Paysages - Guidarini
Talent Records DOM 2929 106
Classical - Orchestral
Massenet: Scènes Alsaciennes, Charpentier: Impressions d’Italie, Saint-Saëns: Suite Algérienne
Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice
Marco Guidarini (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - December 11, 2007
Anyone seeking a demonstration quality recording of some colourful 19th century orchestral music, beautifully performed and excitingly conducted, needs to look no further than this splendid SACD.
The Paysages in question are those of Alsace, Italy and North Africa as conjured up in musical terms by Massenet, Charpentier and Saint-Saëns respectively.
Though Massenet is best known for his many operas, he also wrote some equally fine orchestral music and ‘Scènes Alsaciennes’, written in 1882 is the last of his seven orchestral suites and is cast is in four movements. It begins with a depiction of a quiet Sunday morning and ends with a joyous Sunday evening, at the end of which the military are heard beating the retreat on trumpets and drums; an effect that opens wide the fine acoustic of the Diacosmie Hall, Nice. In between these two movements there is, a bucolic ‘Au cabaret’ that starts with a vivid timpani solo and later features some resplendent horn calls, both of which illustrate the exuberant quality of the orchestral playing and the wide dynamic range of the recorded sound on offer. The most ravishingly beautiful movement is ‘Sous les tilleuls’, a depiction of two lovers under the shade of the lime trees, in which the exchanges between a solo cello and clarinet are played with exquisite sensitivity.
Gustave Charpentier was a pupil of Massenet, but unlike his teacher was not a prolific composer. He is probably only remembered today for the aria ‘Depuis le jour’ from his opera ‘Louise’ that has been recorded by countless sopranos from Nellie Melba to Renée Fleming. The composer recorded ‘Impressions d’Italie’, the longest suite on this disc, some seventy years ago but it has appeared only rarely since, so it is marvellous to have it again now in such excellent sound. The opening ‘Sérénade’ immediately captures one’s attention with its striking use of massed celli, but the whole suite is full of ear catching melodies and imaginative touches of orchestration that these musicians relish to the full.
The ‘Marche militaire française’, given here in a particularly sprightly performance by Marco Guidarini, is perhaps the most often played item from Saint-Saëns’ ‘Suite Algérienne’, so it is good to be reminded how beautifully crafted and deftly scored the other three movements are. Saint-Saëns described this suite in the score as "Picturesque Impressions of a Voyage to Algeria." and, after an opening Prélude depicting the arrival at the port of Algiers by sea, we have an exotic sounding ‘Rhapsodie Mauresque’ then a lilting nocturne ‘Reverie de soir’ with its tender viola solo.
Judging by all these performances, Marco Guidarini has built the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice into a superb body of musicians since his appointment in 2001 and their quality could not be better showcased than here. Talent’s 5.0 recording, with excellent surround mastering by Polyhymnia, is fairly close and immediate but has plenty of space round the instruments and a fine bloom to the sound.
On every count this is a most enjoyable SACD and I cannot recommend it too highly.
Copyright © 2007 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net