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Section Header
Beauty and the Beast
(1991)
1991 Original

2001 Special Edition

Composed and Produced by:
Alan Menken

Lyrics by:
Howard Ashman

Orchestrated by:
Danny Troob
Michael Starobin

Conducted by:
David Friedman

Labels and Dates:
Walt Disney Records (Original)
(December, 1991)

Walt Disney Records (Special Edition)
(December 18th, 2001)

Also See:
The Little Mermaid
Aladdin
Pocahontas
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Audio Clips:
1991 Original:

2. Belle (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

7. Something There (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

12. The Beast Lets Belle Go (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. Transformation (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (266K)
Real Audio (165K)


2001 Special Edition:

8. Human Again (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

15. Transformation (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

16. Be Our Guest - Demo (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

17. Beauty and the Beast - Ashman (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

Availability:
The original album was a regular U.S. release in 1991, but it fell badly out of print in the late 1990's. Duplicate re-pressings solved that problem and it was widely available once again by 2000. The "Special Edition" release of 2001 is not limited in its pressing and was priced at the same rate as the original album.

Awards:
  The song "Beauty and the Beast" and the score both won Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globes. The songs "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" were also nominated for Academy Awards. The song "Be Our Guest" was nominated for a Golden Globe as well. The score was nominated for a BAFTA Award.









Beauty and the Beast
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Buy it... if you want only the best that the animated musical genre has to offer, for Beauty and the Beast is arguably the top such film of all time.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear the complete score on either of the 1991 or 2001 commercial albums, because some of the most engaging material from Alan Menken's score remains unreleased.



Menken
Beauty and the Beast: (Alan Menken) A fair number of critics have speculated that Disney's 1991 Christmas release of Beauty and the Beast is the best animated film of all time. How the film measures up to the studio's classics of the Golden Age remains under debate, though few would argue that it doesn't shine above the rest of Disney's often impressive output during the renaissance of its musicals in the 1990's. The trilogy of The Little Mermaid, this film, and Aladdin are unquestionable in their quality, and while these films may not have blown away box office records, they have remained critical favorites through the years (especially compared to the substandard musical entries to follow). Composer Alan Menken won multiple Academy Awards for all three entries, dominating the Oscars in music awards for several years. But it is Beauty and the Beast that endures as his (and the studio's) crowning achievement. Its high sense of class and style make it one of the easiest of the Disney scores to enjoy repeatedly, and its knack for capturing the enchantment of the film is devoid of the silliness that often plagued other entries of the era. Most importantly, it proved that The Little Mermaid wasn't a fluke and opened the financial doors for a new era of animated films and their music. There are countless highlights to the music for Beauty and the Beast; among them are an outstanding array of songs (weeded out from a larger collection that would eventually form the Broadway production of the concept in 1994), crisp and emotionally powerful performances by the orchestra for most of their non-song contributions, and an intelligent selection of vocal talent (led by the resounding voice of Paige O'Hara in the role of Belle). Even in its darkest moments, the score and songs of Beauty and the Beast retain the convincing atmosphere of magic (mostly owing to tingling percussion and an uncanny resemblance in writing to Rachel Portman's later styles) that was slowly lost in Menken's later scores, conveying its ever-positive tone from start to finish. It also helps that the spoken voices also perform their own singing, something partially lacking in later Menken musicals.

