The French festival Ciné-Notes celebrated its 4th edition in Bordeaux (France), from Monday, March 7 till Tuesday, March 22, 2022 with an extensive program of concerts and conferences (read more).
Gorka Oteiza attended the festival last week, and gives us a summary of its concerts in this article, exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
At the end of the article you will find an interview with the artistic director of the festival, Benoit Daldin, as well as photos of the rehearsals and concerts.
On Thursday 17 and Friday 18, what can be considered the main concert of the Ciné-Notes 2022 festival, entitled “Monsters and Creatures – Symphonic Concert”, was held at the Auditorium of Bordeaux, performed by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine – ONBA conducted by Diego Navarro.
A concert with a very interesting program, which included works by well-known international composers such as John Williams, Howard Shore, or Jerry Goldsmith, along with other less common works in concert by French composers such as Georges Auric, Philippe Sarde, Pierre Adenot, or Mathieu Alvado, who contributed with great pieces to the theme proposed by the festival.
The second performance was also broadcast live by radio and television to more than 40 centers in the region: cultural halls, nursing homes, hospitals, cinemas, etc …. thus offering the opportunity to enjoy symphonic film music to towns, cities, and collectives that do not usually have access to it.
Also on Thursday morning, we were able to attend the dress rehearsal with a group of 300 children from several schools in the area, in a great initiative of the festival, which allowed these kids to go a little deeper into the film music of the hand of the ONBA and the maestro Diego Navarro, who offered brief explanations of each of the themes, to prepare them for what they were going to hear next. This didactic dress rehearsal had a more “academic” reprise on Friday, where also for a school audience, blocks and sections of specific works of the concert were performed, while detailed musical and narrative explanations were offered. A great initiative, which hopefully will be repeated on many occasions!
Returning to the concert, once we entered the auditorium, we were given a printed program with the pieces of that night, to learn more about what we were going to listen to. The auditorium, with a capacity of approximately 1,440 seats, did not require the use of any type of face-mask during the entire function, following the covid regulations in force at that time in France. A joy and a respite, which reminded us of pre-pandemic times, and which we hope will soon become normal again.
The program of both concerts was as follows:
The evening began punctually with the piece “Jaws – Main Title” by John Williams, which managed to get a slight smile in the audience when the two notes that announce the danger represented by the shark, begin to blunt in the orchestra. A rhythm that was accelerating, under the firm pulse of the conductor Diego Navarro, leading to a precise musical crescendo of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine – ONBA, expanding the sense of danger and dragging us into the theme of the concert “monsters and creatures”. Already from this first moment we could appreciate the great preparation of the orchestra, as well as the precise direction of Diego Navarro, who did not miss addressing any section, giving way to entries and changes in a punctual and direct way, making clear that he had everything under control.
It was time to change location, and travel to space with the fantastic “Star Trek – Main title” composed by the inimitable Jerry Goldsmith, who through a solemn fanfare and powerful brass, was able to make us fly to distant galaxies aboard the Enterprise.
We returned to earth to listen to the music of monsters that dominated the planet millions of years ago, the dinosaurs, through the piece “Jurassic Park – Suite” by John Williams, which starts with a soft melodic motif of horn and harp, to give way to the grandeur of the dinosaurs represented by the sonority of the entire orchestra.
Next, we had two pieces rarely heard in concert but of great musical quality: “Frankenstein – To Think of a story & The Wedding Night” by Patrick Doyle, where we are initially introduced to the monster and the terror he provokes, and then give way to his tender and sweet side with a melodic and romantic theme where a delicious string section stood out. A great block and a stupendous interpretation.
Then it was time for the piece “Dracula – Mina” by the Polish maestro Wojciech Kilar. A piece that speaks of an unconditional love that knows no time or borders, but that, despite having a beautiful melody, leaves a bittersweet aftertaste in its harmonies showing that this love will be an impossible and unattainable love. A melody that jumps from instrument to instrument in the woodwind section, which, by indication of the conductor, stood up to salute after having done a great job.
We arrived at another unusual piece in concert, “The Fly – Suite & extracts” by Howard Shore, which was also complemented with the themes “The Creature” and “End Title” from the same soundtrack. Intense music, cacophonic at times and chaotic at others, that transmitted uneasiness and anguish through its disturbing sonority, where there was room for violins that imitated the flight of a fly, but also for action and conflict through a powerful brass and percussion section that dragged the story.
And just before intermission, we listened to the last piece of the first part, a world premiere by composer Pierre Adenot: the work La Belle et la Bête (Christophe Gans, 2014) specially created for the Ciné-Notes festival. A delightful, highly danceable waltz, where the strings and harp carried all the weight of the rhythm and melody with sweetness and precision, to be later complemented by the orchestra. Great end of the first part when it was approximately 20:45h.
After a 20-minute intermission, the second part of the concert began, again with the music of Beauty and the Beast, but on this occasion, in its version by Georges Auric for the film La Belle et la Bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946). A suite of nearly 10 minutes that included the pieces Générique / Le départ de la Belle / La Farce du Drapier / L’envolée, which began with a very characteristic sound that transported us to a sumptuous French royal palace, to then tell us about the sadness of separation, the farce the joke and the comedy, and to end with a royal march and a satisfactory conclusion. A very interesting block, where as a curiosity it is worth mentioning the sound of two harps coming from two harpists located in the upper left part of the orchestra. It should also be noted that, due to an error, both pieces of Beauty and the Beast were interchanged in the printed program, but this was not a problem since this circumstance was notified at the beginning of the concert.
We continued with the music dedicated to French composers, and in this case with the music of Philippe Sarde for the film Ghost Story, in a suite created expressly by the composer for the first edition of Ciné-Notes in 2018; an edition that was dedicated to his work and his figure (read more).
A gloomy and menacing suite, with room for melodic melancholy, made up of several short pieces. It was perhaps precisely because of this circumstance that the work was somewhat weary in its execution and development, due to the interruptions caused by the pauses and the applause of the audience between pieces, which made slightly lose its continuity.
Then came another of the great moments of the evening, the suite of the musical short film L’attaque du monstre géant suceur de cerveaux de l’espace by composer Mathieu Alvado, present in the hall, which was created especially for Ciné-Notes 2022 and had its world premiere at this concert.
A suite with a very powerful start and a sound reminiscent of the B horror movies of the 50-60s, and which knew how to maintain the tension throughout the work, leaving a brief moment in the central part to take a breath. Fantastic interpretation of the orchestra and great conducting, in an intense, demanding, and very agile work, which received a great applause from the hall. Applause that was reciprocated by the composer going on stage, from where he thanked the musicians, the conductor, and the audience.
SoundTrackFest had the opportunity to briefly interview Mathieu Alvado during rehearsals, where we asked him about his piece. Here are the words of the composer:
“The movie title could be translated more or less like ‘Attack of the brain sucker monster from Outer Space (2010)’. The suite is 7-minute long and I tried to put the most engaging music in it. The movie is about a monster of the classic horror movies of the 50s but told in the way of a French musical. Part of the music of the short film is a musical and the other music is used during the action, so as we don’t have singers here, I selected the action pieces from the horror style. I combined the two main action themes with an in-between comedy style music to finish with the finale of the movie.”
An hour and a half had passed since the beginning of the concert and we were back with the great Jerry Goldsmith who was going to close the concert with two (or rather three) pieces. The first, The Planet of the Apes – The chase, a magnificent work that was a revolution at the time, with a frenetic pace and complexity, derived from the hunt of the apes and the protagonist. A spectacular and precise interpretation, wonderfully guided by a Diego Navarro, who knew how to squeeze the maximum capabilities of the orchestra. Great applause from the audience, well deserved of course!
And so came the last piece of the official program, the fabulous Gremlins – Suite by Jerry Goldsmith. A suite of 7 minutes where if we look closely, we can listen to the whole movie: we start with a gong, harp, and strings with oriental sounds, telling us how the existence of these cute creatures is discovered in a store hidden in a Chinese neighborhood. Then came the melodic and endearing lullaby of Gizmo, followed by moments of uncertainty and danger, continued with the music that represents the dynamic life of a small town at Christmas that doesn’t know what is coming next, and ending with a highly rhythmic, irreverent, and hooligan ending that made the whole room feel like bouncing (in fact, one of the percussionists could not resist the temptation and used several moments of the suite to make a fun choreography. Nice!) A wonderful suite that offered us a great end of the concert, where a standing room, full of energy and adrenaline, asked for more.
As it could not be otherwise, Diego Navarro answered the request and returned to the stage to get back in front of the orchestra and offer an encore that was still by Jerry Goldsmith: the music of Star Trek – Main title, which took us again to the immensity of outer space, and thus to the end of the concert.
A concert that offered us a great selection of pieces dedicated to monsters and creatures, and that, in a very well thought out program, knew how to alternate in a very intelligent way the works of French composers – who took the central part of the concert – with the rest of international maestros.
A sublime performance by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine – ONBA under the diligent, attentive, and very precise direction of Diego Navarro, offered us almost 2 hours of concert (intermission included), where without having the need to include images or video clips, we could visualize sharks, dinosaurs, beasts, gremlins, ancestral monsters, ghosts, and all kinds of strange creatures, always through their fabulous and highly descriptive music.
On Saturday evening the Auditorium de Bordeaux hosted the third consecutive concert of the week within the Ciné-Notes festival, performed on this occasion by the young pianist Thomas Enhco, a specialist in classical music, jazz, and cinema, who for a little more than an hour and a quarter offered us an evening entitled “Improvisations on film music”.
A piano in the center of the stage, elegantly illuminated, was the protagonist of the evening, in which we could listen to a varied program of film music with very dynamic, rhythmic, and interesting improvisations, impregnated with jazz rhythms and variations.
The concert, which opened with the intense main theme of Dracula by Wojciech Kilar, and continued with the haunting love theme of Mina from the same film, we could listen to works by composers such as John Williams or Randy Newman, with tributes to films like Jurassic Park, Monsters Inc, Star Wars, ET, or rarities like the animated film Le Roi et l’Oiseau, with music by Kilar.
I’d like to highlight the final suite of the concert where Enhco first explained the structural and harmonic similarities between the theme of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the theme of Yoda in Star Wars, both by John Williams, to then perform a suite that alternated from one to the other, transitioning between the two in a very agile and almost imperceptible way at times.
A very enjoyable and interesting concert, which featured introductions in French to the thematic blocks by the pianist, and which offered a new space for film music outside the symphonic realm.
The program was as follows (approximate due to the improvisational nature of the concert):
- Wojciech Kilar – Dracula – Main Titles & Mina
- George Bruns – The Aristocats – Everybody wants to be a cat
- John Williams – Jurassic Park
- John Williams – Star Wars – The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
- Randy Newman – Monsters Inc.
- Wojciech Kilar – Le Roi et l’Oiseau
- Danny Elfman – Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – (Oompa Loompa) Augustus Gloop
- John Williams – Star Wars – Yoda’s Theme & E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
At the end of the concert, Tomas Enhco was sitting at a table in the hall of the auditorium, waiting for the public who wanted to buy some of his works (priced at 20 € each) and receive a dedication, or even to chat a moment about his music or the evening.
After almost two years of pandemic, which frustrated the intentions of holding the Ciné-Notes festival in 2020 and 2021, the fourth edition arrived in 2022 with renewed strength and full of enthusiasm, offering a wide and interesting line-up of activities: two symphonic concerts performed by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine (ONBA) conducted by Diego Navarro, two cine-concerts of the film ‘E.T. The Extra-terrestrial’ conducted by Ernst Van Tiel, a jazz/cinema improvisations concert with pianist Thomas Enhco, a Jazz concert with Jean-Michel Bernard & Friends dedicated to the music of Jerry Goldsmith, plus lectures, film screenings with musical presentation and more.
With the festival having just ended this week, the return of Ciné-Notes to the stage can only be described as a great success, both artistically and in terms of audience, and we hope that this definitive normality that we are gradually regaining will lead to an even bigger edition in 2023. Strength, tenacity, ability, and imagination are a characteristic of its organizers, as they have shown us this year.
Article and pictures by Gorka Oteiza
Interview with Benoit Daldin - Artistic Director of Ciné-Notes
Thank you very much Benoit for inviting SoundTrackFest to the festival and welcoming us, and… congratulations for a new edition of Ciné-Notes!
Thank you for coming!
First of all, we would like to ask you to introduce yourself and tell us your role and function in the festival, for those who do not know you yet.
I am the artistic director of the festival and I am also the person who created the festival. I created it when I was here as the artistic administrator of the Auditorium and the Bordeaux Opera in 2016. That year I wanted to make a new cinema-concert and develop film music here in the Bordeaux Opera season. The first idea was to do the film ‘Quest for Fire / La Guerre de Feu’ by Jean Jacques Annaud with music by Philippe Sarde. A very famous film in France and which also has no dialogues, where the music is a special protagonist. I went to see Philippe Sarde in Paris, we talked about the idea, and he was very interested. The project was huge because there is a choir and also the concert scores did not exist. Everything had to be prepared from scratch. In order to do this concert, I had a week booked with the orchestra in 2018, but I noticed that the week before was free and the orchestra was available, and I said to myself, why don’t we do something else that previous week with Philippe Sarde‘s music, from his other films, and do a small event around his figure? And so with that basic idea, with two weeks and the orchestra available, we started to prepare the first edition. In the beginning it was something very small, with some masterclasses and screenings of films for which Philippe Sarde had composed the music, apart from the cinema-concert. At all times the most important thing was the cinema-concert ‘Quest for Fire / La Guerre de Feu’, a Bordeaux Opera production, created from scratch, as it didn’t exist: we had to get the film, its rights, create the scores, a huge job. So between 2016 and 2018, in addition to the usual work for the opera season, my goal was to create the first edition of Ciné-Notes. Also, I wanted to make a first edition with the idea of continuing.
How was that first edition and what was the public’s reception? It was the first time that the Bordeaux Opera had undertaken a similar project, wasn’t it?
The reception was great and it was something very new. We had done movie-concerts before, but they came fully prepared like ‘Psycho’ or ‘The Artist’. Nothing like this. It was the first time we programmed film music by itself. It is true that years before, about 10 years ago, the orchestra had a special concert dedicated to the music of John Williams, but nothing to do with the project we had in hand. With Philippe Sarde, we wanted to develop this musical heritage and create scores that are not heard in concert. John Williams‘ scores are easy to find, most of them are published, and the same with Nino Rota, there are many orchestras that have his scores. Here we had to work directly with the author and many of the scores were 90% new. In addition, with these concerts we also wanted to do something to find new audiences for the orchestra and for symphonic music, since people know the films. With film music you don’t have to give additional explanations, just by putting the titles in the program people already get an idea of the concert. We also wanted to offer the experience of watching the film with a great live orchestra, an experience that cannot be replicated at home. All this worked very well in the first edition. It was a huge success both for the cinema-concert and the Philippe Sarde themed concert, where we didn’t project a single image, just the music. The same thing we do when the orchestra plays classical music, we don’t project any images. Besides, Sarde‘s music is perfect for this because it is very well written, very melodic, easy to listen to and very well harmonized. The other challenge was if the orchestra would like to play that kind of music, being used to other kinds of repertoire, and it also worked very well.
How did the road to the second edition go?
After Ciné-Notes 2018, I was still as artistic administrator of the auditorium and the opera, so I started with the idea of a second edition that would respect the principle of having only one composer as the protagonist, and I decided to focus it on Bernard Herrmann. In this case the construction of the festival was a little easier, because there was already a cinema-concert that I wanted to do, which was “Vertigo”, and then I had to find thematic material for a concert of his work, with titles like Psycho, Citizen Kane, North by Northwest, but I also wanted to include scores that had not been played in France, like Ghost and Mrs Muir, Obsession, Fahrenheit 451, The bride wore black…
Was it complicated to get those scores?
A little bit, because they were not usual in concerts, but not as complicated as those of Sarde in the first edition. In addition, we were shaping the festival with the projection of films and some conferences. This second edition was a great success with the public and another great success also with the orchestra. The opera management was very happy because they saw that a new audience was coming to the hall that did not come during the orchestra’s usual season.
And from there…
We decided to expand the festival and do something not only in the Auditorium but also in the city of Bordeaux. To do some different musical activities that were a little bit different from the symphonic concerts, like for example a jazz concert, because film music is very varied. Film music is a very broad label and can have many genres within it. In our case, the core is still the orchestra, because it is the origin of the whole festival, but we wanted to add more options around it.
I wanted to do an edition dedicated to Jerry Goldsmith, but you have to be realistic and outside of the fan world, he is not such a well-known composer to the general public to fill concert halls.
I also wanted to do Planet of the Apes in concert, which had been performed only once in London years ago with the BBC orchestra if I’m not mistaken, but asking around proved impossible due to administrative and rights issues.
So, developing all these ideas for the third edition, I decided to change the format a bit and not to focus it only on one composer but on a general theme that allowed to play and discover works of many composers. That’s how it came about that the third edition would be dedicated to monsters and creatures, a very broad umbrella under which to include more things. In addition, Jerry Goldsmith had done music for many films with this theme, such as Gremlins, Planet of the Apes, Alien… And around this I proposed to build a festival with ET in cinema-concert, with a symphonic concert with Diego Navarro and with young French composers like Pierre Adenot or Mathieu Alvado who had works on this theme, and to commission them to prepare pieces especially for the festival.
Ultimately, film music brought to concert, and composed/arranged expressly for this medium, could be considered an equal to contemporary film music. It is a completely natural step or transition.
In keeping with the idea of having a strong Jerry Goldsmith base for the third edition, we also commissioned arrangements of his works from Jean-Michel Bernard.
But in 2020 the world stopped… and so did Ciné-Notes, which had to wait 2 years to come back…
The truth is that it was a big blow because the festival was scheduled for March 2020, and little by little we saw how the pandemic grew, the events were postponed/cancelled, and in the end covid left us no choice but to postpone the festival. In 2021 we suffered the same problem again, and now finally in 2022 we have been able to carry it out. The program is 90% the same as we had planned for 2020, but incorporating some new features and slight changes.
For this edition we have collaborated closely with Diego Navarro, as his festival is one of the most important in the world of film music. He is a wonderful conductor and composer, who knows this language very well. The construction of the symphonic concert program has been a joint effort.
We have also done something very innovative, which is a live broadcast of the symphony concert to more than 40 places, some of them more than 600 kilometers away. Places far away from Bordeaux and from film music, such as schools, libraries, multi-cinemas, hospitals, nursery homes, which do not have the opportunity to enjoy these symphonic concerts. It has been a huge success and we are very happy.
In this edition, in addition to the improvisation concert of film music by Thomas Enhco and the Jerry Goldsmith jazz concert by Jean-Michel Bernard, we have also developed a new idea that consists in the projection of films with a live music introduction in front of the movie screen. There have been three films, Gremlins (Jerry Goldsmith), Jaws (John Williams), and Harry Potter (John Williams), and the arrangements have also been by Jean-Michel Bernard. As you can see we have been incorporating new ideas little by little.
And speaking of ideas… Ciné-Notes 2022 ends in a few days, and surely you already have new ideas for next year, right?
We are already working on the 2023 edition and I can’t tell you more about it yet, but it will focus on what we had planned for 2021, with some changes, of course. As always, it is going to pivot on two main bases: on the one hand to develop the heritage of film music, not only the film music that everyone plays but to go a little further and give space to composers who are creating today, and on the other hand to develop film music beyond the symphonic genre, which is the basis of the festival, but exploring other areas to attract people who do not usually come to symphonic concerts, but who come delighted and enjoy the festival.
Well, I think those are two great bases. Thank you very much Benoit for your time and I hope to see you again at Ciné-Notes 2023.
Thank you very much for your support and for your work of diffusion. We are glad to have you here and hope you will come back next year.
Interview by Gorka Oteiza
PICTURES - Didactic rehearsals - 2022-03-17
PICTURES - Symphonic concerts - 2022-03-17 y 18
PICTURES - Concert by Thomas Enhco - 2022-03-19