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Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Les Misérables (complete film score, 1934)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Recorded in the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, July 1989
NAXOS 8.557486 [59.00]



 

Les Misérables makes a welcome re-appearance on Naxos and represents a price dropped rebranding having first appeared over a decade ago on Marco Polo. The intervening period has dimmed neither the music’s adventurous sophistication nor conductor’s Adriano’s perspicacious and intelligent editorial work and revision. It still makes for a cornerstone recommendation and film music enthusiasts should lose no time acquainting themselves with this hour-long score. 

Adriano has used combinations of short cues and repetitions and also some instances of varied orchestration. The few deletions are more than compensated by reinstated music not used in the film. One of the most novel features of Honegger’s scoring is the lack of double basses. Each cue is full of powerful character, from the malign menace of trombone, brass and wind in Générique through the passing resembles to Finzi’s later Intimations of Immortality in the second cue Jean Valjean sur la route. One of the most impressive sections is the fifth, Fantine, which is an evocative mini tone poem suffused in its central panel with motion and colour. The intermezzo like Cosette et Marius has hints of Richard Strauss but the following cue has an authentic accordion (replacing the film’s piano and percussion).  

There’s much else besides; a waltz figure, the elysian and avian airiness of the gardens of Le Luxembourg or the Adriano orchestrated cue that follows (reconstructed from the soundtrack) and the old fashioned drama of Musique chez Gillenormand. There is, too, the funereal tread of the Death of Jean Valjean.

The fine notes from Adriano complete an idiomatically played and strongly recorded set – warmly welcomed back to the fold and at budget price as well. 

Jonathan Woolf 

 

 

 



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