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CD: MDT

Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
Gwendoline Overture [9:10]
España [5:52]
L’Étoile - Je suit Lazuli [2:52]
Moi, je n’ai pas ne áme ingrate [1:42]
Suite Pastorale [18:40]
L’Île heureuse [2:56]
Ballade des grands dindons [3:03]
Dix Pièces Pittoresques - Mélancholie [2:25]
Tourbillon [1:26]
Mauresque [2:35]
Ode à la Musique [8:33]
Bourrée Fantasque [5:42]
Joyeuse Marche [3:55]
Le Roi malgrée Lui - Fête Polonaise [7:12]
Full list of performers at end of review: no texts or translations included
MAGDALEN METCD 8015 [76:58]

Experience Classicsonline



Any enthusiast will have friends with large collections of recorded music who will insist on playing an ever lengthening selection of their favourites from amongst the rarities they have acquired. Those Magdalen discs I have come across all remind me strongly of these sessions. All kinds of rarities, often strange and occasionally wonderful, are unearthed, cleaned up, and paraded for the listener’s delight. The results can be quirky, fascinating but almost always intriguing. All in all the very reverse of the kind which you sometimes feel was selected by a committee and whose contents are excessively predictable.
 
The present disc is a prime example of Magdalen’s approach. By no means all of the performances would go to the top of any list of the best recordings of the works in question, but all have some degree of interest to commend them, and several are of considerable merit. I should perhaps indicate before going any further that this is not a disc for those for whom recording quality is a prime consideration, most being no better than can be expected of recordings over half a century old and several, in particular the piano solos and the Suite Pastorale, not very good even for that time despite apparently sympathetic restoration by Paul Arden-Taylor. The performances however are another matter. To start with the best first, the two songs with Pierre Bernac and Francis Poulenc are sheer perfection in terms of style. Nothing is overstated but every inflection makes its point even if the lack of texts and translations is particularly frustrating here. Also near perfection are the two brief extracts from the enchanting opera L’Étoile. These are already available along with other highlights from that work on Regis coupled with the whole of Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène (Regis RRC 2062A) - another essential purchase for any enthusiast for this composer. Again the link between words and music is perfectly realised without excess point-making.
 
The Ode à la Musique is a surprising stranger in both recorded or live form. It is a piece of great beauty and memorable quality whose brevity and the need for a soprano soloist as well as a choir are probably the practical reasons for its rarity. The performance here is not just idiomatic in its phrasing, articulation and general approach but in the actual sounds. Like the Suite Pastorale it was made at a time when each country or region’s orchestras had their own characteristic sound. Nowadays they tend towards an international norm which the better orchestras are capable of varying according to the music they are playing. This is in some respects a gain but as can be heard now the loss of individual character does deprive us of such positive and pungent performances as are found here.
 
Although perhaps less strikingly individual Marcelle Meyer’s performances of four piano works are worth hearing. The remaining orchestral works are perhaps the least valuable part of the disc. Beecham’s performance of the Overture to Gwendoline is well known although even he cannot make much of a dull piece. The other pieces are given generally adequate performances but no more than that. Barbirolli’s Joyeuse Marche was a particular disappointment in lacking the cracking rhythmic energy it needs.
 
Overall nonetheless this is a fascinating collection which will have you going back to other recordings of these works to compare and contrast their approaches to the music of this most fascinating and surprising composer. The appeal of the disc is added to by a helpful essay by James Murray, but, as I have mentioned earlier, is reduced by the lack of the essential texts and translations.
 
John Sheppard 




 
Full details of performers and recordings 
Gwendoline Overture [9:10]
Orchestre National de la Rédiffusion Française; Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor); recorded in the Salle Wagram, Paris, on 9 November 1957
 
España [5:52]
Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie Orchestra; Wilhem Schüchter (conductor): recorded in Bielfeld on 25 November 1954 

L’Étoile - Je suit Lazuli
[2:52] Moi, je n’ai pas une áme ingrate [1:42]
Fanély Revoil, Lucie Thelin (sopranos); Orchestre de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris: Roger Désormière (conductor): recorded at the Studio Albert, Paris in February and June 1943
 
Suite Pastorale [18:40]
L’Orchestre de la Societé des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris; Edouard Lindenberg (conductor): recorded at the Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, on 8 June 1953
 
L’Île heureuse [2:56] Ballade des grands dindons [3:03]

Pierre Bernac (baritone); Francis Poulenc (piano); recorded at the Studio Albert, Paris on 2 November and 7 July 1936
 
Bourrée Fantasque [5:42] Dix Pièces Pittoresques - Mélancholie [2:25] Tourbillon [1:26] Mauresque [2:35]

Marcelle Meyer (piano): recorded at the Salle Advar, Paris, from 28 April to 2 May 1955
 
Ode à la Musique [8:33]
Janine Micheau (soprano): Elisabeth Brasseur Chorale; L’Orchestre de la Societé des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris: Jean Fournet (conductor): recorded at the Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, on 16 June 1952
 
Joyeuse Marche [3:55]
Hallé Orchestra: Sir John Barbirolli (conductor): recorded at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 11 August 1957 

Le Roi malgrée Lui - Fête Polonaise [7:12]
Sinfonia of London; Robert Irving (conductor): recording first issued in 1959.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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