Martin Kahane's notes
pay Auric the tribute of giving us no
biographical background on Auric except
his involvement in these two ballet
scores. It is as if we already know
that he was born in Lodève, Hérault
in France. A pupil of D'Indy he was
at first strongly influenced by Satie.
As his individuality grew so he became
recognised alongside Durey and Honegger
as part of Les Six. We know Auric now
because of his film music of which there
are collections on both Chandos and
Marco Polo. In fact in addition there
are fourteen ballets written between
1923 and 1952 as well as some chamber
music, songs, piano solos and a clutch
of orchestral works.
Across the fifteen
movements of the music for the Phèdre
ballet Auric proves himself an adherent
of a stern and gaunt tonality at times
like Barber's Medea ballet music.
There is much that is thunderously emphatic
with the message hammered home with
tragic intensity as for example in the
Danse Funèbre which is
more march than dance. The boiling euphoric
tension of this music passingly recalls
that of Igor Markevitch although Auric
always manages to find a more yielding
humane accent. His music is also softened
by his evident admiration for Ravel's
methods. There is also a Bliss-like
abandon about some of the more lively
writing as in Danse de joie.
The tragic element gripes and shudders
especially in the Despair and Fury
of Theseus and the Death of Phèdre
but even in that last scene Auric
writes much that is tender, gentle and
imbued with consolation.
Le Peintre et son
Modèle is another ballet
written one year before Phèdre.
This is much shorter and has only seven
scenes. Understandably the score is
in much the same language as Phèdre
except that the jagged tragic element
is not as evident. Other moods are in
play here including the waltz, an absurdist
agenda (like something from Prokofiev’s
Love of Three Oranges) and a
glittering and starry enchantment in
the last movement; contentedly magical
here with Auric presented in a new light.
Lovely music bound to please those already
enthralled by Markevitch, Stravinsky