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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    


Richard Bonynge, conductor. The Undiscovered Recordings
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Cigale – Ballet in 2 Acts
Enid Hartle (mezzo soprano)
London Voices and National Philharmonic Orchestra
Daniel François Esprit AUBER (1782-1871)

Cello Concerto No 1 orch. Douglas Gamley
David POPPER (1843-1913)

Cello Concerto in E minor Op 24
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra
Jascha Silberstein (cello)
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)

Sinfonia Concertante in C T289/4 C43 for flute, oboe, violin, cello and orchestra ed. Bonynge
Richard Adeney (flute), Peter Graeme (oboe), Emanuel Hurwitz (violin) and Keith Harvey (cello) with the English Chamber Orchestra
Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825)

Sinfonia in D (Veneziana) ed. Bonynge
Concerto in C for flute, oboe and orchestra ed Bonynge
Richard Adeney (flute), James Brown (oboe)
English Chamber Orchestra
Michael BALFE (1808-1870)

Sventurata Ildegona from Ildegona nel Carcere
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Nour-Eddin, Roi de Lahore from Djamileh
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

Al mio core from L’assedio di Calais orch Douglas Gamley
Daniel François Esprit AUBER (1782-1871)

Ah pour un jeune Coeur from Le cheval de bronze
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

C’est sa tête que je réclame from Hérodiade
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Ah! Sgombro è il loco alfin from Oberto
Nicola VACCAI (1790-1848)

E questo il loco from Giulietta e Romeo
Aimé MAILLART (1817-1871)

Il m’aime, il m’aime from Les Dragons de Villars
Huguette Tourangeau (mezzo soprano)
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Jean Paul MARTINI (1741-1816)

Plaisir d’amor arr Douglas Gamley
Giuseppe SARTI (1729-1802)

Lungi dal caro bene from Giulio Sabino
Giovanni Battista BONONCINI (1670-1747)

Deh più a me non v’ascondete arr Douglas Gamley
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

Verdi prati, selve amene from Alcina
Frondi tenere…ombra mai fù
Alesandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725)

Le Violette arr Douglas Gamley
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)

Divinités du Styx from Alceste
O del mio dolce ardour from Paride ed Elena
Giovanni PAISELLO (1740-1816)

Nel cor più non mi sento from La Molinara
Chi vuol la zingarella from I zingari in fiera
Giovanni PERGOLESI (1710-1736)

Stizzoso, mio Stizzoso fro La Serva Padrona
Vincenzo CIAMPI (1710-1762)

Tre giorni son che Nina from Gli tre cicisbei ridicoli
Antonio VIVALDI (attributed) (1678-1741)

Piango, gemo, sospiro arr Douglas Gamley
Renata Tebaldi (soprano)
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Le sais tu?
On dit! *
Passionnément
L’âme des fleurs
Pensée d’automne
Souvenance
Le petit Jésus
Les yeux clos *
Ce que dissent les cloches
La mélodie des baisers
Pitchounette
Nuit d’Espagne
L’Éventail
Je t’aime *
Les amoureuse sont des folles
Printemps dernier
Rose d’Octobre
Sérénade d’automne
Souhait
Elle s’en est allée
Huguette Tourangeau (mezzo soprano)
Reginald Kilbey (cello) *
Richard Bonynge (piano)
Recorded 1967-78
ABC CLASSICS 475 070 2 [4 CDs 304.49]

