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Dance of the Hours
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Overture from Le Nozze di Figaro (1786) [4:26]
Camille SAINT-SANS (1835-1921)
Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila (1877) [7:32]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Pas de deux from The Nutcracker (1891) [5:32]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
The Last Sleep of the Virgin from La Vierge (1880) [4:49]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)
Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda (1876) [9:16]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Ballet Music from Aida (1871) [4:47]
Prelude to Act I from La Traviata (1853) [3:59]
Overture from La Force du Destin (1862) [8:05]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Overture from La Cenerentola (1817) [7:54]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (1890) [3:39]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Overture from Der Schauspieldirektor (1786) [4:31]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Overture from Nas (1749) (arranged by Divall) [3:54]
Orchestra Victoria/Richard Divall
Recorded South Melbourne Town Hall, October 2001
ABC CLASSICS 476 8366 [68:24]


Orchestra Victoria, based in Melbourne, works with The Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and The Production Company, as well as giving orchestral concerts. In many other areas too such as the Symphony Australia Composer Development Program it makes an important contribution to the musical and artistic life of Australia. Its recordings include CDs devoted to the music of Constant Lambert and Michael Easton, as well as the Ludwig Minkus/John Lanchbery ballet music for Don Quixote. Here, under the baton of Richard Divall, one of the most experienced and successful Australian conductors of opera (and a fine scholar), they present a programme of theatrical mainly operatic - music.

According to the notes by Natalie Shea, the programme constitutes a musical romp from morning to night. Well, just about, perhaps, but only if you listen to the pieces in a quite different order from that in which they are actually presented on the CD - and romp is an unfortunate trivialisation. Its best, I think, to forget about the supposed programme, which is rather special pleading, and enjoy the pieces for themselves.

Most of the music is familiar stuff in some cases one might be tempted to say over-familiar. And it can't be really be said that any of these performances do much to defamiliarise any of it, to make one hear it afresh, to surprise one. Not that the performances are bad merely perfectly competent and professional, without ever approaching the revelatory in any way.

Orchestra Victoria and Divall provide assured and enjoyable renderings of one familiar Mozart overture, and of one less familiar. It is good to hear the fine overture to Der Schauspieldirektor getting on to a programme such as this. The closing Rameau is a bit heavy in rhythm and thick in texture and Orchestra Victoria do fuller justice to themselves in the sinuous orientalism of Saint-Sans Bacchanale or the dynamic contrasts of the overture to La Cenerentola.

This is a well-recorded programme, which I have enjoyed. But, it has to be said, the playing is not so special as to make one forget the very many other fine - and sometimes memorable - recordings of all this music which already exist, nor to make one entirely satisfied with hearing so many loosely connected pieces out of their proper contexts.

The CD is perhaps best thought of as a kind of souvenir for those already familiar with the work of Orchestra Victoria in the theatres of Melbourne. Certainly the citizens of Victoria should be pleased to have so accomplished an orchestra based in their state.

Glyn Pursglove





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