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Belle du Seigneur (Gabriel Yared)

April 8, 2015

Cover_BelleDuSeigneurBELLE DU SEIGNEUR

Gabriel Yared, 2015, Caldera Records
17 tracks, 60:16

A long time in the making, “Belle du Seigneur” was released in 2012. Yared’s darkly romantic score has now finally been released by Caldera Records.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Glenio Bonder back in 2011, “Belle du Seigneur” is based on the book by Albert Cohen. Set in 1930s Switzerland it tells of the troubled love affair between Solal and Ariadne. This secret relationship, as well as the political dealings prior to WWII, make for a tense story. The making of the film is itself as dramatic as the story it depicts. The album’s liner notes detail this journey. Unfortunately, Bonder passed away before the release of the film.

The original score is by Gabriel Yared, who won an Oscar for his 1996 score for “The English Patient”, and was also nominated for “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Cold Mountain”. He also penned a famously rejected score for “Troy”, though is mostly known for his intimate and lyrical style.

What does it sound like?

The score revolves around a waltz that is both lush and delicate. Yared himself calls it bittersweet. It is introduced on violin during the opening cue “Générique Début”; and as you might expect from Yared it is unashamedly lyrical and is beautifully orchestrated for a relatively small ensemble of strings and winds. Yared creates an ever-so-slightly different sound throughout the score by adding saxophone, which tends to double either the melody or the chords. As such it is ever-present, though very subtle.

The score sounds European and classical, due to its orchestrations, but also due to its fragile composition. The springy piano in “Solal and Isolde” sounds like it could’ve come from a classical piano concerto. “Danse” offers a number of variations on the main theme during its 6-minute run, though some rumblings in the lower registers make it clear that not all is well.

“Maison Stresa” may be a short cue, but the string writing (and particularly the crescendo half-way through the track) is wonderful. “Isolde” deviates a little from the norm as bells and tremolo strings dominate this pretty yet uneasy sounding cue; but this unease doesn’t last long as “Le Bal” runs through another set of variations on the main theme (this time without any sinister undertones), making it one of the album’s highlights.

The score continues to cycle through its themes (there are some subtle secondary themes), with each cue being a thing of beauty. From the playful piano in “Arrivée Mariette” to the aching strings in “Ariane Sur L’Ile” to the darker tones of “Mystères “.

Making this film has been a long and arduous process, as detailed in the album’s booklet, which also talks about the music with quotes from the composer. True to Caldera’s tradition, the album also includes a 15-minute interview with Yared in which he discusses his working process and film music in general (he has some very strong views that clearly go against the interviewer, making for a slightly tense interview).

Is it any good?

Gabriel Yared’s “Belle du Seigneur” is a lyrical and romantic score for strings, winds, saxophone and piano — in a way that is both typical for the composer, yet sounds nothing like his more famous scores. It’s a delicate, intimate score for a relatively small ensemble, with an attractive main theme that returns in virtually every cue. Herein lies both its weakness and strength. The score feels mono-thematic and, despite numerous variations, many cues feel like a reprise of an earlier one. If you can’t connect with the main theme, there will be little else to connect with. That said, the composition is free-flowing, like a concert work, with each cue being perfectly formed and perfectly beautiful. When Yared explains in the interview that he’ll look at the film once and then writes his score away from it, not bound by the film’s technicalities and instead focusing on the story’s emotional content (and I have paraphrased that a little), it all makes perfect sense.

Rating [3,5/5]

Tracklisting

01. Générique Début (2:19)
02. Solal Déguisé (2:19)
03. Solal & Isolde (1:42)
04. Danse (6:15)
05. Maison Stresa (1:15)
06. Isolde (1:38)
07. Le Bal (5:01)
08. Retrouvailles Solal & Ariane (1:12)
09. Arrivée Mariette (0:57)
10. Ariane Sur L’Ile (3:45)
11. Cheval Plage (1:42)
12. La Valse (3:22)
13. Ariane (4:06)
14. Ile (1:39)
15. Mystères (3:19)
16. Générique Fin (3:44)
17. Interview with Gabriel Yared (14:24)

Availability

Visit the Caledera website for more information.

 

 

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