a important creative talent among classical musicians for the first time in nearly two decades.

Le peintre et son modèle is not without humor and a delicate touch; the much longer Phèdre is sheer edge and crushing mass. Its ?Danse des vains ornements? has a turbulent sternness only increased by the brief contrast of its wispy, lamenting close. The entrance of the sailors announcing the death of Theseus is a harshly oppressive funeral march, much of a kind with that Walton used to conclude his score for the filmed version of Hamlet . The slow, dissonant, and barely tonal arrival of Hippolytus well portrays the character?s dazed return after receiving the curse of his father, and the subsequent malicious turbulence of the waves in ?Danse des vagues de la mer? depicts the curse in action. There are a few moments of lightness in all that is dark, notably most of the melancholy but gentle ?Danse des aveux? that betokens Hippolytus?s reflection on his love of Aricie. But the scenario and music remain true to Racine?s original play, where the five main characters of Phaedra, Oenone, Aricie, Hippolytus, and Theseus circle one another in an ever tightening knot of deceit, cross purpose, and death.

The score powerfully reflects this, and Arturo Tamayo drives his Luxembourg musicians in a performance that emphasizes accenting and precision. The same values also come in handy in the lighter, shorter Le peintre et son modèle ; and while the solo work is extensive and good throughout, it is primarily for its ensemble work that the Luxembourg Philharmonic deserves praise on this recording. They?ve truly come a long way since their LP days, when they were considered a competent second-rate ensemble. The sound is good, though a bit too dry in softer passages. Timpani provides interesting liner notes discussing the genesis of each ballet in detail, as well as a complete breakdown of their respective plots.

This is vital and persuasive music by a composer who too often is remembered, when he?s remembered at all, as the man who wrote the waltz song from the original (and still best) Moulin Rouge . There?s far more to Auric than that.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Phèdre by Georges Auric
Conductor:  Arturo Tamayo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; France 
Le peintre et son modèle by Georges Auric
Conductor:  Arturo Tamayo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; France 

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