Search MusicWeb Here


selling Internationaly

aSymphonies 1 and 5 £9.00 post free

See also Symphonies 2 and 3

Vision of Judgement £9 post free

Newest Releases


Symphonies 1,2,4 £11.75 post free

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Editor-in-Chief: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

 

  • Menuhin lost tapes
  • Overtures SACD
  • Krommer Flute Quartets
  • Schubert Piano Trios 2CD
  • Menuhin lost tapes


flair, insight, controversy


outstanding singing

 


Sheer bliss


best thing I’ve heard this year

this really exciting release

Vinyl edition

Uplifting music

cracking performance from start to finish

Heartfelt

Sheer magic

Why did I wait so long ?

Delightful


Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio



Simply unforgettable


Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

 

 

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Altus
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Prima voce
Red Priest
Redcliffe
Retrospective
Saydisc
Sheva
Toccata Classics
Wyastone


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Editor in Chief
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Ballet Music (from): Bacchus [20:44]; Hérodiade [10:48]; Thaïs [24:24]; Le Cid [21:58]
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra/Patrick Gallois
rec. 9-11 October 2012, L’Auditori, Pau Casals Hall, Barcelona
NAXOS 8.573123 [77:54]

This disc is just a peach. Jules Massenet’s ballet music brings together all the most charming musical trends of the 19th century: the new French ballet tradition, the lightness of Offenbach’s operettas, the lush tunes of Strauss’s Vienna, the big splashy orchestration of late-century “exotic” potboilers. The music keeps getting better and better as the CD goes along.
 
First I listened out of order and decided the opener, Bacchus, was my least favourite. Then I went in order and, mid-Bacchus, wondered what I had been complaining about. Yes, “Chasseresses et Bacchantes” has an early role for a percussion instrument so wimpily played that I’m not sure what it is, but then the most glorious Johann Strauss parody waltz breaks out and all is forgiven. Yes, the final bacchanale isn’t as crazy as Saint-Säens’ or Roussel’s, but what music is?
 
Hérodiade is an opera about Herod, where he’s the central character, in contrast with Richard Strauss’s Salome. The ballet music comes from a banquet where Herod entertains guests with dances by exotic slave girls from various foreign lands. It’s the shortest selection here.
 
Then we have big suites from Thaïs and Le Cid, each over 20 minutes, the highlights of the disc. Those who know Thaïs only for its “Meditation” will be happy to hear that the rest of the opera is also jam-packed with beautiful music. It’s varied, too, from the stern timpani roll of the opening andante to the perky Pierné-like flute and piccolo solos of the sixth movement, to the unexpected two-minute church-like organ solo. Le Cid is a festival of Spanish tropes, tunes and clichés from the very start. The inevitable cor anglais solo, in ‘Madrilène’, is just gorgeous. It’s as tuneful and colourful as the Spanish pastiches of Chabrier and Debussy, which is to say it’s a ton of fun.
 
The Barcelona Symphony plays excellently throughout, that one wimpy percussion issue confined to a single track. They seem to especially enjoy the Le Cid music, but who wouldn’t? Patrick Gallois continues to prove himself an extremely skilled, sensitive conductor of ballet music. You could imagine people dancing to this album. Given how good the music is, it’s extremely rare to have it collected on disc without the full operas alongside. Frémaux and Marriner have recorded Le Cid but for sound, panache and comprehensiveness, it’s hard to beat this. What fun.
 
I downloaded my review copy as MP3s from ClassicsOnline. The album comes with PDF booklet and cover art.
 
Brian Reinhart