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Undiscovered is a nice way of putting it. Rediscovered might be better inasmuch as the contents of these CDs were originally Decca LPs recorded between 1967 and 1978. Some collectors may still have them on their shelves, in the main vibrant and alive performances of some intriguingly seldom visited repertoire, galvanised by Bonynge’s characteristically colourful accompaniments. The repertoire embraces much Massenet – and rare Massenet at that – some cello concertos more admired in the pedagogic breach than in the actual hearing, a raft of J C Bach and Salieri, recitals of Arie Antiche by Tebaldi and of nineteenth century operatic arias sung by mezzo Huguette Tourangeau. Miscellaneous the collection may inevitably be but it does course with energy and refinement; Massenet’s ballet music for Cigale is a winningly spry affair, light and melodious, rather the kind of thing in which Beecham might have taken an interest. The Romantic Cello Concertos album was played by Jascha Silberstein; the first, the Auber, comes without an orchestral part so one was arranged for this recording by Douglas Gamley. The work is open hearted and lyrical but a lot of the soloistic material lies quite high and very occasionally the cellist’s intonation buckles. The finale’s high jinx are the most pleasing feature of the work - with Silberstein phrasing delightfully. The Popper, as perhaps might be anticipated, of a virtuoso performer-composer has two things going on simultaneously; rhapsodic cantilena and show off technique and in Popper’s case the latter is too dominant. He exploits registral change in too cavalier a fashion and despite some noble sounding writing – the soloist is fine here – most particularly in the elegant Andante the work is too lop sided and showy. The Massenet Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra is well-crafted, lyrical and gets more gypsy swaying as it progresses; it has an evocative little cadenza embedded in it as well.

Bonynge teamed up frequently with the English Chamber Orchestra and the fruits of their collaboration can be admired in the Bach (Johann Christian) and Salieri album. Salieri’s Sinfonia is vigorous and shapely and though there are some excisions in his Concerto it’s still winningly played by the still admired wind principals. It’s J C Bach however who shines more brightly in this company; his Sinfonia Concertante offers plenty of opportunities for expressive nuance and in that respect no one is better than oboist Peter Graeme in the Larghetto. But for me the winner here is the Symphony in E flat because this is a clever, inventive, imaginative work complete with a Mannheim crescendo in the opening movement and pizzicato-energised second. Melodic and effective Bonynge has a lot of fun with its contours and it was a pleasure to listen to the ECO’s committed musicianship.

The Forgotten Operas set is sung by a musician Bonynge admires and rightly so – the French-Canadian Huguette Tourangeau. She has a magnificent compass – from a high D and spanning pretty well three octaves here, down to an F in the bass stave (in the Balfe). In that aria she is stentorian and commanding but she is equally effective at delicacy and tracery – as in the lyric Bizet – though there are times when one might think her too florid, as in the Auber where there’s an uncomfortable spread. She displays power but also eloquence in the Massenet if her Verdi (from Oberto) is too squally. I particularly admired her Vaccai, which is full of tenderness and feeling.

Then there is Tebaldi in what the notes call her Swansong. Her last stage appearance was in 1973 but she did continue to record, with Bonynge, and the sides here were taped in 1975, her last LP, and are complete here. The orchestrations are by Gamley once more and he proves a resourceful, colourful, quite anachronistic but engaging orchestrator. Tebaldi herself is no longer in her freshest voice, of course, but there are always compensations listening to an artist of her majestic level of communicative involvement. She still has a fine range (sinking deep in Piango, gemo, sospiro), a spun legato, effortless sounding pianissimi, expressive rubati and gorgeously romanticised rallentandos (listen to Le violette). Gamley ensures plenty of colour accompanies her – played by the New Philharmonia - warm ripe strings, dancing winds, fruity and luscious in the warm sun. Not for purists certainly.

To end this engaging disc there is more Tourangeau, here accompanied by Bonynge the pianist. Aptly we began with Massenet and we end with him and twenty of his little known songs. Conductor and soloist made a celebrated recording of Thérèse for Decca and they prove equally adept here. There is a real sense of style and lyrical ease, allied to which her mezzo has a most impressive range with a downward compass of often thrilling evenness. She employs the quick Gallic portamento in Passionnément and she reveals her voice’s full, even compass in all registers in a song such as Le petit Jésus. Simple and unaffected romanticism arrives in Ce que dissent les cloches. A most welcome return to the catalogue for this set; not all the songs are on an especially elevated level but whilst Tourangeau sings them she makes us believe they are.

This is one of ABC’s most attractive boxes; splendid notes and excellent photographs of the pensive, brooding Bonynge, all shirtsleeves and frizzy hair. For old timers there are colour photographs of the LPs concerned. Not everything is must-have but it’s good to be able to welcome so much imaginative and affectionate music making back to the catalogue.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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