Georges Auric's score for Jean Cocteau's 1946 Beauty and the Beast originally appeared on the Marco Polo label in the 1990s, but has since been licensed by Naxos and repackaged and remarketed for the film music audience, and at a much lower price. Auric's music is some of the finest ever written for a film, a highly atmospheric work that was heavily influenced by the impressionists Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, across 24 separate cues, ranging in length from one minute to over four minutes. The episodic content of the music is not a drawback to enjoying this CD, however, as the playing by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under Adriano makes the parts appear almost seamless. The actual film was scored so hurriedly that the music was never fully synchronized with the rest of the film, and was intended to evoke mood over certain scenes rather than attach itself to precise frames of footage; as a result, it holds up remarkably well as a free-standing work with very little tinkering or editing. Indeed, in another reality, a body of music such as this -- as presented here -- could easily have found an independent life in the concert hall, it is so seductive and complex; oddly enough, whereas Cocteau was thrilled with the music that Auric had delivered on incredibly short notice, most Hollywood studios would have rejected Beauty and the Beast as too complex and demanding of the listener. It's all to our benefit that the composer had a free hand and based his work on his very best judgment of what was acceptable and needed -- he didn't compromise and the result is a bold body of serious music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder