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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Cydalise et le Chèvre-Pied (1915)
Ballet in Two Acts and Three Tableaux
after a story by Gaston Arman de Caillavet (1869-1915) and Robert de Flers (1872-1927)
Staged at the Paris Opera - 15 Jan 1923
Collège Vocal de Cathédrale de Metz/Christophe Bergossi
Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg/David Shallon
rec Luxembourg Conservatoire, 29 May - 2 June 2000 DDD
first complete recording
TIMPANI 1C1059 [73.39]
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The ballet plot is taken up with the doings of nymphs and satyrs perhaps in a landscape not that different to the groves and forests of Debussy's Prélude a l après-midi d'un faune and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloë.

The music is brightly coloured and bursting with imaginative coups. Cross-references are numerous. They include a Fauré-like Le Leçon de danse (also rather Finzian with its mellifluous clarinet cantilena). The clarinet also plays a coy and innocently winking role in Entrée de Cydalise. In fact, in general, this is a score whose several glories are to be found in the woodwind solos. The brilliance of the strings in the quasi-square dance at Final du Ballet is well worth sampling if you are a doubting Thomas about the qualities of the Luxembourg orchestra. Another very strong presence is Stravinsky's Firebird which is inescapable in Scène in track 8 and Entrée de Styrax (tr 11). The Pas des Apothécaires takes us back to the court of the Sun King. In fact there are several moments when the antique pastiche pitches us towards Rubbra's Farnaby Improvisations and Warlock's Capriol - perhaps more Warlock than Rubbra.

Magniloquent romance floods the textures in Styrax (tr 9) at the culmination of Act 1 - like Rachmaninov with a splash of Franck and Debussy! This same expansive romance inflects the Entrée de Styrax et danse (tr 23). Provençal rusticity colours the Entrée des Danseurs. Some of the more moonlit moments are evocative of Granville Bantock's Pierrot of the Minute.

David Shallon (15 Oct 1950-15 Sept 2000) died suddenly within four months of completing the recording sessions for this disc which stands as a fine constantly renewing memorial to his work there. The orchestra and chorus are excellent though the large body of strings do take on a hint of edginess under climactic pressure.

The biographical background on Pierné is by Bruno Berenguer. The plot-line is given in great detail. All round this is a very polished production as one would expect from this source. The only slight cloud on the horizon with Timpani productions is the inadequacy of proof-reading of the English translations of the notes. However, in the case of this disc, there do not appear to be any problems.

A very fine item and well worth seeking out if you are an enthusiast for French impressionistic music of the early years of the century.

Rob Barnett

See also review by Peter Quantrill



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