The 1990's and 2000's have seen several musicals receive three Academy Award nominations for a single film's songs, and Beauty and the Beast largely started this trend (AMPAS would eventually create a rule abolishing such domination of the category by one film). In this case, "Belle," "Be Our Guest," and "Beauty and the Beast" were all recognized (the last of which, obviously, winning the award), and Menken earned another, better earned Oscar for "Best Score." The snare-tapping song of introduction, "Belle," is among the most satisfying and clever cast pieces in history, with a secondary phrase at 2:30 (the fountain sequence) that alone might have earned the song's Oscar nomination. The reprise of this song allows O'Hara to perform the primary phrase of the song at a slower tempo and with full orchestral backing, assisting the scene in mirroring the scope of The Sound of Music. The French setting of the story really takes hold in the villain's song, "Gaston," a surprisingly romantic waltz-like piece that relies on its vocal inflection and humorous lyrics to produce its comedy. The reprise of this song is more of a narrative bridge than a strong extension of the song, but it serves its purpose. The next musical number is the ever popular "Be Our Guest," choreographed like a scene right out of a Busby Berkeley film and flourishing due to a spirited lead performance by Jerry Orbach. Comparatively a lightweight, "Something There" is a fluffy song that shares many instrumental devices with "Belle" (as well as a reprise of the secondary phrase from that song) and is equally affable. Images of Frankenstein inspire the scenery of "The Mob Song," a call to arms piece with plenty of raucous high brass accompaniment (it's hard not to think of disastrous American president George W. Bush when Gaston pronounces "You're either with us or against us"). The final song is the popular title ballad, performed surprisingly well by Angela Lansbury and translating into the pop song heard over the end credits. For the 2001 "Special Edition" release of the film, almost all of the cast was reassembled to perform the French-styled "Human Again," a song for the castle servants originally struck from the film but popular on Broadway; it contains the lovely "Romeo and Juliet" scene as an interlude.

On the whole, the songs are all remarkably upbeat, and none of them uses intentionally stupid comedic performances to appeal to children (unlike those that would come later in Menken's career). This seriousness, without compromising the children's aspect of the film, made the album very enjoyable for adults as well. The conservatively-rendered pop song was a glimpse at a forthcoming mega-movie song presence for Celine Dion, whose performance of "Beauty and the Beast" made many fans wish that she had been given it as a solo. The instrumental score is a vast improvement over The Little Mermaid, in the quality of writing along with that of both the performance and recording. Many of the themes of the songs are used throughout the score tracks, but some are singular to just the score. Others were either inspired by songs ultimately cut from the film or adapted into phrases of the Broadway production's numbers. The two major themes restricted to just the score are the "curse theme" and "Beast theme," and both are heard prominently in the famous "Prologue" cue. Easily the best cue in the entire score, the mystique of "Prologue" is aided by David Ogden Stiers, whose serves as narrator as well as with accent in the role of Cogsworth. While the vocal mix is extremely bass heavy and assists the score in its resounding power during the film's opening sequence, a score-only version of this cue has long been desired by fans (the only way to obtain it is through bootlegs, because the "Special Edition" release of 2001 did not offer this instrumental track). The curse theme is prevalent throughout the cue, though the descending beast's theme makes a pronounced appearance at 1:35. Menken appropriately alludes to the title theme at the end of the cue. Also a highlight is "West Wing," which features some of the most dynamic performances of the orchestra in the entire film. It opens with fragments of the "Be Our Guest" theme before turning dark at 1:45 with the Beast theme and following with a brass action motif that smartly works in hints of the title theme. The cue "The Beast Lets Belle Go" also features a brief burst of this action motif, but this portion of the cue is part of 1:30 in length that is cut off the end of the album presentation (a hint of even Gaston's theme is heard upon Belle's saving of her father and return home).

Of the other score cues heard on the album releases for Beauty and the Beast, "To the Fair" is the most flighty, a pleasant extension of the themes from "Belle." The "Battle on the Tower" cue offers several dueling themes, but the mixing of this cue is unfortunately far less dynamic than every other in the score (a curiosity that extends across both commercial albums). Pieces of the themes for Gaston, Belle, and "Be Our Guest" lead to the whimsical finale performance of the Belle theme with a final last burst of the Beast's motif. In "Transformation," the curse theme resolves at 2:35 and the Beast theme follows suit at 3:00, turning from the minor key into the major with predictably heroic results. The curse theme becomes a noble fanfare at 3:45 and, following Disney tradition, Menken once again offers a choral reprise of the title theme to close out the film. An alternate version of the first part of this cue was recorded and included on the 2001 "Special Edition" album under the title "Death of the Beast." A lovely viola rendition of the title theme and major key hints of the Beast's theme are presented in the tone of Rachel Portman's (later) melancholy orchestral techniques. Two significant cues missing from all album releases include "Belle's New Home," an almost two-minute piece with tragic versions of the Belle and curse themes culminating in an important crescendo as the camera pulls back from Belle crying in her new room (and the scene concludes with a shot of the castle during a snowstorm). More disappointing an omission is "Gaston's Plan" (1:45 in length), the scene directly before the "Mob Song" when Belle's father is being taken away to the asylum. This cue is a very robust instrumental reprise of Gaston's theme and offers a frantic interpretation of Belle's theme as well. Other miscellaneous notes about the score include Menken's nebulous employment of a secondary love theme that eventually became an interlude in the song "Home" on Broadway (along with the curse theme); parts of this idea also inform the song "Something There." One of the score's persistent detriments is Menken's liberal use of consecutive cymbal hits to create a sense of wonder, a technique that becomes a tad obnoxious in "West Wing" particularly (especially as the Beast's theme is conveyed).

The original 1991 album fell out of print for a number of years in the mid-1990's, and the lack of a DVD release for the film compounded many fans' frustrations about acquiring the best representation of its music. Even though that original album came back into print later in the decade, the most highly acclaimed animated song and score combination of recent times remained incomplete on CD. Disney wasn't best known for pressing exemplary albums for its films in the 1990's, a habit that the studio and its label have largely shaken in the subsequent generation of musicals. Despite the missing cues mentioned above, there really wasn't an enormous mass of music from Beauty and the Beast absent from the commercial album, though there was just enough of it to cause die-hard fans (and there are a lot of them in this case) to scrounge around on Disney box compilations and the likes for extra material. Many even took solace in the Broadway recording, and an interesting debate about the merits of each Belle (Paige O'Hara or the more adult voice of Susan Egan) ensued. It was common knowledge that a few score cues and at least a few songs were rejected from the final cut of the film, and none of that material was previously available on CD. In January, 2002, near the tenth anniversary of the film, Disney released the film once again in stunning IMAX format and at other enormously sized screens across America, with several minutes of extra footage added. The "Special Edition" album release, to coincide with the theatrical re-release, is an expanded album to accompany the film's re-emergence and the subsequent DVD debut. The December, 2001 album adds a total of 15 minutes of music for fans to enjoy, though only a few of those minutes belong to scenes that even exist in the film. First, the aforementioned song "Human Again" became a staple of the Broadway show and was reconstituted with the film cast for the re-release. The other additional song tracks are demo versions of "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and the Beast," which, unfortunately, aren't all that interesting to listen to (outside of the rather intriguing voice of Howard Ashman, who performs the latter with a slight accent). The album is dedicated to Ashman, of course, who passed away before completing work on Aladdin the next year.

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The additional score cue on the 2001 album, the melancholy beginning of "Transformation," replaces "Death of the Beast," which was rejected from the film even though it appeared on the first album. Other than another minute of extra music added to the "West Wing" score track, there isn't any significant additional material on the Special Edition to get excited about. The lack of the "Belle's New Home" and "Gaston's Plan" cues is unforgivable. Every other track is the same on both albums, although some clangs and mistakes on the mastering of the original album have been corrected or deleted for this one (including the obnoxious sound of a ringing phone at 2:14 into "Gaston" on the original). Acoustically, the songs sound largely the same, but the score tracks are offered with a fuller range (it doesn't play like a fully reworked remastering). The order of the tracks is still curious; they are out of order, and having the demo tracks before the pop song is very awkward. Overall, the "Special Edition" is a tremendously missed opportunity. It is still missing too many score cues from the film, offering only a teasing of extra material (along with some slightly spruced up packaging) that could leave a die-hard Beauty and the Beast fan unsatisfied. For those ultimate fans, the Broadway production features some noteworthy performances of the same songs, with some very strong additional ones as well. In instrumental depth, however, the Broadway version fails considerably compared to the original film recording, from the rumbling of the opening of "Prologue" to the majesty of "Transformation." Otherwise, seek the DVD-based bootlegs with distracting sound effects. If you're just starting a collection of modern musicals, this one's the place to begin. Menken, after the moderately successful Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the terrible flop Hercules, did not return for another Disney musical until 2004's underrated Home on the Range, as Disney opted instead for a wider variety of major composers, including Jerry Goldsmith, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer, and ultimately James Newton Howard to lean on for a heavier (and eventually sole) role for the scores. Beauty and the Beast, however, will always remain as the standard by which all animation scores will be judged for a very long time.   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: *****
    1991 Album: ****
    2001 Album: ***
    Overall: *****

Bias Check:For Alan Menken reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.45 (in 11 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.52 (in 56,586 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 4.23 Stars
Smart Average: 3.97 Stars*
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   Track Order
  Rob -- 5/27/11 (8:53 p.m.)
   Lengthy version of Introductory musi
  yoni ben-ari -- 8/19/09 (9:34 a.m.)
   Re: "Beauty and the Beast" Instru...
  Anonymous -- 2/17/08 (12:44 p.m.)
   a suite?
  Rhiannon Maynes -- 5/17/07 (7:47 a.m.)
   Orchestrations
  N.R.Q. -- 1/27/07 (10:53 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (1991 Original Album): Total Time: 50:12


• 1. Prologue (2:26)
• 2. Belle (song) (5:09)
• 3. Belle (Reprise) (song) (1:05)
• 4. Gaston (song) (3:40)
• 5. Gaston (Reprise) (song) (2:04)
• 6. Be Our Guest (song) (3:44)
• 7. Something There (song) (2:19)
• 8. The Mob Song (song) (3:30)
• 9. Beauty and the Beast (song) (2:46)
• 10. To the Fair (1:58)
• 11. West Wing (3:42)
• 12. The Beast Lets Belle Go (2:22)
• 13. Battle on the Tower (5:29)
• 14. Transformation (5:47)
• 15. Beauty and the Beast - performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson (4:04)

(track lengths not provided on packaging)




 Track Listings (2001 Special Edition Album): Total Time: 64:48


• 1. Prologue (2:29)
• 2. Belle (song) (5:07)
• 3. Belle (Reprise) (song) (1:05)
• 4. Gaston (song) (3:40)
• 5. Gaston (Reprise) (song) (2:04)
• 6. Be Our Guest (song) (3:44)
• 7. Something There (song) (2:19)
• 8. Human Again (song) (4:54)
• 9. The Mob Song (song) (3:30)
• 10. Beauty and the Beast (song) (2:45)
• 11. To the Fair (1:58)
• 12. West Wing (4:25)
• 13. The Beast Lets Belle Go (2:22)
• 14. Battle on the Tower (5:28)
• 15. Transformation (5:49)
• 16. Be Our Guest (demo) (3:29)
• 17. Beauty and the Beast (work tape and demo) (3:58)
• 18. Beauty and the Beast - performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson (4:07)
• 19. Death of the Beast (rejected score track) (1:29)

(track lengths not provided on packaging)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The inserts on all versions of the soundtrack include no extra information about the music or the film. The 2001 "Special Edition" album packaging includes complete lyrics, however.


recording sessions
David Friedman conducts the orchestra at
recording sessions of Beauty and the Beast






   
  All artwork and sound clips from Beauty and the Beast are Copyright © 1997, 2001, Walt Disney Records (Original), Walt Disney Records (Special Edition). The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 9/4/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.