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Suite algerienne, Op. 60, 'La Princess Jaune' - Op.30
Maria Costanza Nocentini Carlo Allemano,
Cantemus Swiss Italian Orchestra Francis Travis
Chandos CHAN 9837 64m.
Crotchet  Amazon UK   Amazon USA

Francis Travis' recording of the popular Algerian Suite is welcome for its wholesome rhythmic drive and characteristic pictorials demonstrating the French African dream. The Reverie du soir is delightfully seductive and sensuous with an intoxicating viola depicting a typically hot humid night. There is also much energy in the 'Marche Militaire Francaise' which concludes the suite in a typically rousing and exciting finish.

In a way, this recording is almost exactly similar to ASV's early 90's recording with Yondani Butt and the RPO but that is coupled with a rather drily recorded second symphony. And that is where Chandos score on the coupling. The real novelty on this disc is obviously the short one-acter, 'La Princess Jaune' which is delightfully constructed and is obviously worlds away from the other epic opera, 'Sanson et Dalila'. The overture is one of the composer's neglected gems, it is breezy and delightfully ebullient in the best French manner..

The solo parts of Lena and Kornelis are excellently sung by Maria Costanza Nocentini and Carlo Allemano with the Swiss choir, Cantemus also excellently portrayed in this live recording. Chandos provide a full libretto and very intriguing notes whilst the recordings are spectacularly open, although the Algerian Suite could have done with a little more intimacy. I have no knowledge of another 'Princess jaune' in the catalogues so collectors should snap up this issue which is indeed luxury programming.

Gerald Fenech



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