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QUAI D’ORSAY – Philippe Sarde

November 8, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

quaidorsayOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Quai d’Orsay is a French satirical comedy from director Bertrand Tavernier, based on a comic book by Abel Lanzac and starring Thierry Lhermitte as Alexandre de Vorms, a fictional French foreign minister who is a thinly-veiled charicature of the real-life politician Dominique de Villepin. It portrays de Vorms as a pretentious, shallow buffoon, whose political career is continually saved via the intervention of his aide and lead speech-writer Arthur (Raphaël Personnaz), who continually steps in to stop his boss from making a fool of himself at official functions. Quai d’Orsay represents the ninth collaboration between director Tavernier and composer Philippe Sarde. The ironic and rhythmic score was recorded in Paris, orchestrated and conducted by Dominic Spagnolo, and features a number of local musicians including Ridardo Del Fra (bass), Jean Pierlot (percussion), Fréderic Couderd (saxophone) and Raphaël Didjaman (didgeridoo).

The opening “Arrivée au Quai d’Orsay” is a wonderfully comic scherzo, full of self-important movement and blustering energy, and highlighting a pompous trumpet line. Waltz-time rhythms and dance-like beats feature strongly throughout the score, in cues like “Le Bureau d’Arthur”, the flamboyant “La Routine”, and the contemporary jazz-inflected “Résolution d’Un Conflit” and “Sandwich Réflexion”, whose fluid piano lines and sultry saxophone solos are clearly intended to reflect the machinations of the French political system. Oddly haunting didgeridoo blasts also crop up from time to time, notably during “La Course du Ministre“ and the spiky, engaging “Arrivée à New York” possibly as a marker for the survival of the fittest tribalism that one has to endure to be a successful bureaucrat.

More urgent, dramatic music creeps in during “Oubanga”, which uses low hooting clarinets and tick-tock percussion to add a layer of mystery and danger. The conclusive “Discours à l’ONU” is the longest piece of score on the album at a shade under 5 minutes, and is a perfect suite of all the score has to offer, bringing together the interesting rhythms, the unusual orchestration touches, and the jazz inflections, with a lovely performance of the waltz-like main theme. I wish Philippe Sarde received more international exposure as he does, because he has a lovely elegant touch, uses consistency interesting instrumental choices, and has an ear for the underlying deeper meanings in film, especially when satire is involved.

Buy the Quai d’Orsay soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Arrivée au Quai d’Orsay (2:15)
  • Le Bureau d’Arthur (1:39)
  • La Routine (1:17)
  • Maupas (0:48)
  • Résolution d’Un Conflit (1:06)
  • Sandwich Réflexion (0:42)
  • Stabylo (1:23)
  • La Course du Ministre (1:10)
  • Arrivée à New   York (1:00)
  • Oubanga (2:06)
  • Manuel de Résolution des Crises (1:51)
  • Réveil d’Urgence (2:10)
  • Discours à l’ONU (4:43)
  • Les Nuits d’Une Demoiselle (performed by Thierry Fremont) (0:45)
  • Les Nuits d’Une Demoiselle (performed by Colette Renard) (2:27)
  • Step on the Gas! (performed by April March and Bertrand Burgalat) (3:55)
  • Girl in Your Raindrop (performed by Jöel Daydé and Bertrand Burgalat) (3:40)
  • Arrow in the Wall (performed by Jöel Daydé and Bertrand Burgalat) (3:13)

Running Time: 36 minutes 11 seconds

Quartet Records (2013)

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