Home > Reviews > GUY DE MAUPASSANT – Georges Delerue

GUY DE MAUPASSANT – Georges Delerue


Original Review by Craig Lysy

This film presents a fictionalized biography of Guy de Maupassant, a popular 19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. Director Michael Drach explores his dying days, as he suffers and finally succumbs to the unforgiving ravages of syphilis. We observe a series of flashbacks that bring his life into full view – a vision that is viewed through the lens of his unremitting passion for sexual encounters. Amidst this flowing montage of vignettes are highlights that feature important literary figures in his life; his mother, his lesbian friend Gisele d’Estoc, and various other players. Regretfully we must bear witness to his descent into madness as all the stories of his life swirl together as the unstayable scythe of death approaches.

Guy de Maupassant represented one of the final French films Delerue would score before heading west to Hollywood to find his fortune. The score was written with a sensibility of a period piece, acutely attuned to the title character’s 19th century Parisian time. Regretfully the dismal reception of the film resulted in entombing Delerue’s fine effort. But all that is now in the past, so let us begin an exploration of a wonderful period piece score! “Établissement Thermal” opens the score with a wondrous flowing waltz that transports us to another time and place. After the gentile introduction a solo violin carries us like a leaf atop a flowing stream. It is a sumptuous opening that sets the mood for the score. “Générique” continues the waltz like sensibility as tutti strings emote a wondrous flowing melody that makes one leave your chair, grab a loved one and start dancing. We hear a beautiful reprise of this theme in “Valse du final” that achieves the same lyrical beauty.

In “Petite Musique” we experience a most remarkable transformation as the cue opens with the child-like innocence of a tender lullaby yet descends into a truly dark realm lead by tremolo strings and quivering woodwinds that reveal the recesses of Guy’s tortured mind. “Thème de Fanny” is a score highlight as we are treated to classic Delerue lyricism. The idyllic cue is born with incredible grace and beauty by solo flute that plays effortlessly over strings with harp accents. As a remarkable gift, the theme is reprised for a full statement with contrapuntal oboe, which elevates the cue to the realm of the sublime. This second rendering of the theme is for me the score’s highlight and one of those immortal film score cues collectors cherish.

As the cue title states we are treated in “Polka” to a classic rendering of the time-honored dance. We dance to and fro as Delerue repeatedly shifts the theme’s melodic line from flute, to violin to trumpet; simply wonderful! “Valse Grenouillère” continues the dance that is this score with its classic waltz rhythm. As we feel ourselves gliding across the dance floor, lost in another time, Delerue shift the cue’s melodic line between flute, violin and oboe. We continue thematically with yet another waltz in “Valse Dame en Gris” which provides a more emotional rendering of the classic dance. We hear a passion in this piece expressed as only Delerue could. The piece just sweeps you off your feet until a plaintive oboe breaks the mood and provides a subtle denouement.

“Piano Thème Polka” is a humorous cue that one would expect from the Folies Bergère! It plays in a light-hearted fashion completely uncaring and unaffected by its surroundings. With “Arrivée de Gisèle dans l’Orgie” the mood darkens as a repetitive motif of strings usher in the classical “Quatuor de la Comtesse” which resurrects the dance-like ambience of the score. Borne by solo violin we are again transported by the lyrical classical piece to the gentile and sophisticated Paris of the past. “Polka du final” is played presto with a vibrant animating energy that is quite amazing. One immediately begins to struggle to remain in your seat as the pace and energy of the piece inexorably compels one to rise and join in the regale! From here we segue into yet another wonderful waltz emoted in a manner that only Delerue could with “Valse du Final”. It is a sumptuous and glorious expression of this classic dance that is truly timeless. The score concludes as harp glissandi introduce the polka like “Thème de Gisèle” which plays in a precise and determined percussive cadence that underpins a marvelous synergy of woodwinds and horns.

The remaining pieces of the album feature pieces for flute and guitar by Georges Delerue, and performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux. “Ballade Romantique” is a wondrous lyrical piece written in classical romantic style that is perfectly emoted by flute and classical guitar. We then are treated to the renown, “Thème de Sybille” from the film Thibaud the Crusader. The piece is written with a medieval sensibility that is infused with exotic accents. The cue is emoted by solo flute that dances over pizzicato guitar. Born from the simplicity of this duet is a sublime synergy that brings a quiver and a tear.

With “Brouillard” we are treated to a new rendering of the Main Theme from the film Jules and Jim. I must say that again that the amazing tête-à-tête of flute and guitar is quite moving. We then move on to the exotic “Alexandrine” cue from the film Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine. In this version Isabelle Héroux’s guitar replaces the harp and quite frankly achieves a most satisfying rendering of the exotic theme. Once again I am just amazed at the wondrous interplay of Héroux’s guitar and Healey’s flute, which I must say is a truly divine marriage. “Luigi” from the film Chère Louise emotes the desperation and longing of new love. The arrangement features two flutes and guitar with the second flute playing a third below the primary flute line. This energetic arrangement is simply genius and as I struggle to find breath, I give thanks for the newfound expression of the piece.

I must give thanks, hand over heart, to Clément Fontaine and Cinemusique for reissuing this classic Delerue score. Additionally, I salute the inclusion of truly original and sublime rearrangements of classic Delerue themes by renowned virtuosi Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux who achieve a truly divine synergy. The album perfectly displays the melodic genius of Delerue, emoted in a series of lyrical dances that just sweeps you away. Folks, this score and supplemental tracks are a glorious resurrection that is essential to all of us committed to the preservation and collection of film scores.

Rating: ****

Buy the Guy de Maupassant soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Établissement Thermal (2:05)
  • Générique (1:43)
  • Petite Musique (1:10)
  • Thème de Fanny (1:43)
  • Polka (3:03)
  • Valse Grenouillère (3:40)
  • Valse Dame en Gris (2:30)
  • Piano Thème Polka (3:25)
  • Arrivée de Gisèle dans l’Orgie (1:27)
  • Quatuor de la Comtesse (4:41)
  • Polka Grenouillère (0:52)
  • Polka du Final (2:07)
  • Valse du Final (2:02)
  • Thème de Gisèle Final (2:16)
  • Ballade Romantique (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (1:48)
  • “Thème de Sybille” from Thibaud the Crusader (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (2:06)
  • “Brouillard” from Jules et Jim (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (2:48)
  • “Alexandrine” from Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (2:10)
  • “Luigi” from Chère Louise (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (2:49)
  • “Thème de Fanny” from Guy de Maupassant (performed by Patrick Healey and Isabelle Héroux) (3:22)

Running Time: 47 minutes 47 seconds

Disques CinéMusique DCM-127 (1982/2011)

Music composed, conducted and orchestrated by Georges Delerue. Album produced by Clément Fontaine.

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