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|Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
Gaîté Parisienne (1938) (arr. Manuel Rosenthal) [41:13]
Les belles américaines (1875?) (transc. Mark McGurty)
Galop from Geneviève de Brabant (1859) [2:28]
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Divertissement for Small Orchestra (1930) [15:08]*
Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel
rec. 4 November 1991, 16 December 1990*, Music Hall, Cincinnati,
TELARC CD80294 [65:53]
frothy Parisian frivolity is meat and drink to Erich Kunzel and
the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
story of the origin of Gaîté parisienne, this most
popular of Offenbach scores, is well known. Half a century after
Offenbach’s death, the impresario Sol Hurok had the idea of turning
his most popular melodies into a ballet. The first composer commissioned
for the job made no headway with the project and passed it on
to French composer and conductor Manuel Rosenthal. No mere tune-raider,
Rosenthal took fistfuls of Offenbach’s dance numbers and songs
and turned them into a colourful ballet score, touching up the
orchestration and composing idiomatic bridging passages as he
went. All the favourites are there, from Orpheus’s Cancan to
Hoffman’s Barcarolle. Massine, who choreographed the original
production of the ballet, initially rejected Rosenthal’s score.
Fortunately for music-lovers, Stravinsky persuaded him to stage
it. While the ballet has all but disappeared, the score lives
on. Kunzel here leads the Cincinnati Pops in a colourful performance,
helped by the bright Telarc sound. Together they spin out Offenbach's
polkas, mazurkas and waltzes with high energy and a sense of fun – just
listen to the raucous raspberries from the trumpets!
two shorter Offenbach items are performed in the same spirit.
The waltzing Les belles américaines was initially composed
for piano but has been scored idiomatically, this time by Mark
McGurty. The Cincinnati Pops are elegant here and in their hands
the following Galop, also known as the Gendarmes’ Duet,
is appropriately cheeky.
out the disc is the Divertissement by another Parisian
composer, Jacques Ibert. Ibert composed the piece as incidental
music to a farce and, although the orchestral palette is immediately
different and the idiom busily neo-classical, his music has as
much of a sense of fun as Offenbach’s. A lot of it is actually
very funny, as Ibert toys mercilessly with Mendelssohn’s Wedding
March, mocks waltzes as a genre and taunts the orchestra by
writing mistakes and prominent whistle solos into the “quasi cadenza” finale.
Kunzel and his orchestra do not sparkle quite as brightly in this
score as they do in the Offenbach, and the recording balances
the brass a little too far forward, but overall the performance
is very enjoyable.
is a welcome mid-price reissue of delightful music, stylishly
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